These illustrations of Brixton give you a new perspective on the south London neighbourhood
I believe that you have to act on inspiration the moment it strikes, otherwise it will fade.
The beloved Ritzy cinema, advertising relics of a bygone era, and grade II listed buildings—Brixton is scattered with landmarks that its locals cherish. But which, compared to the tourist hotspots of central London, are often overlooked.
In December 2019, one such local, designer and illustrator Henry O’Boyle, started a collection of drawings to help other Brixtonians celebrate their favourite places in the area.
“I didn’t want to do the typical London landmarks that have been done thousands of times before, and thought that it would be interesting to pay tribute to the beautiful architecture in Brixton.”
Each of Henry’s intricate Brixton drawings is its own detailed and satisfying demonstration of a deep understanding of perspective, teasing out the essence of its landmark’s character while putting it under a new light.
Henry has lived in Brixton since July 2019, when he began work as a designer for West & Reid.
“I recently invested in a new camera. Before lockdown, I would make trips into the centre of Brixton and photograph the cityscapes and streets. I’m looking forward to getting back out there once the lockdown is off.”
Henry grew up in an artistic household, his mother being a painter and his father running a bronze foundry. He took to art from a young age, experimenting with various mediums, such as spray paints, sculpture, installation, drawing, animation and graphic design.
In 2014, Henry left his hometown Winchester to study Industrial Design BA at Coventry University. His studies included a nine-month placement at Italian design consultancy Emo Design.
Now, Henry dedicates his time to creating new art and developing his personal brand.
All my time after work is either spent drawing, exploring new ideas or working on my personal brand identity like my website and Instagram. But on weekends, I’ll give myself a break to speak to friends and family.
Creative Londoners: What do you like most about Brixton?
Henry O’Boyle: I find Brixton to be an incredibly diverse and interesting area. I love to visit Brixton village. I’m a massive fan of looking around independent shops and finding interesting products and unique items.
I draw a lot of inspiration from places like that and I’m lucky enough to have a girlfriend that also enjoys spending hours looking around kitchenware shops. There are so many brilliant independent restaurants that I’ve still yet to try. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get to visit them soon.
CL: What do you like most about creating architectural illustrations?
HOB: I think the reason I enjoy drawing architecture is that I love to get into the details of the buildings. I like to sketch other subjects as well but I have carried on with this niche since it has been so well received. I’ve learned a lot about perspective and vanishing points, and I’ve definitely improved since I began in December.
I have also found that people are buying the prints for sentimental reasons, either because it’s somewhere where they met their husband or wife or because—in particular for the Lambeth Town Hall illustration— it’s where they registered for their marriage certificate.
I have done some commissions of peoples houses as well, which are normally gifts to friends moving out or a couple’s first house they got together. I always love it when the drawing is personal and it means a great deal to me to be able to create that for someone.
CL: Do you have a favourite London drawing?
HOB: My favourite drawing so far would have to be the one I just finished, Brockwell Hall. That said, I do particularly like the Ritzy cinema illustration. I think the low and dramatic angle and intricate details make for an interesting composition.
The process of drawing for me often goes from inspiration of the idea to a good working pace at the beginning which then slows as I lose a bit of interest and fight to finish the piece at the end.
I don’t know if other artists also share this process, but there’s always a great feeling when finishing a project you’ve spent 10 – 20 hours working on. I’m never fully happy with the result as I’ll always see some small mistakes. But the goal is just to reach the picture in your head as close as possible, and take what you’ve learnt to the next project.
CL: What’s it like being an artist and designer in London generally? And what’s it been like during the Covid-19 crisis?
HOB: I’ve found that being in London provides a great source of inspiration for designing and creating, as there is always something to visit or get involved in and you’re never far from other creatives who want to connect.
Obviously, during the coronavirus we are unable to visit these places, but I think, with everyone having more free time then they’re used to, it’s given some people a different kind of inspiration. They are now able to focus more time on their hobbies, or maybe start a new project that had been pushed to the back of the queue.
I know that I’ve definitely made sure not to waste my time on furlough, and was able to spend a majority of the time drawing, updating my website and brand and working on some side projects. I was also able to post much more frequently on my Instagram, which has now become fairly popular. It’s been great to engage with other artists on Instagram.
CL: What’s your next project that you have lined up?
HOB: I always have a number of different ideas and projects going at a time, jumping from one to the other in a matter of days. It may sound like a recipe for not getting anything finished, but I believe that you have to act on inspiration the moment it strikes, otherwise it will fade.
I’ll always come back to a project if I think its a particularly good one and just recently I’ve started to use an app to keep track of all my ideas so I don’t forget any. Some of the items on the list include a 3D rendered Empire State Building space animation, a floor lamp that focuses heavily on user interaction to control the brightness, a bronze sculpture of a great horned owl and I’ve also started a collaboration project with some other artist on Instagram, which I’m looking forward to releasing soon.
The collaboration idea features 15 different artists from around the globe, we each have to draw the landmarks from our own city in our own style, then I will combine the drawings into one on photoshop. You can find all our work using the hashtag #globalinkers.
Henry has also created several other illustrations around London and the UK.
Follow Henry on Instagram.
Visit Henry’s website.
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Article by Oliver Gudgeon.