Illustrated London

Ahead of the publication of illustrated map book London Walks, Design Week caught up with illustrator and author Joanna Walsh, aka Badaude, to chat about her charming hand-drawn guide to the capital.

London Walks by Badaude
London Walks by Badaude

Design Week: What inspired you to create the book?

Joanna Walsh: I’m not a Londoner born and bred. When I first moved here, I’d just finished a degree in English Literature. I’d spent all my life building up a mental map of the city through books but, although I’d visited a few times, I’d never experienced the city day-in, day-out. It was interesting to draw a map of personal experiences on top of the map of everything I’d read. And, after living in different parts of the city for several years, I found parts of my experience crossed other parts, like lines drawn on a map, some hard and some faint, each erasing and distorting others I’d made. I wanted to draw attention to and replicate this multilayered, four dimensional experience of being in a city.  

Brick Lane by Joanna Walsh
Brick Lane by Joanna Walsh

DW: How did you decide what to include in each of the drawings?

Walsh: I revisited each area to map out possible walks. I had a few objects in mind but also let my walks be dictated by what looked interesting on that particular day. Things I experienced and witnessed on each walk, as well as personal memories and things I’d read and seen about each area, fed into a melting pot until I noticed themes emerge.  Each walk became a mini essay: Oxford Street is all about desire, Hammersmith is about leisure and Theobald’s row is about utopias but none of the accompanying maps I produced are necessarily linear. The walker can choose a start and an end point to create his or her own experience of the places I’ve visited.

Oxford Street by Joanna Walsh
Oxford Street by Joanna Walsh

DW: Which is your favourite walk and why?

Walsh: It’s difficult to choose. It might well be the Theobald’s Road/Utopias Row walk which is overlaid with so many levels of memory for me. It’s where I worked when I first moved to London, I spent a couple of years studying at Central Saint Martin’s. It’s a very old part of London and some of my favourite books are set in this area.

Why walk cities? by Joanna Walsh
Why walk cities? by Joanna Walsh

DW: Talk me through your illustration style.

Walsh: I’m somewhere between being an illustrator and a writer. I prefer to include writing on my illustrations but my frames are also usually far less linear than those in traditional strip cartoon. I often use one big frame where, just as in life, things happen simultaneously or in an order that is difficult to disentangle. I’m much more interested in using black and white than colour and, after a period of drawing on Adobe Illustrator with a Wacom tablet, I  now do everything with Rotring Rapidographs, with a bit of clean-up in Photoshop.

London Walks by Badaude will be published by Tate Publishing on 2 June, priced at £8.99.

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