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Interview with artist Lynnie Zulu

Thursday 22 December 2016
Words Spindle

East London based artist Lynnie Zulu uses a distinctively bold colour palette, working with ink, paint, and paint pens to create her stunning artwork. Often focusing on women, she captures charismatic, femme fatale-like characters, with personality oozing from her work. Her work is playful, vibrant and energetic, and sophisticated, mysterious, and glamorous all at the same time. Her stunning use of primary colours and bold black lines and shapes means her art is immediately recognisable. She has produced work for Monki, MAC, Nike and Absolut Vodka among others, and has exhibited solo and in group exhibitions across the UK, Europe, and the USA. Captivated by her brilliant artwork, we asked Lynnie to reveal more about her art, her creative process, and what she wants to say with her work.

What made you want to create and become an artist?

Ever since I can remember I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Although, for a brief moment I wanted to be a ‘shop keeper,’ but that was merely for the easy access to sweeties jars – I think I was sugar deprived in my youth! I had a very creative upbringing, my mother was an artist and my father was a textile designer. I grew up in the Scottish Borders, which is mostly populated by sheep and pretty bleak most the year. I think it definitely challenged my imagination. I found myself becoming hugely involved in the worlds of my drawings, which were either of people or intricate, imaginary aerial views of the cities where they lived. Drawing would be the one thing that kept me up late at night, which is still the case!


How did you develop your own artistic style?

The content of my work hasn’t drifted far from what I began creating as a child. Landscapes and still life was never of interest, but faces, people and personalities have always stimulated me. I studied illustration at Kingston University, which was wonderful, although the focus on structure and narrative somehow delayed the full development of my artistic style and I found myself rebelling against the briefs and creating much darker work. It wasn’t until I left university and had a solid few months at home that my style was completely unleashed. Somehow, working without any parameters allowed my work to develop at an intense speed. It was incredibly liberating.

Tell us about your fantastic use of bright colours.

I love colour. My environments are usually very colourful places. I think being a child of the 90’s and also a complete Spice Girls obsessed freak certainly made its roots. In my work I often try to produce more tonal imagery, but it’s never long before I return to my usual primary colour palette. I’m very interested in the simple colour combinations and the feelings they evoke. Colour is the simplest thing that can either turn me on or check me out.


Women are often the subjects of your work – tell us about this.

I am completely inspired by women, there is so much that I want to capture and understand, and do justice to in my work. Women usually do exist as muses in art, art mostly created by men. I hope that by being a woman myself, I can give a more empowering representation of women as a force, through the female gaze.

Do you have a favourite series or piece of your own work? 

I don’t have any favourites as such. I think the work that speaks to me the most are unfinished raw ideas that are usually found in my sketchbooks, or on old scraps of paper. I’m drawn to the liberating unconscious nature that is found in those pieces. My mind is usually in a very open state when I create those ideas, which is always key for me in producing good work.


Which commissions have you most enjoyed? 

I loved my collaboration with the fashion label Monki. I did a summer collection with them last summer and they seriously amped up the ante and applied my work to an array of crazy designs, which was a wonderful meeting of minds. They threw one hell of a party too!

What’s your creative process?

Sketchbooks are a very important part of my creative process. I work in them everyday; I really love the organic nature of them. It’s very important to me that all my work has a spontaneous energy and is created on impulse. Once I have an idea that excites me, I work it up to a larger scale, usually using paint pens and Japanese ink. I tend to only use Photoshop when adjusting colours – the digital world is slightly alien to me.

#Gucci geek catwalk chic! ??

A video posted by Lynnie.Z (@lynnie.z) on

What are you currently working on?

Lot’s of very exciting projects which I unfortunately have to keep quiet about until 2017…eek!

Is there something you want to say or convey with your illustrations?

I want my illustrations to make people feel good, to emit a positive energy. I want them to convey an inspiring, passionate and expressive mood. An attitude and sensual emotion. Depicting women in their various guises and their beguiling complexity is at the centre of my work.


What’s your dream brief or project?

I’d love to be sailed away to a small island for a month or two, to focus solely on work for a big solo show. All the dream materials in abundance, in a dream studio, with the perfect light

View more of Lynnie Zulu’s work at lynniezulu.com.