About Lulibell Studio
Who's behind Lulibell Studio?
Hello, I'm Lieha.
I'm a self-taught illustrator from the north of England, now living in Sydney, Australia.
Lulibell Studio is a one-lady band, but I can't help but say 'we'. It makes my small business feel all proper. My husband provides live-in tech support, deliveries of cups of tea and Haribo and is my second pair of eyes.
Why Lulibell Studio?
My name is Lieha (like Leah) but to my family, I'm Lulibell (pronounced Loo-Lee-Bell), Luli or Lu. I have absolutely no idea where it came from, but it's been my nickname my whole life.
Why did you start Lulibell Studio?
It all started when I won a national Childline cartoon competition when I was 11.
Just kidding, but that probably backs up my claim that I have always been a creative kid. I've usually got a couple of projects on the go, whether it's drawing, painting, trying to crochet or knit, learning calligraphy and brush lettering, sewing or baking.
I got back into drawing when I moved to Australia. The planets aligned when I won a few drawing rounds on a couple of Zoom quizzes during Covid and got an iPad and Procreate. Not kidding this time, that's really what sparked it. I found myself enjoying digital art in a big way. I'm a bit of a recovering perfectionist, so I think it's the ability to undo or rub out mistakes without damaging the rest of the drawing that won me over.
I found myself drawing mental health-centred designs to put up in key places around our home to remind me to check in with myself and to gift to friends and family. And I figured that you might like to do the same. So here we are!
Why the focus on mental health?
Here's a very rough timeline that might explain why I'm so passionate about mental health. I won't go into too much detail, but it would be hypocritical of me to promote having candid conversations about mental health without sharing a bit of my own story. Trigger warning: References to depression, anxiety and medication.
During my psychology degree, I found myself drawn to depression, anxiety and other clinical disorders. I had a rough time with my own mental health at university, so embraced what I'd learnt and went to the GP. Fortunately it helped, but it was a pretty poor show from my doctor not to offer me any further support. So I struggled through knowing university would eventually end. In my final year, I signed up as a Proctor (like a more formal buddy) to support a group of new students through their first year as a way to try and prevent the same thing happening to them.
Pretty much every member of my family has had their own struggles with their mental health, give or take, and I only started to discover this as I opened up about my mental health whilst at university. I realised we'd all suffered similar things, and we just weren't talking to each other about it. So I made a commitment to have more candid, open conversations about it. Thankfully my family are all pretty open now, so we're used to having both casual and more serious conversations about our mental health on the regular.
I've accessed support from various counsellors, coaches and medication in the past, and I was lucky enough to find a combination that worked for me. I am a huge advocate for trying different options until you find out what helps you.
Before I left the UK, I spent a number of years working in a brand new UK university and I had the opportunity to create something that my university hadn't been able to provide me with - a personal, supportive and attentive mental health and wellbeing service. I built a team of brilliant Student Support staff, and we worked with local counsellors, psychologists and Samaritans to create an incredible system that I am so proud of. The defining factor for me was that time after time, our students said they felt supported and that we cared about their wellbeing.
So now I want to take everything I've learnt personally and professionally, and create cute illustrations for your walls, fireplaces or bookcases to spark conversations about mental health - the good and the bad - and remind you to take care of yours. I also make a donation to Lifeline Australia with every purchase. To find out more about Lifeline Australia and why I chose to support them, click here.
I can't say I don't still struggle to open up sometimes, but I genuinely feel a huge sense of relief when I do finally tell someone everything that's going on in my head, usually over a good cry. There's always the worry that depressive symptoms or debilitating anxiety will creep back in, but checking in with myself and having people around me who know what to look for helps me to stay on track.
Now here's the disclaimer - while I've got a fair amount of experience with mental health and wellbeing, I'm not a counsellor or psychiatrist, nor are my illustrations a replacement for professional help. If you need help, please seek it. Here are a list of organisations who can help in Australia and the UK.
What's your set up?
I use my iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and a programme called Procreate for 100% of my illustrations. Because I'm an absolute control freak, I set up my own professional home studio so I can make sure that every print that leaves my hands and reaches yours looks and feels exactly how I intended. My professional printer is the Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-300 and my website photography is taken using my Nikon D5300 DSLR.
What else do you do?
Between doodles, you can find me at the beach, baking or learning to play the piano.
I'm 5"2 and a half (that half an inch is very important), left handed and have absolutely no sense of direction. Thrilling I know.
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