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Be inspired every day with Living North
York Artist Ric Liptrot
March 2024
Reading time 5 Minutes

Living North meet illustrator Ric Liptrot

He's inspired by York's independent shops, pubs and cafés.

Since graduating with a degree in illustration from UCLAN in 2006, Ric has been working as a freelance illustrator and he moved to York in 2010, where he’s found inspiration in the city’s architecture. ‘I fell in love with buildings and architecture which started from looking up and noticing parts of buildings I hadn’t noticed before – the kind of things people might not notice on their way to work with their busy lives,’ he says. ‘I really started to take pleasure in those parts of buildings and that inspired me to sit outside and sketch them, which is something I still love to do. I have a fold-out backpack chair and I really get a lot out of that – it’s so relaxing to sit there with a pencil and a sketchbook out of the way of folk passing by. You get a bit of engagement with the public too, which is quite nice sometimes.’

Ric says York is the perfect place for drawing buildings ‘because of its history and unique architecture’. He cycles around the city and loves that there ‘are no straight lines in York’. He’s recently had a specific focus on shopfronts. ‘My parents owned a newsagents when I was young and I’ve always had a love for buying locally and visiting independent shops, pubs and cafés,’ he explains. ‘With all the pressure on finances recently I’ve been trying to celebrate those places more and more. I love the details in the windows and noticing the colours and shapes but I also love the community spirit that’s behind those shops, as well as how important they are to the local area.’

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When he’s not out and about, you’ll find Ric within his shared studio on Grape Lane. He creates his artwork using a variety of techniques and materials. ‘I want to really emphasise parts of the buildings I love and that I want to stand out so I use collage and acrylic paints and I like using stencils and paint rollers,’ he says. ‘I like that combination of drawing elements, stencils and collage to make something a bit different. It’s very hands on with lots of different textures. I take photographs of the buildings and then I make photocopies of them and paint onto the photocopies to create a texture. The colours and textures of the buildings inspire me to draw them. For example, there’s a café called Partisan which has these gorgeous turquoise tiles on the front – a lot of the time it can be colour that inspires me. With my stencils I do a lot of tile and brickwork. So places like The Blue Bell pub with its lovely red-tiled front are perfect for that technique. When I’m on my bike I notice places that I’d love to draw – it could be the colour or a certain detail in the window. Bluebird Bakery on the Shambles has a beautifully-lit window with tantalising breads and pastries and it just looks lovely against the bare brick wall. It’s those little details.’

On his journeys around the city, Ric has discovered plenty of hidden gems – so he’s never lacking inspiration – and we ask for a few places we should visit next time we’re in the city. ‘The Theatre Royal has a lovely café which has an extension with gorgeous concrete curved ceilings – I think they call them mushrooms. That’s a lovely little spot for a quiet coffee,’ he says. ‘The Crescent is a favourite of mine. It’s a music venue and it’s a great place to go that’s warm and welcoming for music, shows and comedy. I’ve got a lot of love for that place. There are also some lovely little viewpoints. The Perky Peacock has lovely views of the river. I like the old little bars like the Trembling Madness bar on Stonegate which has a lovely little window looking out to York Minster. Everyone knows the York Walls but I love to walk along them to really appreciate the city from up high.’

When he’s not holding a pencil, paintbrush or roller, you’ll find Ric with a book in his hand, and he has plenty of books by historic artists including Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and John Piper, but he’s also inspired by York’s art scene today. ‘It’s inspiring to see other artists working alongside me and it’s really nice having that community of artists,’ he tells us. ‘It’s really encouraging to talk to fellow artists about your work. The art scene is thriving, I’d say, and there are lots of pockets of artists across the city, including textiles, printmakers and painters. There are lots of groups forming and there are two or three artists’ studio spaces in York that are doing really well – we all try to support each other. We did an open studio event at Christmas with another studio just down the road – it’s all about helping each other.

Recently Ric released his first annual calendar, featuring some of his favourite pieces, including The Blue Bell, Partisan and The Crescent. It was a big hit on his Etsy shop in 2023, and has now sold out. ‘It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for ages and lots of people had mentioned it to me,’ says Ric. ‘The idea was always there in the background but I finally put it together using a printers called Fulprint in York which I’ve worked with for quite a number of years. It was difficult selecting just 12 but I think the idea is that in the future I could create more and it just shows how much love there is for these small places by the people who’ve bought the calendar. I hear so many stories about their love for the buildings I’ve drawn and it was just nice to put them all together.’

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In the meantime, Ric has plenty of commissions to keep him busy throughout 2024, including work for York Conservation Trust. ‘They have moved into a new office and I’m working with them on a talking point for the new office to show who they are and what they do,’ he tells us. ‘I’m working on a commission for The Cat’s Whiskers, the only cat café in York, at the moment too, and there’s more to get on with.

‘This York Conservation Trust work is quite exciting because it’s going to be a bit different – a bit abstract and merging in some different buildings from different periods of architecture. It’s just about taking it to the next step and trying new things but always taking my sketch book with me. I always love to hop on the train and visit new places too.’

Find more of Ric’s work at


The Crescent limited edition giclée print, £50

Banana Warehouse limited edition giclée print, £50

The Blue Bell limited edition giclée print, £50

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