Meet the artist whose on a mission to draw every pub in London

Started in lockdown 2020, Lydia Wood has taken on a very ambitious mission to draw all pubs in London.

A couple months ago, Lydia kindly produced a video explaining the services we offer at The Drinks Trust. She did an amazing job, highlighting the issues that the industry is currently facing, visit here to see

We wanted to learn more about Lydia's artwork and learn about the inspiration behind her work. Read the article below to find out more about Lydia's art.

Thanks for taking part in the interview. For those who may not know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am an artist living in South east London. I was born in West London and grew up partly in Yorkshire; as half my family is from there. I came down to south east London for art school, where I studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and I never left! I have a studio I work from in Woolwich where I draw pubs for a living and for the past three years I have been on a mission to draw every single pub in London.

Can you go into a little detail about the style of art you produce?

My drawings are detailed and tend to single out the pubs away from their architectural surroundings. I only use pencil, so as the artworks are monochrome, I think this highlights the textures and details of the buildings and creates a timeless quality to the work.

As I’m drawing every Pub in London, it might have been easier to go with a simpler drawing style or outline, but as each drawing takes hours to produce it highlights the importance I want to give to each and every pub. This means every type of boozer, however architecturally interesting or not, has a dedicated and detailed artwork made of it.

Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your work?

Generally, I have always been interested in art that has parameters and ambition. I have previously made conceptual performance pieces which were durational or required a script I had written.

Only recently have I linked this interest with the pub project. Whilst on the surface I create detailed pencil drawings of the outside of pubs; the work for me is more about the project as a whole. The conversations about pubs in general and social commentary it prompts, alongside the physical demand of the actual drawing and the longevity of the project as a whole. 

When did you start sharing your art online and what inspired you to do this?

I started sharing my art online during the first lockdown of 2020. I lost my business which was running after school art clubs around primary schools in London. So, while I tried to navigate this shock (like a lot of other business owners at that time), I turned to drawing for escapism and an alternative way to generate some income.

Pubs were the forefront of a lot of conversations at that time, both in the media, but also amongst my friends who I missed socializing with. 

The reaction online to my pub drawings was overwhelming and it grew every year; until eventually it meant I could concentrate on drawing full time. It is key way to share updates on the project, sell my work and reach a wider audience of pub lovers all around the world.

What are some of the most exciting parts about being an artist, and the most challenging?

Some of the most exciting things I’ve found is meeting other artists, both in person and online. Sharing, collaborating and admiring their work. It makes you feel a part of a community and it is one I hope I give as much as I take from.

Sometimes I find it hard not to go back and redraw pubs. Some of the drawings I completed back in 2020, I would love to draw those pubs again. As my style has evolved and my technique has transformed by practicing everyday, it’s hard not to be a perfectionist and change old drawings. But I know if I went back and re did those works I would never complete the project. I have learnt to love the difference in the artworks. The drawings not only document pubs during my lifetime, but also how the project has progressed over time.

How do you choose which pubs to draw?

Often, I am directed by followers or clients who commission me to draw pubs. This keeps it exciting for me as I am constantly being suggested new places I’ve never heard of or been to. It’s also a great way to make sure I am unbiased across the project. Although I did start with my favourites in the early stages – I have now discovered new favourites because of suggestions from strangers online!

What’s your favourite part about drawing pubs in London?

Drawing pubs has opened up a lot of London for me. I know the South East London pubs very well, so of course it felt like a natural place to start this project and I have built up a lovely following here. But as the project has grown over the last couple of years, I have been shown the plethora of beautiful and unique boozers all across the city.

I’ve discovered diverse architecture, amazing locations, hidden gems – and some pubs I might never have travelled for if it wasn’t for this project.

I have a new understanding of the character of London pubs and what makes them different to pubs elsewhere in the country. Not just their unique history but what they mean to Londoners and visitors today.

What have you learnt about hospitality and drink staff from conducting your drawings?

I have met some really incredible people in the short time I’ve been working on the pub project, from my local landlord to bar managers and pub chain owners. I have seen how passionate they are about their venues and the people who visit them and I love seeing people within the industry have such creative ideas on how to make pubs work today.

I am also hugely appreciative of any kind staff / pub owners who have put my art up in their pubs, shared my work online, ordered prints and put up my pub calendars throughout the years. It means a lot!

What has been your favourite piece to draw?

I have a lot of favourites for different reasons. But one drawing day that will stick in my mind is when I went to sketch the King Charles I on Northdown St. Throughout the three or four hours I was sitting outside sketching I had nearly the whole pub of inquisitive locals come out one by one to check my progress, prints were ordered before I’d even finished sketching and I was brought out a few drinks too! They now even have a print of that drawing up in the pub.

To check out Lydia's work, simply click here

Instagram & TikTok: @lydiawooddrawings