Drawn To Life 2019 Ambassadors

In 2019 The Big Draw Festival theme 'Drawn to Life' focuses on the vital role of creativity for health and wellbeing. As 'social prescribing' gains greater recognition as an effective tool for living a healthier and happier life; creating opportunities for accessible, fun, creative events has become more important than ever. 

We are absolutely thrilled to have some wonderful new Ambassadors join us for this year's Festival - take a look at who they are!

Liz Atkin



“I’m so delighted to be a announced as a Big Draw Ambassador! This year’s theme, Drawn to Life, invites us to explore how creativity can help us transform our lived experiences, to express how we feel and who we are. Being creative can positively impact our wellbeing - it can be mindful, purposeful, energising, endlessly imaginative and fun! It is intrinsically and universally valuable. What an exciting year this will be for The Big Draw. Thank you for inviting me!”

Liz Atkin is an internationally acclaimed visual artist based in London. She has Compulsive Skin Picking, a complex physical and mental disorder, but reimagines the body-focused repetitive behaviour of skin picking and anxiety into drawings, photographs, and performances. Liz is a mental health advocate and speaker, raising awareness for the disorder around the world, and has exhibited and taught in the UK, Europe, Australia, USA, Singapore and Japan. She’s widely known for her free #CompulsiveCharcoal newspaper drawings, given away more than 17,000 free drawings to commuters on public transport in London, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Cologne and more. To recognize this work, she received the Unstoppable Spirit Award for Outspoken Advocacy at the TLC Global Conference for Skin Picking and Hair Pulling Disorders in San Francisco in 2018, and was a finalist in the Janey Antoniou Award with Rethink Mental Illness UK in 2018. 

Her work has featured on BBC News, Huffington Post, Mashable, Channel News Asia, amongst others. She has given talks TEDx, Wellcome Collection, Royal Society of Public Health, TLC Global Conference for Skin Picking and Hair Pulling Disorders (Dallas 2016 / San Francisco 2018), Body Dysmorphia Foundation Conference UK 2017, OCD Action Conference UK 2018. She is a Bethlem Gallery artist.

Liz teaches visual art, set design and drama in therapeutic settings, schools, galleries, prisons, hospitals and arts venues around the world. She works with all ages from early years to adults. She is a Lead Artist on Paul Hamlyn Foundation funded Teacher Development Fund 2018-20 with 10 primary schools in Brixton, and is Artist in Residence delivering Messy Play for Early Years with the Acorn Project, a two year initiative to support the wellbeing and creativity of toddlers and their families, funded by Stratford Circus and BBC Children in Need.


Want to learn more about Liz Atkin's work? Check out her website here, or read our interview with Liz here. 

Gary Andrews



“I am honoured and excited to be asked to be an Ambassador for this excellent charity. Obviously, given my circumstances, I am a total believer in the healing powers of art so it was a total ‘no-brainer’ that I would agree to be a part of this.”

Born in 1961, Gary graduated from Exeter College of Art & Design in 1983 at which point he fell into a career in animation. Over the years he worked on many commercials and pop promos, had a spell at Disney, animated several Beatrix Potter characters as well as Toad from The Wind in the Willows. In 2007 he started working on Fireman Sam and directed the show from 2010 to 2018. He is also a prolific illustrator and can often be seen on the pages of Private Eye, where he has been illustrating the ‘Sylvie Krin’ stories for over 30 years.

He married his wife Joy in 2004 and they have 2 children. Joy died in October 2017 as a result of Sepsis aged just 41. Since her death, his ‘Doodleaday’ diary has gone viral, leading to several radio, podcast and TV appearances where he is passionate to talk about 'positive grieving’.


Want to learn more about Gary Andrews' work? Check out his website here, or read our interview with Gary here.

Ilan Galkoff



"It is so exciting for me to have been asked to be an ambassador for The Big Draw. I love how The Big Draw encourages creativity in so many ways and I am delighted to be a part of it. Creativity is such a big part of my life and I am so glad to have been given this great opportunity. I hope I can inspire others as much as others have inspired me."

Ilan Galkoff (otherwise known as Ilan Asher) is 15 years old and currently studying for his GCSE’s. For as long as he can remember, Ilan has always had a love for creative things - from the performing arts, to illustration and more.

From the age of 8, Ilan has been performing in the West End, appearing in many shows such as Les Miserables and Matilda, and most recently playing the title role of Adrian Mole in ‘The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4. As well as this, Ilan has appeared on TV - look out for Good Omens, which comes onto Amazon Prime on 31 May 2019!

After always having enjoyed the versatility and flexibility of Lego Ilan became quickly fascinated in Minecraft, which went on to spark his love for creativity within the digital world. However, it was not until his 11th birthday, upon receiving an iPad mini and discovering the Procreate app, that Ilan could fully explore the digital medium. Since then, Ilan has continued to develop his skills and love for illustration and digital drawing, primarily using the adobe creative suite, Procreate and affinity designer.

Alongside his studies, Ilan sells digitally designed greeting cards online, usually picking up on current trends, films or news. He intends to study graphic design next year at college, and continue developing his skills in the digital medium.


Want to learn more about Ilan Galkoff's work? Check out his creative Instagram account here.