Finding a new me, via illustration

Illustration of lipsticklori by Stuart F Taylor

The iconic shot of lipsticklori that was a profile pic for 5 yearsBack in 2010, I snapped a self portrait with my phone using an app called Toy Camera. As this was the first ever Android phone, and so it would be another two years until I could install Instagram, I was still trying to find a camera app that would recreate some of the features that I had grown to love via lomography. Thankfully the crazy colours of cross processing, plus the strong vignette and heightened contrast that the lens of the little Lomo LC-A provided in strong light, were becoming highly sought after by amateur digital photographers too and so it wasn’t long before I found a favourite app. On this particular day, my hair was looking good and so I snapped a quick photo of myself against a yellow wall at my parents’ house, which the app turned green. I liked the colours and so cropped it square and uploaded it as my profile picture on every social media platform I had an account on.

Illustration of lipsticklori by Stuart F TaylorNow, I’ve never changed my ‘avatar’ as often as I change my nail polish, and that’s perhaps part of the reason why, when a couple of years later I swapped my Twitter profile picture to a lovely shot of me that was taken by photographer Matt Christie, all hell broke loose. Everyone liked the new photo, but demanded a return to the distinctive red and green that made my tweets stand out. I was surprised, but completely understood as that green background had somehow become essential to my personal brand online. I switched it back and vowed to leave it alone for a while. However, earlier this year I realised that the photo was five years old and no longer representative of me. Now that I am becoming adept at trimming my own fringe, I rarely brush it to one side when it’s long and it always looks extremely neat. Plus I wear glasses all the time now and I wondered if people perhaps couldn’t recognise me from my Twitter pic (which I also have on the back of my Moo cards, to help folk remember me).

After I pondered finding a green background to try and recreate the original photo, I realised that the answer was right in front of me in the form of the illustrations of Stuart F Taylor, aka @chainbear. Having asked Stuart if he’d be interested in updating the image for me, I sent him the original shot plus links to more recent photos of my hair, glasses and a favourite necklace. I couldn’t quite believe how perfect the finished image was when it appeared in my inbox a few days later, and would highly recommend commissioning Stuart for any illustration work that you can dream up as he was an absolute pleasure to deal with. Oh, and you should probably check out his awesome Etsy shop too.

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Image from a tour of the UAL Archives & Special Collections Centre