15 years of covering the covers for Scottish Left Review

Nadia Lucchesi is an artist, illustrator and printmaker and has delivered bright and bold covers for Scottish Left Review. After many years, she has decided to hang up her ‘easel’, so this is a good opportunity to publicly thank Nadia for her work and to speak to her about her work.

Her website https://www.nadialucchesi.co.uk/ provides examples of her work.

How long have you been designing the cover for Scottish Left Review and how did this come about?

Myself and Scottish Left Review go along way back! An art school pal put me in touch with the editorial team: a friend-of-a-friend scenario. She knew I was interested in editorial illustration and politics, so it seemed like the perfect match. And it was! I started contributing illustrations as far back as 2004. My first commissioned cover was Issue 33, Mar/Apr 2006.

You’ve designed the covers for free and done so on top of having a full-time job. What’s been your motivation to do so?

I make art all the time, whether or not it is ‘for’ anything, but getting regular briefs from Scottish Left Review has given me a focus I may not have had otherwise and helped me to push my work further. The fact that I am illustrating issues that really matter to me is a factor too, of course. Besides, what artist can resist the idea that their work is popping through letterboxes and sitting on coffee tables all over the country?!

For each cover, you get a brief from the editor of what the editorial committee of Scottish Left Review has decided will lead the forthcoming issue. How do you interpret that and what ideas do you draw upon to come up with the visual image for the cover for what you’re trying to convey?

To start with, I think about what the cover headline might be and how I can create a punchy visual to sit alongside it. Regular readers might have noticed I’m fond of a visual metaphor, and puns. I’ll write down key words, then words I associate with those words … then at some point the note-taking turns into doodles, sketches and graphic ideas. Most of my finished illustrations are digital, but they always begin life as a drawing. Front Cover Issue 98

Are there are covers you think work particularly well and why?

I’m a very harsh critic of my own work. But an early cover I was really chuffed with and still like is ‘Heroes and Villains’ (Issue 54, 2009). It is a very straightforward but playful interpretation of the theme. It taught me that you don’t necessarily need to be too literal. I still love ‘Opportunity Knocks’ (Issue 86, 2015) – I like the idea of the ‘Elect-us-aurus!’ – and ‘The Union Issue’ (Issue 98, 2017) – both exemplify what I always strive for, namely, a strong idea, executed with simplicity and some élan – I hope! My most recent favourite might be ‘Facing the Future’ (Issue 121, 2021) with the clueless fortune teller. See what I mean about a visual metaphor?

Where does your interest in and training in art come from?

I’ve always drawn, all the time, and I’ve always been fascinated by how images and words work together, perhaps because I’m a bit of a bookworm too. I specialised in Illustration and Printmaking at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, where I worked in a range of media – this is where I started incorporating drawings, collage and printed patterns with digital illustration. I also fell in love with lino print, a form of relief printing. I am now a member of Glasgow Print Studio where I continue my practice, and where I had a featured artist exhibition in 2019.

Could you tell us something about your own politics and what you may have been involved?

I’m a product of my upbringing, I suppose, and my politics have always been on the Left. I support Amnesty International – especially now, when human rights are really under attack in so many places – and Shelter: Homelessness is such a terrible scourge, and it’s shaming that it exists at all in this country. Though I’ve never belonged to a political party I am pro-independence – I can’t see how else we’re going to protect our NHS and many hard-won rights, but my most recent march was at the COP26 protest. I believe the Climate Crisis will come to dwarf everything else on the agenda, and soon. It’s fitting, if a little sad, that this is reflected in my last Scottish Left Review cover.