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Eleanor Crow’s East End shopfront illustrations [photoessay]

Eleanor Crow’s East London shopfront illustrations capture the spirit of some of our most loved shopfronts in the Roman Road area.

Having worked as a graphic designer for years, Crow became fascinated with the shop fronts and buildings she would see everyday on her bus and cycle routes.

As much as possible, Crow paints in real-time, finding a place to perch outside the building. If there is too much traffic in the road or nowhere to sit, she will take a photograph and finish the painting at home.

Crow explains, ‘Sometimes, with photographs, it is so much harder to capture the image, so I use a slight bit of artistic license here and there, just to reflect the beauty of the colours and details that attracted me to the building in the first place.’

Crow prefers to arrive at the location early in the morning to catch the right light, before its gets busy. The tools of her trade? Windsor & Newton travel watercolours and Fabriano paper.

All of her work is done with brush strokes – Crow never uses pens or pencils. She doesn’t retouch her work, but instead finishes the lettering at her studio to avoid making mistakes.

The East End has always been an inspiration for Crow, she says ‘I find it captivation that there are so many small traders, independent businesses and people making something out of nothing in such an intense urban area.’

The detailing and lettering of old shop fronts and businesses are what appeals her to the most about these buildings in the East End. ‘They are unlike anywhere else,’ she explains.

Her favourite illustration so far? Pellicci’s in Bethnal Green. Head to her website to see why.

After a successful exhibition at the Walthamstow Village Window Gallery in October 2016 of 100 illustrations, we look forward to seeing more – maybe of our lovely shops on Roman Road. Watch this space.

Update: Crow has now published a book with more than 100 illustrations: Shopfronts of London

Billy Bunter’s Snack Bar in Mile End
Darren Bread in Stepney Green
Chemist on Vallance Road
Rinkoffs bakery on Vallance Road

If you liked this piece you may enjoy Bex Shaw’s drawings of Roman Road

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