Architecture Illustrated

20 September 2018

Illustration of Accordia by artist Joe Waldron


For this year's London Design Festival we invited six illustrators from Jelly London to study, visit and interpret six of our projects for our latest exhibition. Georgie Brown, Exhibitions Producer asked them about their process.

The six world-renowned artists featured were invited to study, visit and interpret six of our favourite projects, and take these into another realm of imagination. This has enlightened us to not only the different creative processes the artists undertake but the interpretations our buildings have in the public and cultural sphere.

To gain further insight into their journey, we have asked the artists to express in their own words their thoughts on illustrating architecture. I spoke to the artists to discover more about their creative process and signature styles.

Joe Waldron Joe Waldron is well known for his bright, colourful style & striking angular characters. Finding creative influence from his own life experiences, Joe loves to play with shapes and compositions and to unfold the art of storytelling visually. He went to Accordia in Cambridge for the collaboration.

“My style is bright, vibrant & angular with an emphasis on capturing the mood of my subject, whether it’s a person or a building. I especially enjoy working on architectural structures and communal spaces, I love being able to bring these places to life with colour and style. I also have a love for angular buildings with lots of character.

I was really happy to be paired with Accordia, it has some fantastic buildings and architecture. I was excited to get the chance to experiment with the beautiful buildings and innovative spaces within the project.

I tried a few different things out in terms of style, perspective and colour, as there are so many fantastic viewpoints from within to view this housing project. Once I found my chosen one, I began sketching each part up on paper, then pieced together the building digitally adding colours and texture.

I really wanted to capture the communal space/gardens and the energy these spaces bring to its residents. By using bright colours and angular shapes I wanted the piece to represent the positive energy and community that the spaces represent. By using the silhouettes of leaves and bushes to frame the illustration I also wanted to highlight the inclusive and beautiful high-quality private space that its residents enjoy every day. "

Biff Biff's creations are fresh, current, comedic and instilled with immeasurable character. His sketchbook pages filled with doodles are a diary reflecting on his experiences, impulsive thoughts and original ideas. He was paired with the Plymouth School of Creative Arts.

“My sketchbooks are my babies. The pages within them are a collection of illustrations picked out from movies, songs, conversations, pop culture, inanimate objects, sayings and more. I’ve always been a very observant person and my interests shift all the time. It’s this spontaneity that carries on over to my work, making it loose, playful, honest and full of wonk.

Most of my creative process is comprised of thinking of what I'm actually going to make. Everything I do is pretty much a glorified doodle, so I doodled ideas and thoughts in my sketchbook (which I always carry with me) and they have to get out, even if they're terrible. No planning, just make.

After being shown the Plymouth School of Creative Arts building I was immediately filled with a sense of positivity and excitement. It’s such an interesting shape and is so brightly coloured and full of life.

The shape and colours of the building are where I began to create my piece. I wanted to portray the purpose of the building and what goes on inside of it rather than drawing its structure. I came across a poem written about the building by Susan Stratton and decided to use that as the content. The combination of poetry and lettering isn't one usually found within architecture, so I ran with it.”

Alva Skog Alva Skog is an illustrator and graphic designer from Stockholm, Sweden whose work aims to communicate, express and question ideas and ideals such as gender inequality and hidden racism. Bright, vivacious colours, oversized hands, shrunken heads and strong, powerful female or genderless characters characterize her images and her landscapes and buildings play with perspectives to create movement and vibrancy. Alva visited the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for the exhibition.

“My main inspiration for this piece was the fact that the Conservatoire was a school. Being a recent art college graduate myself, I can very much appreciate the creative, busy and exciting atmosphere inside, the students bursting with motivation and learning. I wanted to capture this and to focus as much on the students as the building itself and to show how the school can be an amazingly busy and bursting focal point of creativity!

From my initial impressions of the Conservatoire, I found it beautiful. From one angle, it resembles a ship. I fell in love with the building’s outside and insides. It is easy to imagine all the exciting activity going on inside it.

I wanted to show all the five major performance venues of the building. Inspired by and based on the walls of the concert hall I divided the illustration into panels. Like panels of a comic, this allowed me to show venues and events that are happening inside the building.”

Tishk Barzanji Tishk Barzanji’s work is inspired by Ancient history, the Modernism movement and his experiences since moving to London in 1997. Tishk's passion for architecture and art began back in 1998 whilst living in Dalston - the people he grew up with and the environment he was around, shaped his ideas to what he practices now. Tishk visited the Manchester School of Art.

“My work is Modernism, with a hint of Surrealism and I’ve really developed an interest in spatial design and how people interact with the space around them and you can see this in most of my work. I want to create a world where there are no boundaries for space and colour, everything colliding with free will.

I am largely influenced by the De Stijl movement, particularly Mondrian, and the colours of Ken Price. Brutalism also played a big part in my earlier works, having grown up around Brutalist architecture in London. Utopia is a key word for me.

Before embarking on this project, I researched the history of the building and the purpose and legacy it serves, helping me highlight the most important areas of the building in the piece of work that was to be created.

My initial impression of the Manchester School of Art was that it has been built to create a space where people work closely together, drawing you in and with a very natural and organic feel to it. I am particularly drawn in by the stairs.

It was the idea of collective work between the students that inspired me to create something that would embody the connection that exists between all the departments. I’ve tried to capture this spirit and used the colours and the materials that make up its foundation."

Alice Tye   Alice combines her talent for painting with a commercial technique; photomontage for composition, then painting and layering so components can be moved and edited digitally. Her work for Architecture Illustrated looks at the University of Roehampton’s new library building.

“My work is always very honest in the way that I portray the subject of the painting. I paint in a realistic style and always work in oils. My painting style tends to emphasise shadows as well as increasing the saturation of my subject.

I started by reading about Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios' approach to their design and particularly the aspects of the building and its function which they felt were the most important. I then gathered photographs of the interior and exterior of the library. The next step was to narrow down the photographs and start playing with crops to find a composition that I felt highlighted the details that I wanted to focus on.

I was very interested in the way that the building sat within the landscape of the park, the way the trees are reflected in the windows which almost allows the library to blend into the landscape. The other element of the design that I was interested in visually was the interior panelling which was very prominent in all the photographs I saw of the interior. I was very drawn to this graphic element, like a repeating pattern throughout.

The main inspiration for the painting was the park that surrounds the library. The patterns of shadows and dappled light that filtered through the trees were really key to the final composition and texture of the painting. I didn't consciously paint the piece in a specific style but all of my paintings are influenced by both Edward Hopper and David Hockney, I often find the heavy shadows that frequently appear in Hopper's work is something that I gravitate towards in my own work."

James Dawe James Dawe stands out as an illustrator for his work with photo-collages and digital manipulation. His work is ever unexpected, often abstract and also dramatic. He was paired with Alexandra Palace, where we are currently undergoing a renovation of the East Wing.

“I was chuffed to be paired with Ally Pally as I grew up in North London and have personal experiences of the Palace - so many concerts… and the fireworks!

I create digital collages, I combine a mix of media and methods in my image making/manipulation; CGI, glitch techniques and hands-on application. Initial impressions of the building were partly based through direct experience and my knowledge of the Palace's grandeur as a London landmark. To start the process, I did a lot of what I call ‘idea exploration’ - documenting various key rooms and walkways with photography, looking at textures, colours, the preserved layers of history and current building materials in use. The Victorian Theatre and its inner workings were a main focus.

It was fascinating to discover a lot more about the use of the building and especially our focus, the East Wing. The way that the archways and lofty high ceilings have been returned to their original state suggests a new found care and appreciation for a building part forgotten.

FCBStudios’ approach to the project feels like an archaeological one. The patina effect of preserving history through the remains of architectural and artistic detail inspired me to capture the layers of time evident on the walls of the building, mapping a narrative from the past to the present. I enjoyed being able to show the renovation in progress, laid bare, with wires, support structures, diagrams and building materials obscuring and creating viewports into the spaces.”

Architecture Illustrated is part of the London Design Festival 2018 and will run weekdays at FCBStudios London from 10 September - 26 October. Open Monday - Friday 9.00-17.30.

The artists are represented by Jelly London.


Top: Accordia, Joe Waldron

  1. Plymouth School of Creative Arts, Biff
  2. Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Alva Skog
  3. Manchester School of Art, Tishk Barzanji
  4. University of Roehampton Library, Alice Tye
  5. Alexandra Palace, James Dawe
  6. Architecture Illustrated, Exhibition at FCBStudios London. Photos (c) Richard Battye for FCBStudios