At work with: Lucy Mahon

We visited Lucy in her bright and colourful East London studio to talk about her love of both the city and countryside, her upcoming projects and her new creative process.
Artist Lucy Mahon
At work with: Lucy Mahon

Lucy Mahon is an artist known for her colourful, cheerful illustrations of the objects and places that surround her. Lucy grew up in Watford and now lives in East London; you can see the inspiration that London has brought to her work, whether it’s the flowers on Columbia Road, the swimmers in London Fields Lido or the hustle and bustle of Portobello Road Market.

Her work is fun and carefree, always using beautifully rich colour to portray her creations with an occasional piece of illustrated text to accompany the image. Lucy has previously worked with the likes of Net-A-Porter, Fortnum & Mason, Squarespace and Print Club London.

Lucy Mahon foxglove pastel drawing

Can you think of a specific moment where you knew you wanted to be an artist?

It’s been a meandering and very gradual process. Creativity, making things and art has been a constant part of my life in varying ways. I’ve loved drawing and making stuff ever since I was little; my mum reminds me of when I’d draw pictures of spiders as a toddler when I’d accompany her on cleaning jobs. I studied English and History of Art at university but also took practical art electives whenever I could, and then spent nearly a decade in the advertising industry while doing my own drawing projects in parallel. Eventually I made the decision to take the jump and make art full time, which was scary but so worth it.

Colourful artist pastels

You grew up in Watford – would you say you’re a city girl?

After about ten years living in London it still feels exciting to me, and while I love to travel and get out into sprawling nature, there’s no shortage of inspiration here. I try not to take it for granted; it has nature and history and the most incredible mixture of buildings. The last year or so has made me especially appreciate its pockets of nature – hidden garden squares, grand parks and wildflower patches.

At work with: Lucy Mahon 1

You describe your work as ‘visual love letters to the world’. Can you tell us more?

It’s a real mix. It’s often driven from personal rituals or things that bring me comfort and happiness. For example when I’ve drawn urban landscapes and buildings it’s because I love the ritual of walking or riding around, looking at the ways different places are made up. During the first lockdown I got my first set of soft pastels and drew a pastel drawing a day, based on small happenings or daily highlights – what I had for lunch, snippets from phone calls or observations from neighbourhood walks. I pinned them up on my walls and it became a bit of a daily diary. This process really informs the way I work now; a lot of my collections are based on looking back at my (often very brief) chronological notes and lists.

Artist, Lucy Mahon

What does scent mean to you?

It’s definitely a marker of time and has the power to jolt me back years in a moment. In terms of perfume and house scents, I love woody, earthy, forest-like smells.

Lucy Mahon's London Studio

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with us?

I’ve just launched my ‘London Parks’ collection with Fortnum & Mason which was inspired by city nature – their Piccadilly rooftop beehives, nearby parks and the bees that journey in between. It’s made up of four framed limited edition prints and two framed originals and I can’t wait to go and see them hung in the Piccadilly store. 

I’m currently working on a new collection of large wildflower pieces that I’ll release on my website soon; I’ll drop an email to my newsletter subscribers once they’re ready!

Artist, Lucy Mahon's Studio

Do you practice sustainability within your work?

I try to as much as possible, from the materials I use to how I package up my work. Where I can, I’ll collect and re-use cardboard that’s left out at my studios. It’s as good as new and just takes a bit more time to be cut down to size. I’m also lucky to work with really great, local independent printers and framers who are within walking distance of my studio. I think it’s about keeping an open mind as to how you might do things better.

Evermore London Grove Candle

Are you reading anything at the moment?

I’m trying to get better at reading before bed instead of scrolling through my phone which can be such a time suck. I usually prefer non-fiction (recent favourites have been ‘To Pixar and Beyond’ and ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’.) At the moment I’m reading ‘Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency’ by Olivia Laing which caught my eye in the bookshop on Broadway Market. 

I also love buying books for the little people in my life. I’m a big fan of Oliver Jeffers, his stories and illustrations are beautiful. I always stick a little note in the front as I remember that from when I was a child.

Evermore Grove Candle

What is your favourite Evermore scent and why?

The Grove candle. The most relaxed and switched off I’ve ever felt was staying in the middle of a redwood forest in California with no phone signal. Its earthy smell reminds me of that.

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– Images by Liz Seabrook