For the curious
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Lucy Mahon and I draw pictures!
Where are you and what are you doing right now?
I’m currently in the front room of my East London flat, where I draw at a big table. It’s covered in reference books and pots of pens. I’m having a break from packaging up a couple of commissions I’ve just finished.
Can you tell us a little about your history and how you ended up becoming an illustrator?
I’ve always loved drawing pictures, ever since I was little. Loads of ‘dream houses’ with hanging baskets in the 90s. I considered studying practical art but ended up doing History of Art & English at Leeds, while taking up as many drawing electives as I could. I spent a decade in the advertising world, in the more commercial side of art and brands and with some wonderful people.
After a bit of a break from drawing, I started to illustrate my old houses, then my friends’ houses, and it went from there. Every holiday I went on I’d draw. Then people started commissioning me. After a few years of doing both advertising and illustrating, eventually I took the leap to illustrate full-time last summer. It was a pretty scary decision in many ways, but the right one.
Your work predominantly features buildings, what is it that fascinates you about architecture?
It started with homes, and the importance of that place in my life.
On a broader level, I love the timelessness of buildings. I read a David Hockney quote in a book the other day which explained that if you’re always replacing old buildings with new ones, a place can become like “a human being without a memory”. Which is one of the reasons I love London - its layers and layers of different buildings from different eras, a pic n mix of architecture. Some you might like, some you might not, but they’re there.
You focus on the outside of buildings, this gives a sense of untold stories held within the walls – would you ever explore interiors and characters?
Never say never, but drawing people hasn’t been a focus for me. Interiors are definitely something I’m starting to do more of. I’m also exploring things that signify a place, like a sea of palms = Palm Springs.
Which other artists do you admire and find inspiration from?
I get so much inspiration from architects, like the late William Krisel who helped make Palm Springs what it is today. I love Fee Greening’s work (@FeeGreening) - she does amazing quill and ink drawings that manage to be modern but also timeless. I love experiencing Yayoi Kusama’s work and her autobiography was brilliant, her relentless creativity and production really inspiring. The RA’s recent ‘Picasso On Paper’ exhibition reminded me that it’s ok to evolve, experiment and change your style without the burden of feeling inconsistent.
Do you work listening to music and if so do you have recommendations for music to help you focus?
I’ve recently gotten into listening to true crime podcasts while drawing (am about five years late to that). Otherwise, I used to listen to Friends, but I was going through those too fast.
Any buildings or places you would love to illustrate but haven’t yet?
There is a never-ending list! Illustrating all of the Barbican buildings is high up there. And I want to do a series of the ‘Dingbat’ apartment buildings of LA.
Your images are often urban, do you ever feel the need to escape to the countryside, or do you feel relaxed in the city?
I love working and living in London and never really tire of it. I’d actually say I feel the urge to explore different parts of London more regularly, rather than escape it. It’s truly an amazing city. I do travel a fair amount, so I try to keep some of that tourist curiosity while I’m at home.
The most switched off I’ve been was during an Airbnb stay in the middle of a redwood forest in Elk, California. Four days with no wifi or signal (a pack of cards and a record player) was great for the mind. That place was @ElkCaliforniaForestRetreat.
What’s next for you?
I am working on some bigger pieces, looking to partner up with like-minded brands and am planning a solo show.
Tell us about nothing
Nothing is as refreshing as an outdoor swim in the local lido.