Meg Abbott





I am a London-based artist specialising in minimal line drawings of friends, strangers and statues. I am a self-taught artist, looking to the reductive art of Picasso, Giacometti, Jean Cocteau and Matisse for constant inspiration, as well as the sketches of Jenny Saville and Tracey Emin. After experimenting with painting, sketching and illustration, I settled on line drawing as my medium for its clean simplicity. I continue to be amazed by how the smallest details can create personality in a face or movement in a body.


How do you find the balance between the vision you have and the mediums you are using.

Generally, there’s very little planning ahead involved. I use black brush ink and really let the pen decide where it’s going. I know when I’m going to draw, say, a side profile, but the lines appear with the most movement or charm when I just let go. Line drawing is so different to other mediums in that way. It’s very spontaneous – which is why I get through so much paper…!


What inspired your style of work?

I’ve always been drawn to clean, simple art. I love looking at the sketchbooks or plans of my favourite artists – there’s something so lovely and raw about those lines that just kind of fall out of someone with less planning. I started going to galleries and drawing sculptures using one line, and fell in love with the way it turned out – bold and clear but understated. And I love portraits in every shape and form. I have lots of paintings and postcards of strangers in my flat – which is where the name ‘Faces I Don’t Know’ came from. If you’re interested in faces, you can’t really ever be bored.




Blue Torso

Blue Torso

Where do you get inspiration from? Are there any particular artists, photographers, painters drawers you look up to their works?  

It’s great because doing this work has made me fall back in love with London. I never really saw it as a particularly inspiring city before I started looking for inspiration in it. Drawing every day just changes your way of seeing a place – I suddenly started noticing lines of buildings, people on the tube, and art everywhere. You start to see things differently when that part of your brain is really fired up. I try to go to as many exhibitions as possible, and find inspiration in everything from sculpture and painting to film and photography. I saw a Walker Evans retrospective in San Francisco a couple of months ago and was amazed by the way he saw people – he captured their personalities by being completely unselfconscious with his camera. The imperfections in his work are almost the best part.


How long does it take to create a piece? What is the process being it?

With the faces, I take inspiration from someone I’ve just seen, a friend or even a sculpture or character in a painting. The lines happen very quickly, and I know straight away when one looks right. I try not to redo them, as the moment you become aware of trying to recreate a feature or look in the eye it’s suddenly impossible to do. The lines have to be quick and confident to create the smoothness, which some days is easier than others!


When did you start drawing?

I’ve always drawn – my mum has a lot of dodgy portraits of the family hanging around her house, which she refuses to take down despite most of them looking like aliens. I always wanted to get to a stage where the proportions were perfect and every detail was realistic, but I realised that you can get an atmosphere or personality across in a piece of art without perfection. I found I could capture so much more if I just let go and stopped worrying about it looking realistic – it’s so freeing to know that, and always gives me a lot of confidence.