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17th July 2020
Meet the Artists – Nic Jones
Nic Jones draws inspiration from the animal world, creating beautiful digital illustrations that evoke the tactile feel of fur and feathers through her use of painterly texture and confident mark making.
Colour palettes and the settings they suggest are another important feature of Nic’s work; warm saturated reds and green suggest active nighttime in images of owl’s foxes and badgers, muted yellows and oranges bring to mind drier climates, which combined with the space given to her subject suggest further differences. Fuller compositions feel closer as if you are peering into scrubland or searching through grass, while animals that stand in contrast with minimal background elements suggest vast open spaces; water surfaces or desert.
Nic’s keen eye for a creatures character have seen her recently finish her first book with Quarto Publishing (out September), as well as continuing her exploration of the natural world on a number of personal projects.
We spoke to Nic about the ‘dungeon’, an average day and the importance of widening your learning…
Where do you live?
I live in the beautifully cloudy North West of England.
Where is your studio located?
My studio (which is a desk & chair) is in a small corner of my living room. My home is quirky, being a refurbished boiler works, it’s over 3 floors and my ‘studio’ (living room) is on the ground floor which is under ground level. I call it the ‘dungeon’ it’s dark but cosy and even in the 30 degree heat we had recently it is always freezing, I was opening the back door to let heat in while I worked.
Can you describe your creative process?
I like quiet while I work, on occasions I will put the radio on, mostly I prefer the silence to work in. I’m not a fan of the sketching process; I love to colour, paint and always rush to the colour stage (not always the wisest idea). This is where I get the most creative, experimenting with what textures I can create and how to exaggerate the colours. I usually come up with a little narrative in my head while I work. I think up stories for the animals I’m painting, where they live, their age and I even give them a name. Giving the drawing a background helps to bring the image to life.
What does a typical working day look like?
My day starts between 6am – 7am depending when my 2-year-old wakes up. He will drink his milk and watch cartoons in bed while I get ready. If it’s a nursery day I leave with my youngest around 8am. I also have 2 teenagers; my eldest daughter will leave for school at 7am and my eldest son at 8.20am. Mornings are a bit of a rush! Once all of the tribe is out at nursery and school, I come home and commence tidy up time, pots, laundry, etc etc, it feels like an endless list. I start work around 10am. This may be illustration work or degree work as I am coming to the end of completing a teaching degree.
Lockdown however has changed the pace of life and I must admit it’s been nice to slow down. Breakfasts and more meals as a family, daily walks, board games and movies. My degree has been on hold, although I still have exciting upcoming illustration work ongoing, life has slowed dramatically and I’ve enjoyed every minute.
Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?
Smooth FM or Talk Radio and my go-easy listening.
How long have you been with the Artworks for?
I’m a newbie to the Artworks, I joined nearly one year ago. Being part of the team has opened so many opportunities for me, I am really grateful to be a part of it.
What drew you to Artworks?
Steph spotted my degree show work at D&AD. She got in touch, I went for an interview and it’s taken off from there.
What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?
My Dad would watch a lot of David Attenborough and read his books. This rubbed off on me; growing up I had every pet you could think of, even stick insects. That love of animals has stuck.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?
Uh oh, this is like that “what do you want to be when you grow up” question! I’m not sure, being Mum is a 24/7 job. I’d love to be the parent that bakes for the school fair and never forgets a non-uniform day (yes, I hold my hands up, I have forgotten the non-uniform days and done the mad rush to school with a change of clothes, oops). Lockdown has reminded me how fast kids grow, I’d be home more with them.
What was the most important lesson you learned at Art School, if you went!
Widen your learning, take on courses which are out of your comfort zone, try learning a new skill as often as you can.
What inspires you the most to create?
I think… missing it when I take time off. As creating is a job, you can lose your drive especially when you are creating for others. Taking a break can help focus that creative drive again.
Name three artists that you admire.
Aaron Blaise, James Gurney and Brian Froud
What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?
Easy one! Non-fiction children’s books.
What would your dream commission be?
A series of non-fiction children’s books.
Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?
A 5 year Siamese looking cat (he’s not Siamese though, he’s got the colours, markings and blue eyes, but he came from a moggy litter). Last August he went missing for 7 months and was found about 3 miles away from our home, we are very lucky to have him back with us unharmed.
We have a tropical fish tank, with some Plates that keep having loads of babies and what started off as 4 cherry shrimp are now over 100. It’s fun to look after, the kids join in and help clean it and do water changes.
What 5 things could you not live without?
3 are my 3 munchkins, next I’d say tea and a comfy pair of slippers.
What is your very favourite meal?
Beef Lasagne, with green olives and garlic bread.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I have spare time (which is rarely), plein air watercolour painting and I am a massive gaming geek, I like survival and city builder games. You’ll sometimes find me on my oldest sons PS4, his mates say I am cool because I can play games haha! I’m happy with that.
What is your current dream travel destination?
A 6-week family tour across Canada. I lived there for a while in my teens and I would love to take my children for an adventure tour one day.
To see Nic’s portfolio, click here.