Illustration has always followed Nick around. Even whilst studying graphic design at Central St Martins art school, illustration in its various forms kept creeping into his work. Over the years it has touched linocuts, torn paper montages, painting and printmaking, but it was the work of artists David Band, James Marsh and Charlie Harper that really inspired Nick and led him to the approach he enjoys today – a digital style that combines graphic shapes with textural elements and beautiful colours.
Mind you, it’s taken some time for Nick to get a portfolio together. It was only when the COVID pandemic hit that Nick found himself with free time on his hands. It also coincided with a difficult period in his life; battling his own mental health struggles, he began to explore new ways of self-healing. A move out of London to the Hertfordshire countryside brought a new focus, but rediscovering the joys of drawing and photography helped rekindle his creative confidence. As he says: “I’ve always loved being outside. As a child I was fascinated by birds. My Auntie Win, a self-taught artist who lived in Cambridge, had a tiny back garden that seemed to attract the city’s birdlife on a daily basis. I would sit with her for hours drawing and painting what we saw. Undoubtedly, she gave me a love for art and for our feathered friends”.
Nick’s illustrations are fresh and eye-catching. Each bird takes centre stage, framed by stylistic foliage or landscape elements, making it the sole focus amongst the rush of everyday life we live in. It’s a composition theme Nick loves, but what makes his birds even more endearing is the human names he gives them, adding personality and a touch of humour to each.
“My birds are inspired by the countryside and from trips to the coast. I scribble, make notes and photograph things when I’m out, then draw up and research ideas back in my studio. Often, finding the right setting can be more difficult than the actual bird. My finished compositions are composed on paper and then transferred onto my iMac. The compositions then get ‘built’ using shapes, graphic details, textures and colours. I work from a cabin (christened ‘The Nest’) at the end of my garden. It’s where I feel most at home, in my own world with my music on, watching the Jackdaws strut their stuff along the top of the garden fence! I hope my birds put a little bit of joy in your life.”