Debbie Lee is the artist behind our fabulous foodie map. Here she reveals her favourite Kent spots and her top tip for anyone starting up a new business

How did Debbie Draws Maps come about and what did you do before?

I have been a graphic designer for many years, but during the pandemic I'd stopped working and spent a lot of time exploring the local area with my family. It was such a bizarre time and I initially started drawing maps to fill the creative void I was missing from work.

I also really wanted a keepsake to illustrate the areas my family and I had been enjoying. I posted my first maps on social media and the business grew organically from there!

I now have a collection of illustrated maps and products that I sell on Etsy and throughout independent retailers, but I also still work as a graphic designer, alongside running Debbie Draws Maps.

What was your first commission of and who was it for?

My very first commission was for one of my oldest friends; a personalised map of the area she lives in. I remember being so nervous handing it over; but luckily she loved it!

Debbie LeeDebbie Lee (Image: Courtesy of Debbie Lee)

What has been your favourite place/thing to draw?

I was recently asked to create a large map mural for a school which was great fun as I was able to illustrate the usual buildings and landscape plus the kids doing lots of activities like forest school and sports day. The finished piece was huge which was really exciting to see.

How long does it take you to complete an illustration?

It varies depending on what I am illustrating, but on average it’s between two weeks and a month.

How many different maps have you now illustrated?

I currently have 18 illustrated maps available on my Etsy site (but I have worked on more as private commissions).

What might people be surprised to know about you/your illustrations?

That most of my maps feature my family! I often add faceless characters to my maps, so I like to base them on people I know. I usually sneak on an illustration of me and my future pet dog too (that I am hoping to get as soon as I can convince my other half to agree).

What has surprised you the most since starting up your business?

I have been pleasantly surprised by how many other people seem to love maps as much as I do. And I have enjoyed working with great independent businesses; including those that have commissioned me to create their maps, plus the UK based businesses that supply my products and the shops that sell them.

What does 2024 and beyond have in store for you and your illustrations?

I have finally finished my website so I am excited to launch that ( And I am looking forward to creating new maps of my favourite places and also to collaborate with some more great businesses.

Debbie LeeDebbie Lee (Image: Courtesy of Debbie Lee)

What top tip would you give to anyone starting up their own business?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. At the start I reached out to some businesses that I looked up to and received some really helpful, constructive advice.

Where is your favourite place in Kent… and why?

My family love visiting Folkestone! We enjoy parking by the Lower Leas Coastal Park, visiting the huge play area and then taking a leisurely stroll along the coast to the Harbour Arm for some food and drinks. And finally popping to the Creative Quarter for shopping.

And where is your favourite place to eat/drink in Kent?

We are very lucky to have amazing food in my home town, Sevenoaks. I love our local pubs like The Greyhound (Charcott) and the George and Dragon (Chipstead), and in town I can't resist a meze from Hattusa. Malabar at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is the best outdoor spot in spring time for some coffee and cake.