Search our site
Search our site

Catching up with... Lucy Sullivan

Lucy Sullivan studied Illustration Animation at Kingston University and graduated in 2005. She is now an award-winning freelance artist and animator. Her latest project, Barking, is a graphic novel which draws upon personal experiences of a mental health crisis

What have you been up to since graduating?

Not long after I graduated, I started teaching Evening Life Drawing at Kingston University. I went on to teach further Observational Drawing and Life Drawing for Animation classes at the London College of Communication, University for the Creative Arts and Westminster University.

As part of a collective with fellow Kingston students, I co-directed and animated music videos for Coldcut and One Eskimo. The latter video won ‘Public Choice: Best Music Video' at the British Animation Awards. I've also drawn story and visual effects boards, and backgrounds for film and television.

I continue my fine art practice through location drawing and life drawing with the Dulwich Art Group, and will soon be selling prints and original works through my website and at exhibitions.

I am currently trying to fulfil a lifelong ambition of writing and drawing a graphic novel called Barking. It will be an allegorical tale based around the experience of myself and others during a mental health crisis. It's the story of Alix, who, whilst having a very bad day, finds herself sectioned and left in the hands of an umbrella health system. Barking is a tale of grief, madness and the ghosts that haunt us.

Why did you choose Kingston?

When I returned to studying I thought it would be Fine Art but I found myself equally passionate for drawing and animation. The BA at Kingston offered not only the opportunity to practice both but with exciting teaching practices alongside traditional skills. I think by focusing on learning how to draw and tell stories, and then how to experiment and self-direct your work is why Kingston students go on to achieve great success.

What are your best memories from your student days at Kingston?

The field trips were excellent. We drew on location in Seville and Valencia. My friend and fellow student Dorry Spikes and I would split off and go exploring. We found exciting little meeting places, got proposed to by ex-matadors and invited to local Flamenco nights. It was an extraordinary way to meet people and was a highlight of my degree. 

Have you been back to Kingston since graduating?

Yes, frequently. I taught an evening life drawing class at Knights Park for 9 years as well as Location Drawing with the Illustration Animation BA. I try to catch the degree shows but missed a few when on sabbatical after having my daughter. Recently I lead a module with second year students, drawing in Greenwich and on the Southbank. It's a difficult and often chilly challenge to draw in public, but Kingston students know how to step up and tackle it often with exciting results.

Are you still in touch with anyone from Kingston?

Yes, very much so. Kingston was and still is for me a community of likeminded people. I'm in regular contact with classmates from my degree, tutors and ex-students from both my evening class and degree students I've taught in the past. The joy of teaching in the arts is that you are always working with students from a personal perspective so naturally you form bonds and friendships during the process. I'm very proud of the artists I've worked with and humbled by those that are supporting me, in turn, with my graphic novel.

What's your greatest achievement?

Surviving my mental health crisis, finding art as a coping strategy and going on to gain a degree was utterly life changing for me. When it's finished I'm sure my graphic novel will be up there too. But by far the hardest and most surprising thing I've ever attempted is raising my daughter. The challenges and rewards of parenting are greater and far more complex than I had ever imagined. 

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

You will get through this and it will get better. Also to steal from William Goldman, "Nobody knows anything".

Tell us something no one would guess about you.

I'm surprisingly handy with my toes! I think, with a bit of practice, I could probably draw with my feet instead of my hands. Perhaps that will be the next stage in my art practice...

Lucy is crowdfunding for her novel with Unbound, and presented a 'Barking: a work-in-progress' talk at Laydeez Do Comics on Monday 8 January 2018.