Drawing Memories

Drawn to Detroit artist Leah Carroll captures history one building — and now, one wedding — at a time. Written by Giuseppa Nadrowski

Three years ago, artist Leah Carroll launched Drawn to Detroit, a collection of freehand drawings inspired by the city. A self-taught freehand illustrator and registered art therapist, Carroll unexpectedly began Drawn to Detroit during an assignment for her graduate program in Art Therapy at Wayne State University.

“In my second year of graduate school, our course work included an assignment to create 10 art pieces in our medium of choice. As an elementary art teacher at the time, I did not create much, if at all. I had always enjoyed drawing and decided to try my hand at the Grand Army of the Republic building. I sat at Beacon Park for a few hours while the spring afternoon absolutely flew by,” Carroll says. “Looking back at that drawing, I barely knew what I was doing, I just knew that I loved the process … Eight buildings and many hours at my favorite coffee shop later, I completed my assignment!” At the end of her class, Carroll and her peers displayed their work from the semester — an exhibition that would lead to her first commission, The Owen House of The Inn on Ferry Street.

From custom illustrations to original drawings of Detroit’s iconic architecture, Carroll’s work is featured on everything from beautiful prints to magnets, totes, mugs, ornaments and more. “Each drawing is created in real-time, viewing the building, and/or by a photo taken of the structure in its current state,” Carroll says. “The history and grit of Detroit architecture is what draws me in the most … For me, the most historic buildings hold the most memories. Which is what I love about what I do — preserve memories through freehand illustrations.”

Artist Leah Carroll’s architectural drawings for Drawn to Detroit are available as save-the-dates, magnets, invitation suites and more.

In 2020, as her collection of buildings grew, Carroll began offering save-the-dates that featured her original drawings. As more and more wedding-related requests began coming in — and eventually a commission for a full invitation suite with a custom color illustration of the bride’s wedding venue — Drawn to Detroit Wedding became official.

Through Drawn to Detroit Wedding, Carroll offers a full line of wedding stationery, including save-the-dates, guest books, invitations, detail cards, RSVP cards, thank you notes, and of course Carroll’s favorite, custom magnets as wedding favors. In addition, Carroll offers her couples the choice of printing their suites through the female owned-and-operated printing company, The Printed Event.

For Carroll, working with brides goes back to what she finds most fulfilling in her work. “I love being able to help different brides bring their vision to life and ultimately help celebrate a memory in the making,” she says.

For more information, visit drawntodetroit.com