Start and finish the day happy – an interview with illustrator Vic Lee

Continuing my quest to find the perfect recipe for creativity, this month I’ve interviewed Peckham-based illustrator Vic Lee. He came to be an illustrator after a long journey through various jobs that had some or nothing to do with holding a pen. Now he spends most of his time making stunning visual reinterpretations of the streets of London, through a very individual style.

Vic Lee's Bellenden Road

What I got from this interview is the reassurance that although it can take a long time to get where you want to be, you do get there in the end. Vic’s outlook on life and creativity is something that should be sold in bottles, and kept in stock at all good art suppliers!

So here’s the interview: direct, straight and honest answers that gave me a push in being more bold and brave. Enjoy.

Q: Hi Vic, what inspires you to start a new project?

A: This could come from anything, when I am out and about, I may wake up with an idea. Sometimes I would just be doodling and this could end up being a limited edition print. Normally coffee has something to do with it!

Q: Have you ever been stuck for ideas?

A: Have to say no not really. I like to push myself in many directions and I have been lucky working with different people in different formats, I am currently working with an amazing jewellery designer, Andrew English  on a stunning engagement ring with my work being hand cut from white gold. That’s exciting stuff.

Q: Is there someone in particular who inspires you?

A: I try not to follow anybody, I can find it influences, and I really want my own style to come out. I rarely go to exhibitions or art shows, I do go to shows with different mediums, ceramics, fabric etc I like to see how things work and are made, it makes me understand processes and whether my work can work with different materials. I was recently up in the Yorkshire Dales and had a go at old school weaving. Loved it!

Q: What makes you laugh?

A: Everything! I see humour in most things, I have a dark and dry humour, I try and be light hearted in life, it makes my work more fluid and free…I think.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to a young artist who hasn’t yet developed his/her style?

A: Be yourself, don’t copy, ever! Do what you want to do and don’t worry about making money. That’s a true artist, to actually start and finish the day happy. Perseverance is good. And don’t rush! It took me 25 years of many jobs to finally do something I love!

Q: How did you develop your style?

A: Spontaneously. My street scenes have been a phenomenal success worldwide and this kicked off many different styles to what I do now.

Q: Do you have a preferred material that you like to work with?

A: Pen

Q: How much do you take into account other people’s opinion of your work?

A: I get huge satisfaction getting emails and meeting people and getting positive feedback. I used to do a lot of shows and fairs and have started again recently, meeting people that have bought my work or just talking about it, where they live and sharing their own stories, it’s great. I get a kick out of complete strangers sharing bits of their life with me. I am eternally grateful as I wouldn’t be doing what I do without strangers!

Q: Do you give yourself rules when you work?

A: Nope, never, no rules or regulations, I work quite freely

Q: How do you keep your creativity alive? How do you feed it?

A: It’s who I am, I have been illustrating, painting and drawing since I was around 7 years old, I find creativity just sitting still, my mind wanders a lot.

Q: is there any project that you’re working on that you’d like to share with the readers of the blog?

A: I have just finished two big commissions this month, so they will be going live soon. My favourite piece has to be the E17 Wood Street commission. A huge 18 metre piece of stories, patterns, illustrations and wry humour over in Walthamstow. Go see and read, just don’t believe all you read….

You can follow Vic on:

t: @vicleeprints




2 thoughts on “Start and finish the day happy – an interview with illustrator Vic Lee

    1. You’re more than welcome! I am finding it really useful for my own illustration work, it made me discover my own approach to the creative process as I had to think how I would answer those same questions.

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