My favourite souvenir shop recently re-opened on Carnaby Street and I still hadn’t managed to get my butt over there to visit it again, however when I saw that Ella Masters would be doing live portraits there this weekend I knew I absolutely had to pop in!
London, like most cities, is oversaturated with souvenir shops. The quality of these shops however isn’t all that great! This is why I love We Built This City because, as their slogan describes, they are revolutionising London souvenirs while also supporting London-based creators which is awesome.
What I love about this shop is that no two souvenirs are really alike. As everything comes from different makers there is a huge range of style everywhere you look, and believe me when I say there’s so much to look at! From mugs to tea towels to prints and more, there’s everything you’d expect to see in a normal souvenir shop, but the quality and style is just so much better. As well, because all the products in this shop are made by London artists it’s like you’re taking a legitimate piece of London home with you – rather than something tacky that’s most like been made elsewhere. Plus, it helps support London creators and that’s just really lovely.
When I’d arrived at the shop Ella was already illustrating someone so this gave me time to wander around the shop and have a proper nosey. It also gave me the time to want to spend all my money on cute things. I was very excited when it was my turn to be drawn!
Sitting down with Ella wasn’t like getting a normal portrait done. In the short space of time I was in the chair (though maybe it was actually an hour? I don’t even know), we got to know each other, talked about the trials and tribulations of living in London, and bonded over the sad reality of losing our mothers at a young age – I feel like we managed to get a lot off our chests in regards to this topic. Normally when explaining the last few years I hate having to bring up mum’s death but as Ella mentioned it first, I felt so at ease talking about it and sharing really personal experiences and feelings with her. Basically, we ended up having an art therapy session!
I am in love with this illustration, it’s the first piece of art I’ve had done of myself as an adult and there’s something special about having something like this. Furthermore, due to the wonderful conversations we had while Ella was doing this illustration of me I feel like every time I look at this now it’ll serve as a reminder of how you can meet a stranger and by weird coincidence have so much in common, and leave as a new friend. Now I feel all soppy and happy 😭