Anya and Bex dreamed up Brixton Life Drawing during their commute from Brixton, starting just before lockdown the pair lost their space and their audience when the first lockdown arrived. Brixton Life Drawing moved online early and has seen audiences soar, with hundreds of people logging in to classes from around the world. They’re classes remain pay-what-you-can so there is no barrier for people to get creative. We caught up with them for a quick fire round of questions.
Tell us about your creative practice…
By day we are both Homeware Textile Designers – this involves putting collections together for the homeware industry that are used across soft furnishings. We do everything from sourcing qualities, visiting mills through to the painting of designs. We have seen our designs sold worldwide for some of the biggest brands. By evening, we both run Brixton Life Drawing and run pay-what-you-can classes with the aim of making art accessible to others. We have the luxury of being able to be creative for a living, but for many, the creative world is left behind at school level.
What motivated you to follow a creative career?
A mixture of things: inspiring teachers, accepting parents that didn’t drive either of us into degrees we weren’t passionate about. We both always had a love of all things arty and pursued this both at university and beyond. For us, we have always both been driven by our love of arts and creativity over anything else.
Who have you been inspired and influenced by?
As cheesy as it may sound, each other. We inspire each other every day with new ideas and work really well as a collaborative pair. A lot of our ideas stem from discussions and bouncing ideas off one another. We wouldn’t have been able to push our venture as far without one another. There are so many others who influence us too from further afield – but it’s always wonderful to feel inspired on a daily basis. Other than that, the biggest source of inspiration can be found in the everyday world, in the beauty of nature, everything from colours through to textures. For both of our jobs, we are always inspired by the things we see around us. It’s so important to see new things, visit new places, to take in your surroundings and let them inspire you.
What have you found most challenging in developing your work?
The constraints of time. Working full time alongside running your own venture leaves you with limited free time. We have so many further ideas we would love to implement and work on but there really aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s a juggling act but equally very rewarding.
Have a little boast – what are you really proud of yourself for achieving? Give us some highlights.
We couldn’t be more proud of the success of Brixton Life Drawing. We attract thousands of people per week and have raised tens of thousands for charities we are both so passionate about. It’s been incredible collaborating with some huge names- and also running private classes for some of our favourite companies. However, seeing our names and photos in the national press is a real highlight. We were ranked the number 1 thing to do in London this year on Valentines Day which was surreal! Overall, we are proud of the impact our classes have had on the mental health and wellbeing of so many of our drawers. Every week we have individuals reach out letting us know that they are really struggling with depression in these strange times but that our classes have kept them going and given them a reason to get out of bed. Even hearing one person say that makes our late nights and early mornings worth it.
What would lead your manifesto vision of the future for wom+n?
A world of equality and an end to the gender stereotypes that may limit the ambition of young girls and women. More women in positions of power and influence and no gender pay gap to come with it. To be championing successful women and give young girls more role models to aspire to.
Give us one piece of wisdom for young creatives in the current climate?
Stick at it. Times are especially tough in the creative industry now but with determination and effort, you can achieve anything you want to achieve. Aim high because anything is possible. Sometimes the things we think are the most unlikely and impossible things to happen have gone ahead simply because we persevered and dared to dream!
How can creativity change the world right NOW?
Creativity is something that this pandemic cannot take away from us. It’s a source of positivity and light in these dark times. Being creative is an escape, an opportunity to immerse yourself in something wonderful regardless of who or where you are. Creativity can give people so much happiness and such a purpose which is especially important. It can help us overcome so much from anxiety through to loneliness and it should never be undervalued.
Finally, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s both a celebration of how far women have come in bridging the gap of inequality but also a reminder of the fight we have left ahead of us. As female business founders, it’s a stark reminder that we are strong, powerful and can achieve anything we want to.