First Direct Campaign
  • Tuesday at 10am saw the end of my 24hr marathon for first direct. They had sponsored a BTartbox for Childline’s 25th aniversary. There are over 80 of these traditional British phone boxes around London, all sponsored by different people and brands, and all to be auctioned for charity.

    It’s a great idea, and they all are looking very impressive in Covent Garden. I was approached to work on the project by the lovely guys up at StoryUK, an advertising agency based in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

    I always love the surprise jobs that come out of nowhere, and this one seemed really exciting. The brief was pretty simple, as good briefs always are. 24hr Draw marathon, on a telephone box, for charity.

    The subject would be ‘What makes London, London’ and the drawings would reflect people’s answers via Facebook. I woke up on the morning of the project to heavy rain, and my heart sank. Not because of the drawing (my pens are waterproof) but because I had just done my hair the night before.


    Luckily the rain eased off, and my hair was saved. (I’m joking btw, I was much more concerned with the artwork. Sort of)

  • I was feeling a little nervous as I rocked up at the hotel in Soho for our preliminary breakfast meeting before kick-off on Monday 18th June. I always think a healthy amount of nerves is good on a project such as this. I think it shows you still care, and that you still yearn to deliver your best. This mentality, while valuable, tends to add a little strain to the start of any project. However, I believe it is nessecary in order to do a good job.

    As with the case when working with any group of pleasant people, we ended up gossiping and chatting through the meeting, and only at the end of breakfast did we really nail down the aims of the project. At this point however, it’s pretty much down to me and my pens. I can do as much background and preliminary work as possible for a project like this, but what really counts at the end is the quality of the drawing, and the level of accomplishment displayed in the finished piece.

    So, no pressure!

    Seeing the blank box in Covent Garden was gorgeous. I had already seen it at the press breakfast, where I met Childline founder Esther Rantzen, and again I was struck by the beauty of the box. I think seeing the classic design in white makes you realise what a spectacular design it was, and I couldn’t help mourning the loss of these old British classics from our streets.

    Seriously though, who the hell had the ridiculous idea of binning them, and bringing in the plastic horrors we’ve got now?

    Any knowledge of this Sir Giles Gilbert Scott box exodus, do share it on my Facebook/Lizzie Mary Cullen.

  •  Exciting times with Esther Ranzen!
  • By 10am the marathon had begun. As usual with the first line of my pen, my nerves vanished. I’m not sure why this happens. I think it’s because I know it is now down to me and my drawing, and I have never not delivered on a project. This knowledge is enough to banish nerves. Of course, during the course of the project, I would feel worry, panic, nervousness, all kicking in at different times, and all compounded by lack of sleep and far more drawing any sane person would do in one sitting. But right now, I felt calm and in control.

    During the project the team from first direct had come down from Leeds to watch the box take shape, and upload pictures to Facebook. It’s a funny feeling having the client looking over your shoulder at every line, but I needn’t have worried. There was lots of encouragement, and bringing of coffee and it was a nice feeling having a group around me as I worked. I felt looked after and encouraged and, as the box started to take shape as the hours flew by, I started to buzz.

    This buzz may be down to the unhealthy amount of caffeine which had been consumed, but my heart was still beating normally, which as most people know, is a good thing.

  • During this project, a film was being made by PAN Studio about first direct’s BT Artbox, and I was continually doing updates on camera, and being filmed as I worked. This was helpful in many ways. It provided a bit of a drawing break for me, and in a strange way, helped me understand by putting into words, how the box was going.

    I don’t usually start randomly talking about how a piece of work is going, and doing this is quite theraputic. I may start doing it in everyday life. I can start talking randomly at people on the tube about how my day is going. Or become the bus stop nutter each morning by regailing my fellow commuters on how many times I went to the toilet the day before.

    Maybe not.

    In between bouts of filming, knocking back unhealthy amounts of Red Bull and eating my weight in complex carbohydrate, I was listening to an audiobook which I had downloaded from my Audible account. I decided, in a flurry of extremely odd decision making the previous night, to listen to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. I chose this book for it’s length (37 hours) and the fact that I have always wanted to read it.

    I urge anyone embarking on a 24 hr marathon to avoid this book at all costs. Indeed it is a masterful book, full of fascinating facts and not-to-be-forgotton insights into the human soul, but it’s a little heavy. Especially in the middle of the night, when the box is half finished, and I’m listening to Chamberlein’s nephew waxing lyrical about the glory of the aryan race. I ended up having to listen to a spot of Micahel McIntyre’s ‘Life and Laughing’ to bring myself back from the brink.

    To those Michael McIntyre haters out there, I issue this statement: I do not understand you. He is adorable.

    So, it was 1 in the morning in Covent Garden market. Me and the gang consisting of Susan, Olivia and Charlie from StoryUK, Becca from first direct and Sam from PAN were drinking wine and goofing about. Soon however, I was staring at the half-finished box like something out of The Shining, spiralling into mad visions of not completing the bastard thing by 10am the next morning. I think I had my crazy eyes on, and I was feeling angry. Really angry. Lizzie Smash.

  • By 3am, I was about to start scrawling ‘All work and no play make Lizzie a dull girl’ and promptly Hulk Out, when Susan insisted I grab an hour of sleep. This changed everything.

    In fact, I only squeezed in 45 minutes, but waking up I felt refreshed. By 5am I was on my way again, and making progress. At this point I had been awake for 23 hours, and I was starting the feel it. The joy of drawing was leaving me, and even with Michael McIntyres loveable voice ringing in my ears, I could not off-set the exhaustion which was creeping into my bones like some kind of toxic mould. I was dreaming of a hot bath, and a bed. Any bed. In fact, if you had let me loose on London at that minute, I would have crawled into someone’s window and got into bed with an unsuspecting randomer and happily spooned them while I drifted into blissful unconciousness.

    Luckily, I pushed on, and by 8am we were nearing the close. I’m not going to lie, my body was throbbing. It’s interesting, most people asked me ‘Is your arm killing you?’ And my honest answer would be, ‘No’. It’s never the arm which hurts after these drawing challenges. It’s always just the whole body. My knees were swollen, and my thighs seemed to be twitching. My back was screaming in protest, and for some reason my brain was refusing to connect to my mouth.

  • When the clock struck 10am on Tuesday 19th, I felt relief like never before.

    We had done it, and the box looked fantastic. I had a pre-noon beer, which tasted glorious (Red Stripe beer to put the state of my brain in perspective) and after a few pictures and a quick interview, it was over.

    I felt a pang of sadness saying goodbye to my overnight companions. You can bond with people in many ways, but it’s the odd experiences and the challenging ones which bring people together most. I’m under no illusions, I imagine I was a nightmare to work with. All blank staring eyes, and the occasional bit of dribble coming out of my mouth, resembling a zombie more than an illustrator.

     However, we did it and it was fun. The box looks fantastic, and at the end of the (long) day it’s all for charity.

    The product of this journey of angst, alcohol, pens and persistance is up for auction along with all the phoneboxes you can see around London this summer.

    So if you want it, check out here’s the link

     Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast. Lizzie x
First Direct campaign - 'What Makes London, London'

24 hour drawing challenge for Childline's 25th Anniversary, sponsored by First Direct.

Lots of drawing, Red Bull and nervous breakdowns.
Advertising, Drawing, Illustration