Hartwig Braun and Isaac Lilos, partners in life, business and art, are amongst Greenwich Market’s most colourful and creative traders. Hartwig, originally from Germany, is the artist behind the exuberant illustrated maps and cityscapes sold in their shop – Arty Globe by Hartwig Braun. Isaac, from Israel, is the marketing and business brains of the operation.
Everything, it seems, began with Hartwig’s illustrations. A lifetime’s doodling, sketching and illustrating, plus an architect’s training, produced a style that’s ‘engaging, colourful, joyful and eye catching.’ The result? Intricate ‘fish-eye lens’ cityscapes and illustrated maps that are the signature of the Arty Globe brand.
The balance of detail and exuberance is everything. Hartwig assembles as much material as possible – aerial shots, street-level image, Google Earth – to stitch together imaginative renditions of cityscapes that bristle with landmarks, iconic local venues, and other reference points.
Hartwig and Isaac began trading at the Market in August 2008, with a stall selling only six creations. ‘We had a vision but didn’t yet know who our target market was’, recalls Isaac. Yet within six months they’d added a swathe of other designs and expanded the stall to cover three pitches (their ‘empire’).
Living in Grantham, those early days were frenetic. Isaac and Hartwig found a place to stay in Lewisham and would travel to market on Thursdays with suitcases of prints, puzzles and other products, returning on Monday after three busy days’ trading. So driven was Isaac to arrange Hartwig’s work so as to do it justice, he’d spend three hours setting up the stall and another three breaking it down. ‘We’d start at six in the morning. It was mad!’
In April 2009 they graduated to a pop-up shop in the Market. ‘It was such bliss!’ remembers Isaac. ‘I didn’t have to pack it all up, and I could display the canvases properly!’ He spent an incredible 287 consecutive days working in that pop-up, getting Arty Globe’s identity exactly right. Just over a year later, the pair opened the door on the permanent shop they still occupy.
Isaac has long believed Greenwich Market’s artists and creators have fascinating stories to tell, and he’s delighted that the public are getting more chance to ‘meet the makers’. Customers interested in Hartwig’s creative processes are even occasionally invited to Arty Globe’s downstairs studio to see the work at various stages of composition.
A strong local ethos underpins everything Arty Globe does. The boys make everything they can in house, in Greenwich. The studio underneath the shop contains all the printing, mounting, framing, cutting and other machinery they need to be largely self-sufficient. What they can’t make themselves – like the jigsaw puzzles and bags – they have made in the UK.
Trading at Greenwich Market, with its unceasing flow of visitors from around the world, keeps the couple enthused and engaged. They’re also inspired by the Greenwich Market ‘family’. ‘It’s a lovely community,’ enthuses Isaac – ‘a melting pot. You get people from all walks of life, from different cultures, of different mindsets, practising all kinds of crafts and arts. We inspire each other. We look out for each other.’
Arty Globe calls on this family creatively, collaborating with other Greenwich Market makers to create many of the unique fabrics, papers and other things they sell. This creative spirit, this passion for Greenwich and its people, has made them some of the market’s most distinctive and beloved traders.
By Hugh McNaughtan