Lilja Cardew, a BA (Hons) Illustration student from Iceland, chats to us about risk taking in their creative practice, their love for the University facilities and how watching the seasons change in the UK is one of their new favourite things...

What helped you decide to study at Leeds Arts University?

I have always wanted to live in the UK as there is a deep appreciation for illustration amongst other creative industries here. I attended an event in Reykjavík where a former student of the University gave a talk about the course. At that point I was not sure whether I wanted to study fine art or illustration but the way she spoke about the illustration course solidified my choice and I have not regretted it for a moment!

Film: Courtesy of Lilja Cardew

If you had to give a fresher three pieces of advice for studying at Leeds Arts University, what would they be?

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the building and its facilities. They are a big part of what your school fees go towards so don’t be afraid to take full advantage of them!

Secondly, find your people. Having the right people around you is so important and can enhance your experience at university so much.

Lastly, take risks and don’t hold back! Three years go by so fast and being a student comes with so much freedom. This is the time to fully explore the extent of your creative practice!

Image: Courtesy of Lilja Cardew

Tell us which resources and facilities you use the most, and how they help you develop your practice.

What is so wonderful about illustration is that it is so diverse and can be explored in any medium.

I have used the printing facilities a lot, screen printing mainly, as well as the ceramics studio. Ceramics has been such a useful tool. Whenever I feel a bit stuck in my head which happens a lot, I like to throw some pots! It’s a very physical, grounding, and meditative practice.

Apart from that I try to take advantage of the big, bright studio spaces we have in the illustration department as much as possible!

Image: Courtesy of Lilja Cardew

What was your route to university - what did you study before starting University? Did you always have an interest in BA (Hons) Illustration?

I studied classical piano from the age of 8 and have a degree from Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Paris in piano, which is what I always thought I would do for the rest of my life. Drawing and painting was always something I did on the side. I was about to enter a university degree at Manhattan School of Music in New York but I didn’t feel that it was 100% the right choice. Classical piano is extremely competitive and high pressure, and to do it all day every day didn’t sit right since I had so many other interests. So, I decided to give illustration a chance (and piano a break).

Image: Courtesy of Lilja Cardew

What do you like about living in Leeds?

I love Leeds for its proximity to nature, a few minutes on a train and you are in the countryside, as well as the big and beautiful parks! There is not a lot of greenery in Iceland and the seasons are not very pronounced. Watching the seasons change is my new favourite thing!

Apart from that there are so many exciting things going on in Leeds! The music scene is amazing and there are lots of interesting events to attend or take part in! The people here are friendly and the atmosphere is very welcoming.