Illustrating Life Under Lockdown

Course: BA (Hons) Illustration

14 May 2020

Student Lizzie Knott standing against a blue and cream tiled wall

My name is Lizzie Knott and I am a 3rd Year Illustration student. Being a student in lockdown has been a surreal experience. I didn’t expect to be completing my degree from my home, however, it has given me some time to really reflect on my intentions as an illustrator.

On Friday 17 April 2020, I was interviewed by the BBC around the theme of mental health and how Covid-19 is affecting mine. Fast forward a few days and my article has been read by millions, my inbox is full of messages from those telling me that they can relate to how I am feeling and the BBC are sharing my artwork across all of their platforms. Mental health has always been something that I have communicated through my work and it feels rewarding to be helping those feeling lost and lonely during this period.

I was on the front page of the BBC website for a couple of days and every time I would go onto the app, it would completely throw me off. I never expected to see my work on such a significant platform. They posted the illustrations that I made on their Instagram account, which has 12.3 million followers, and also posted a twitter thread on their BBC (World) account that quoted me and displayed my work. 

It is safe to say that I am overwhelmed, but in a positive way. Up until now, I never saw myself as a freelance illustrator. I was preparing myself to apply for jobs as a junior designer in London after this passes over, with the help of the employment bureau who helped me refine my CV, ready for those important steps leading up to graduation. However, now I am faced with a completely different scenario. I have been approached by an agent and I am realising that I could in fact eventually be a freelance illustrator, if I keep working as hard as I have been up until now. 

Lizzie Knott sofa illustration
Lizzie Knott Illustration
Lizzie Knott Illustration

My work has evolved so much over the past couple of years since transferring to ARU and the support has been endless. The resources have really helped me achieve professional standards across my work, the studio spaces have been inspiring and most importantly, the tutors have been incredibly supportive! You can tell that they really care about you at ARU and want to see you evolve into successful creatives by the time your degree comes to an end. My peers have also been incredibly supportive, we look out for each other and the atmosphere across the studios has been so positive during my time at ARU – it has definitely made a big impact on me. 

I want to especially thank my tutor, Chris Draper, for using Zoom as a platform to continue this support whilst we have been in quarantine. The weekly group crit sessions have allowed us to retain that positive atmosphere and we have still been able to get help on our work – both from Chris and our peers. It hasn’t been an easy time, so it has been reassuring to see us all come together to help us complete our degrees together as best as we can. The support since I transferred has been overwhelming too. I have felt like part of the Illustration at ARU family since day one. The Lisbon trip definitely helped me with that - see: From Cornwall to Cambridge.

It is safe to say that moving from my previous university to Cambridge School of Art has been the best decision I have ever made. The community and support from both my peers and staff has been overwhelming and has helped me to become the illustrator that I am today, so thank you. I am excited to see what the future holds for both me, and my class.