Artist Profile: Leanne McWilliams

Leanne McWilliams is a Belfast based illustrator with a knack for narrative. Leanne graduated with a degree in Graphic Design & Illustration from Ulster University and has worked with the likes of FairPlé, the Queen’s Film Theatre and a multitude of local musicians. Leanne spoke to The Jumble about illustration, feminism, and the local creative scene.

My work is mainly figurative, exploring local characters and far off worlds with equal enthusiasm. 

I’m deeply interested in people and their stories, especially through the scope of feminism and the female gaze. Music also has a huge influence on my work. I always have something playing while I draw, and when I do go out to see live bands, I’m never without a sketchbook shoved in the bottom of my bag. 

“For the most part, I use my illustrations to explore things happening in my life. Good or bad, I record it all; drawing on these experiences to create wider narratives and more abstract imagery.” 

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic I’ve spent even more time recording the world around me. My sketchbooks are full of masks, hand sanitising stations, and nostalgia trips through the boxes of my childhood bedroom. For a long time, lockdown left me unmotivated and a little bit lost, but being able to put all these strange and unusual situations down on paper has been a massive help. Stringing these little snapshots together keeps me going, and hopefully they resonate with other people navigating these weird times. 

I feel extremely fortunate to be part of an art scene that continues to grow, and thrive, in the face of adversity. The online outpouring of work during this pandemic being just one example. We’re wonderfully stubborn. 

Recently, I had the honour of being featured in Composure Zine, a publication that provides a platform for creatives in the DIY music scene. The zine also donates all revenue to support non-profit organisations such as No More Dysphoria, which is really cool!

You can check out more of Leanne’s work on Instagram or on www.leanne-mcwilliams.com

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