Inside the Mind of Alice Pattullo

Alice Pattullo is an illustrator living in East London. Her work is inspired by folk lore, tradition and superstitions. Her product range explores traditional and contemporary blessings and includes stationary, crockery and greetings cards. Find her at

Where you do you find inspiration?

Research is integral to my work. I like funny stories or narratives. I collect a lot of old books – about barges or, I don’t know, about cactuses. Anything. I have a lot of dictionaries and encyclopaedias – traditions, folklore and superstitions - which sound really dry but actually really fascinate me...

Anything that might set me off on a path to follow. If things amuse me or there’s some visual thing to grab, I’ll play with it.

What’s your process like?

Well I work very quickly and I guess I’m not that precious. I move on fast. I do the next thing. I don’t like returning to things. If I wanted to make it better, I’d rather just start again.

I also do everything in black and white. I find monochrome, with brush and ink, the most immediate way of working. It’s just the drawing, there’s nothing to complicate it. I love colourful things but and lots of my prints are very colourful yet if you looked in my sketchbook I’ve got like, 100 monochrome sketchbooks.

How do you get in the zone to be creative?

I might go to an exhibition - museums play quite a large role. I like things, I guess. I like going to fleamarkets and things and looking at objects and the history and weird folk tales that go behind this objects.

Or just coming outside and getting some air and sunlight. Sometimes just a walk around the block can do it.

Tell as about an object that means something special to you?

Ah, there are so many! I’ve got a box of all the really special stuff. They’re all such menial things, I don’t know why I like them!

One is this amazing suitcase - from a fleamarket - full of decades and decades of love letters between two people. Some of them are really boring some of them are a bit more spicy. They’re old – maybe wartime. It’s really sad that they were just given away. But it’s also really interesting to have a sort of, compact history of a relationship.

When have you followed your instincts?

I guess moving to London. I moved from Brighton – and I decided to move and not get a proper job. I guess that was a leap of faith that I could do what I wanted [illustration], and make it work. That was a gut instinct – I knew what I had to do.

Whose mind would you like to get inside?

I love science and astronomy. I just recently read a book about a neurosurgeon. It was a great (and scary) insight. It made me think – I wish I – I wish I knew more about that side of things.

What’s a big thing you’ve learnt about yourself?

I’ve realised I’m actually quite driven and motivated to do things. I kind of don’t really let go. If I want to succeed I’ll do my very best to get there.

And it’s been nice to get to the point where I realise that I can actually do things. I feel like a very self-deprecating person generally. But with hindsight, you can be like “I’m really proud of that thing that I did.” At the time you never recognise that.