Interview: Josephine Dellow

Posted by: Richard Abbey
Interview: Josephine Dellow supporting image

Bring some colour to some of the city’s best-loved structures in a new book from illustrator Josephine Dellow – it’s the perfect stocking filler.

Is it just me or does Christmas shopping get harder and harder each year? If you’re struggling for gift ideas this festive season why not keep it Sheffield? And we’re not just talking adding a bottle of Hendos to someone’s stocking.

Sheffield-based artist Josephine Dellow has wowed us with her intricate ink drawings and really blew us away with her Sheffield Colouring Book, which we think is the perfect stocking filler. We spoke to the illustrator/designer/printmaker/smiler (her words, not mine!) about her work and much more.


We love A Very Sheffield Colouring Book. How did that come about?

Thank you! Two years ago, I made A Colouring Book of Houses and Shops – it was a natural progression for my work as I love to draw detailed pictures in black ink. I sell prints of my drawings at markets and online, many of them of Sheffield buildings, and people started to ask if there was a Sheffield version of the colouring book. So it is mainly here thanks to customers suggesting it at fairs – a reason why it’s always nice to chat at markets!


The detail is phenomenal. How long does it take?

A detailed illustration, like in the colouring book, can take one to two days of drawing. The process of designing the layout of the book, scanning and editing the artwork, preparing the files and finding a good printer all adds to it being a pretty enormous project!


What’s the fascination with buildings?

I like the character of buildings from the outside and the intrigue about what’s on the inside. I definitely seem to have a fascination with homes in general and I love to see people’s homes in children’s books and on film. From those inner lives behind the walls of houses I walk past to admiring the scale of a grand building that’s hundreds of years old, I like to capture that admiration on paper, especially when it’s a place that’s often passed by or taken for granted.


What’s the most beautiful building in Sheffield?

I don’t know about the most beautiful, but the Chimney House is one of my favourites. I love the character of big, industrial chimneys and red bricks.


And the ugliest?

Buildings are too personal to me to say which is the ugliest! It feels wrong, like I might hurt its feelings if it could hear, especially since it can’t defend itself!


What are you working on now?

I’ve just had a busy spell designing some new products in time for Christmas – some new Sheffield mugs, Christmas cards and a new screen print of Tower Bridge in London. I’ve only just got back to screen printing after moving house earlier in the year, so it’s been nice to get back to it and branch out with a London piece. I am currently working on some fun client projects, including illustrations for books that will be published next spring, which I’m excited about!


What’s your background?

I’ve got a big family and grew up in a brightly-coloured, vibrant house where I got to be very imaginative and creative. I’m from Barnsley and I studied Art and Design at Barnsley College, then actually went to the University of Huddersfield to study Fashion Design. I realised eventually that all I really wanted to do was draw, so I transferred later to Illustration. After graduating, I started getting freelance work with greetings card companies which led to an employed position. I went back to studying part-time, to do an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at UCLAN and then carried on working in greetings cards for a few years while I started making and selling my own artwork. My shop business and freelance work grew over time, until I eventually left my job at Christmas 2017. I’ve had an amazing year working full-time on my own thing, it makes me so happy!


Have you done any exciting collaborations?

I tend to work on my own most of the time, which I don’t mind at all. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had some lovely clients, from book publishers to people who personally commission me after seeing my work at a fair. I love to get involved with the creative community in Sheffield and social media has lead to some exciting projects for interesting people I’ve met, so I’m sure there will be possibilities in the future.


You do more than just prints.

I design other products and gift items with my illustrations – like mugs, tote bags and books. I also draw ‘house portraits’ for people and I get commissioned to draw other buildings, like favourite pubs and wedding venues. My time is split between my shop business and client illustration work, which often includes icons, food and characters for books.


You’ve done a cookbook too.

Yes, The Cantastic Cookbook is a zine that I made for my shop. It features lots of recipes made from mainly tinned ingredients and the writing reflects my love for food and the some of the thought that goes into my cooking!


Where can we buy your products?

Customers can shop online at I am also having a pop-up shop in Beeches of Walkley on 15 December.


Any exciting future plans?

I hope to illustrate more books and continue to balance my client projects with running my shop. I love that I have no idea where it will all lead, but I know that every time I create a new product or post on social media, I’m putting myself out there for opportunities.


New year’s resolutions?

I like to aim low with new years resolutions… things like ‘use the contents of the freezer more’ and ‘send birthday cards on time’ rather than big things that I might forget about after January. But I do like to sit down and reflect on all the things that have gone well, what I want to do next and how I might improve things for my business; and around new year is a great time to do that… comfy on the sofa, with a chocolate orange by my side!


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