Award-winning illustrator Lee John Phillips isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. Having graduated with a BA in General Illustration, an MA in Visual Communication, and a PGCE in Secondary Art & Design, Phillips has been teaching illustration throughout this entire past decade.
“I was frustrated by the demise in work ethic I’ve noticed in recent years,” he shared with The Crafty Gentleman. “People (and pupils) have less patience. They want things instantly. Very few people realize the time that needs to be spent on creating something of value. I thought, foolishly, ‘I’ll show them!‘.”
It was at that moment that an incredible drawing challenge was born: to document every single item in his late grandfather’s shed, as a way of showing the virtue of hard work and dedication. “I made the decision to catalogue everything, even multiples, and have not regretted it since,” Phillips recalls.
According to Phillips, using his late grandfather’s shed as a resource for inspiration was a way for him to pursue the act of illustrating, aiming first to draw every single day.
“I began drawing items from the shed in 2014 and realized that the items in jars and tins were actually more interesting than the tools themselves,” he recounted.
“It also became clear that the format of my sketchbook was unsustainable for the project—I wanted to draw more than just one ‘thing’ per day. That initial sketchbook developed into pages of random objects and I began to enjoy the pattern and repetition that emerged.”
His project soon gained viral attention, not only for its sheer volume (to date, Phillips has illustrated well over 6,500 items and estimates the total over 100,000) but for the story behind it—a story of memory and loss but also of celebration and dedication.
“My job as an art teacher truly helped sculpt the project into what it is today,” he admits.
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