Meet the Visa Artist-in-Residence for the Great British High Street Awards

Introducing the High Street Hero Award

As part of the Great British High Street Awards 2018, our sponsor Visa commissioned Leeds-based artist Yusef Arjomankhah – popularly known as ‘Art By Arjo’ – to capture the spirit of local high streets around the UK, through his unique drawing style.

We caught up with him for a quick chat…

Q: Hi Yusef, we’re delighted to have you as a new addition to the Great British High Street Awards this year; tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired your passion for drawing your local high street?

Yusef: Thank you! And I’m very excited to be part of this brilliant project. My passion for art comes from a love of the design of different architectural periods, and an appreciation of the buildings all around us – on our high streets and throughout the places we live and work. I also love to see how independent businesses design their shopfronts in order to grab attention, stand out and encourage visitors to stop by. And what better way to appreciate and explore these things, than to spend time drawing them?

Q: Are you a trained artist? How did you learn?

Yusef: I learned the basis of my art skills at school and since then have taught myself. I’m a qualified architect and have always loved drawing buildings. Sketching and creating art started as a hobby – a fun way to relax – but over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to turn this passion into my dream job.

Art By Arjo

Q: What’s your favourite building you’ve drawn?

Yusef: It’s hard to choose a favourite! I love so many different styles and periods of architecture. However, if I had to choose one, I would say a street scene I drew in Paris. The scene was looking down a typical Parisian street with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Just magic!

Q: What do you love most about your own high street?

Yusef: I love the variety and quality of the great local products on offer and the passion that comes from the independent merchants – this commitment and enthusiasm is something that comes across so clearly in everything they do. I used to own a café myself, so I understand the hard work and dedication that they put into their job every day.

Q: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring artists?

Yusef: I would say be confident, experiment, create a style and – most importantly – practise, practise, practise! The great thing with art is that it’s never too late to start and you can always improve.

Find out more about Yusef and his work at and look out for his amazing drawings on the Great British High Street Awards Instagram feed.

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