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Local Spotlight: Louisa Cookson, artist

Local Spotlight: Louisa Cookson, artist


Louisa Cookson is a Shepherds Bush—based mum of two and local artist.  Originally from Scotland, she studied at Glasgow School of Art and the Mackintosh School of Architecture. She went on to work in the field of Architecture for four years before becoming a freelance illustrator by chance.  She credits her unique style to her architectural training, which combines freehand sketching and computer-aided drawing.  Her pictures depict the local urban landscape in a vibrant, colourful and fun manner.

In addition to her limited edition prints, she also accepts commissions and offers ‘Get Sketched In’ adaptations where a family member, friend or even you can be sketched into one of her lovely street scenes – making it extra personal.

WLM recently caught up with Louisa:

Do you have a specific area you love to capture?

Anywhere that’s full of people and colour within a built environment which has depth and height, allowing me to play with the scale and perspective and really exaggerate certain elements.

What is your process?

I start off working in free-hand to lay out the initial composition of a sketch. Then I overlay hundreds of photographs to flesh it out and bring the scene to life.  I upload the sketch onto the computer and it gets finalised.  It’s coloured in great detail in Photoshop over the course of 150 + hours.

How do you decide what landmarks will make the cut into your street scenes?

I often use famous landmarks in my illustrations purely as secondary reference points, which help orientate the viewer, but my priority is always to represent an everyday place in a new and exciting way.

Askew Rd (Adaptation)

How does the ‘Get Sketched In’ adaptation work?

A client will buy one of the prints available on the site for the set price and then pay extra to have the illustration adapted to include them, and/or their partner, their kids, their house, car, extra shops or pubs etc.

The price for this varies depending on the extent of the adaptation work requested. The process usually involves meeting/talking with the client, going over ideas of what they might want to include in the sketch, laying out a rough price for them and then putting together a mock-up sketch for them, showing the new composition before they commit to the commission.

Once they have agreed, they either provide some photos or I take the photos myself. I then work on the illustration and email them a preview before they approved it.

What’s the lead time required for the ‘Get Sketched In’ series?

Once I have all the photographs and we’ve met and discussed how they want to be placed, a family of four members looking to be added within a street scene will take a day or two to put together and complete. If something is needed urgently I can shuffle things around and make every effort to accommodate.


How do your commissions work and what is the lead-time required?

My private bespoke commissions make up the main body of my work. These vary enormously in scope and size with each client type. I am currently working on two very large-scale pieces, one for an NHS-funded mixed-use building and another for a large commercial design practice in London.

Next to these I also have a number of smaller-scale bespoke commissions for individual families. This is the type of work I really enjoy most as it is often an intimate piece that looks to tell the story of one family’s way of life set within the beautiful architectural perfections and imperfections of their home (see the above example).

All of my work ends up as a digitally formatted piece, so it can be printed as large as the client needs and can also more than once if needed.

With the bespoke commissions of people’s houses, they can take anywhere from 120 to 160 hours of work and I usually need around 4 to 6 months lead time for them.

Tell us about your football series.

Another avenue of work which I am keen to explore in the future, is the depiction of football stadiums, as both limited edition prints and for adaptations where the football fan can be sketched in to the crowd, watching their team win. I have started upon this idea by first illustrating my local football team Q.P.R  (which can be seen on my website) and have worked on a number of adaptations of this print already. In the future, I would be very interested in building a portfolio of other clubs.


With such a keen eye on west London, where are your favourite places to play, eat, shop and hang out?

I’m actually never really out much as I love my work just now and have to really put in the hours in the evenings to work it around the child-care etc. But with my little girl just having started primary school I have found myself on the Uxbridge Road a lot more than I used to be, doing the school runs, and I do really like my morning walk up and down there. Also, I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 7 years now and I have only just recently discovered Acton Park café. It’s my new favourite place to go on a Wednesday morning with my 1-year-old.

Most important, where can people buy your portraits?

I have an online shop on my website which sells limited edition prints of my street scenes and I also sell my work for 4 days at the beginning of each month at Spitalfields Market.

Louisa’s prints start at £80.

For more information, please visit:


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