We Live Here | Fortress Collection

We Live Here‘s art captures and celebrates scenes of urban living – the architecture and landmarks of the places we call home. His latest artwork, commissioned by the Royal Armouries, depicts the museum in a unique graphic style. We caught up with him to ask him a few questions about his creative process. 

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name’s Jonathan Wilkinson and I have been working under the name of We Live Here for over ten years now. I originally set up as an online store and gallery selling my own art prints and gifts depicting industrial and urban landscapes of my hometown, Sheffield. I rather quickly developed a following and my work now covers more than just South Yorkshire as I have collaborated with The Hepworth, BALTIC Centre for Art and The National Theatre. I was born in Leeds and have strong connections with the city as all my family live here. I studied painting and printmaking at Sheffield Hallam University and have worked as an artist, illustrator and graphic designer for the past 16 years.

Can you tell me how the piece came about?

The collaboration with the Royal Armouries began when I was approached by the retail department earlier in the year. They were a fan of my work and thought that my style would be a great fit with the Royal Armouries building and the surrounding environment. I have always been familiar with the Royal Armouries. I’ve visited a number of times over the years and was very keen to work on the project.

Can you tell me a bit about the project and process?

In terms of how I start a piece of work then and in the case of the Royal Armouries project, I visited the building and had a good wander around and shot a number of photographs of the buildings exterior and neighbouring landscape to try to build up a feel for the place. It’s a striking building that has weathered well over the years and has gradually had the skyline build-up around it. I was keen to capture all of that and make the piece recognisable and something that would also be a desirable piece to hang on someone’s wall. I usually make a small thumbnail sketch to plan a viewpoint and composition and then build a much tighter set of digital drawings which act as the guide and scaffolding for the entire image. The building is rather heavy and is made up of a lot of greys. I had to be true to that but inject the piece with colours that would compliment the original architecture.

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Early graphic sketch, capturing elements of the museum’s construction.

How long did it take you?

From beginning to end, the design took around a month to complete. The main shape and composition came early on with the colour and detail being the more time-consuming part of the process.

Did you enjoy working on this piece? Have you drawn any other buildings?

I have really enjoyed working on this design and I’m very pleased with the results. I’m from Leeds originally and always find it inspiring to work on Leeds themed art. Previous works taking inspiration from Leeds landmarks and buildings include the Hyde Park Picture House, Temple Works and the Oakwood Fish Bar.

What feedback have you had on the finished piece?

So far all feedback that I’ve had has been positive which is always a bonus and I’m hopeful that the people of Leeds like it too.

View more of the artwork inspired by the Royal Armouries Museum and collection in our shop.