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My Inspirations: Maggie Li


Maggie Li created this season’s cover illustration for SHOP Istanbul Style, based on the city’s hip Karaköy area. Li is known for her textural and imaginative print-like illustrations, and has previously been commissioned by the Sunday Times, YCN and Little White Lies magazine, among others. We speak to her about her influences, her favourite places to shop in London and her dream commission

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When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
Before I knew I could be an illustrator I wanted to be a fine artist. I went to university to do an art foundation and discovered I could make a career out of illustrating, so I went on to do a degree at Kingston University.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration for me comes from everywhere and usually when I least expect it. The internet helps a lot, but I try to remove myself from my desk and go outside to find ideas.

Which materials do you prefer to work with and why? Do you have a favourite pen or paper?
This is where I have to confess that all my work is digitally done. I always sketch out roughs, but the final work is all produced digitally. So I couldn’t do anything without my Wacom.

Do you think that where you live has influenced your style?
I was born and raised in London, and it’s the city I know and love best. It’s endlessly inspiring, with an amazing art scene and network of illustrators.

You illustrated the cover for SHOP Istanbul Style autumn/winter 2013/14; do you know the destination well? Do you have any great memories of travelling there?
I wasn’t familiar with Istanbul at all – although I definitely want to visit now! The mix of European and Asian cultures in the city is really interesting, especially the architecture. I’m partial to bit of baklava, too …

Where did you start when designing the cover for SHOP Istanbul Style?
I had a great starting point in Karaköy, the area covered in the cover feature. So the first thing to go down was the skyline, and then I plotted out the activities within.

Did it turn out the way you expected?
It’s turned out pretty well. It’s quite a full image, with lots of detail and activity; it all happens at dawn, so part of the challenge was to make it look like sunrise and not sunset.

What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit your home town? What are your favourite places to shop in the city?
I’m a big lover of markets, from food to antiques: Borough, Portobello and Brick Lane are must-sees! I also love Brixton Village indoor market, which has the best selection of affordable food from around the world and some lovely independent shops.

Which five items will you never travel without? What’s always in your bag?
Headphones, iPhone, a good read, sunglasses and a snack.

And finally, what would be your dream commission?
I’ve always wanted to illustrate packaging for food, something I could show my mum in the supermarket and say, ‘Look, I made this!’

Want to know more about SHOP magazine's cover art? Click here

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