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Leeds depicted in illustration

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We asked Emma Stewart to sum up her incredible piece ‘Independent Leeds’ & to shine a spotlight on the creative illustrator.

I’m an illustrator based in Leeds, creating artwork inspired by my everyday surroundings. The journalistic nature of my work communicates observations from my everyday life and explores the beauty in smaller details. I often create work for online & editorial marketing alongside working on personal commissions. I have recently launched a collection of greeting cards, these will be popping up in and around Leeds in independent stores.

Clients include: CITU Development, Eyzon Recruitment and The Green Room.

Independent Leeds is a celebration of Leeds’ vibrant independent scene and a love letter to my home city. The illustrated piece acts as my personal travel guide of my favourite spots around the city with emphasis on local indie venues, small businesses and establishments for a unique insider’s guide to Leeds.

In a sea of illustrated frontages, drenched in rich colours, and with a contemporary, personal approach, the descriptive piece fuses Leeds architecture. The iconic red brick buildings of Leeds are collaged to create multi-faceted interpretations of the city with recognizable landmarks such as Art Deco inspired, The Tetley and the grand Victorian architecture of Kirkgate Market and the Corn Exchange.

The form of each building, in a somewhat, geographically inspired map, enables you to find joy in the smaller details or even see something new each time. With a sense of nostalgia, I highlight the places which hold a special place for me and, hopefully, that might evoke the same feeling for someone else. 

Described as a ‘snapshot of Leeds in 2022’, it communicates with anyone who has connections to the city whilst also inspiring others to explore the city through my own lens, emphasising the importance of community and how the indie scene of Leeds helps to form the city’s unique culture.

I am drawn to brightly painted frontages, grand architecture above a standard corner store, fonts used on signs and sparkling lights which make you want to explore what’s going on inside. As a people watcher, I am completely observant of my everyday life in the city. Whilst making Independent Leeds over the last couple of months, I spent copious amounts of time staring out of my window watching a new housing development slowly come to life. 

I find comfort in the familiarity of walking past the same buildings each day, visiting the same coffee shops, finding the tastiest lunch menus and knowing where to see the newest upcoming bands.

Leeds is a great place to be as a creative person, with its ever growing artist community, there’s always something to see whether it be new exhibitions, indie makers markers, gigs and events popping up.Please find more of my work at @emmastew_art and my online shop via Etsy.