The Illustrator Interviews: Joanna Lisowiec

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SOPHIE MACKINTOSH: Bold and memorable, Joanna’s work ranges from graphic precision to pastel drawings of landscapes, throwing in some monsters and bears along the way – and somehow she makes it all work together beautifully. Her impressive portfolio spans posters, previous book covers, and some truly wonderful typography. She is currently studying at the Edinburgh College of Art and proclaims to love illustration almost as much as ‘rainbows and unicorns’, which we understand is a lot.

How long have you been illustrating?

I actually didn’t know what illustration really was until I was on the course at ECA, but I have always enjoyed drawing and I knew that it was essential to the practice, so that is what I chose to study. It’s probably the best choice I ever made.

What attracted you to the idea of working on a book cover?

I’d worked on a book cover last year and found it very satisfying, so the thought of doing another one definitely appealed to me. I really enjoy the challenge of conveying the genre, themes and ideas of a book without illustrating it too literally, and I also think my work suits book illustration quite well.

Sum up your aesthetic in 3 words: 

Natural, bold, resonating.

If you were an artistic medium, what would you be? 

Probably an eraser, to be honest! I make so many mistakes and I’m never happy with my own work – but as a crazy baboon once told me; “It’s in the past. If you can’t run from it, learn from it.”

Tell us about your creative workspace? 

I love working in the illustration studio. My desk there is filled with images I have collected for inspiration, as well as an enormous tea collection from which I drink endless cups. My favourite at the moment is hibiscus. It’s great to be around so many imaginative people when you’re working. The atmosphere is bursting with creative juice – or ‘creativitea’, if you prefer!

And finally, how would you describe your perfect map? 

I love combining the world of old and new together. I’m obsessed with the Victorian era – they were so cool back then with their crazy inventions and discoveries. The illustrations from that time period are incomparable. However I also really like the aesthetic of contemporary graphic illustration, and I think I try to span the gap between these two worlds in my work. There is nothing quite like working on top of an old, yellowed, splotchy bit of paper and giving it a new life with your ideas.

Joanna is based in Edinburgh. To contact her, visit:



  1. [...] so much damn talent!) we finally narrowed it down to five finalists; Levi Bunyan, Emily Chappell, Joanna Lisowiec, Alexis Dirks and Catherine Chialton. Each illustrator/artist/graphic designer then submitted draft [...]