What inspired you to become an artist, and how has your journey evolved over time?
My mum was my original inspiration, she was always drawing with us (she went to art school in the 60s)…I’m still inspired by the illustrators of my childhood (Charles Tunnicliffe and Peter Firmin), these days I look a lot at the artists of the classic British travel poster genre from the inter-war years, in particular Frank Henry Mason, Norman Wilkinson and Tom Purvis
Can you tell me about your creative process? How do you approach starting a new piece or project?
I surround myself with visual research and sketchbooks, my studio (in the middle of a project at least) has a chaotic quality to it…Initial sketch work is always monochrome which forces me to concentrate on composition. Once I am happy I scan my final sketch and use this as a base layer to add big bold flat area of colour; at this stage the artwork appears somewhat abstract…there is lots of squinting. Finally I add little details and textures. The Typography is crucial and I try to get this down very early as it informs the rest of the composition.
NB the images below are part of a set from Nicky’ recent commission by Fylde Council and Community Rail Lancashire called ‘Shifting Sands’ and were displayed for over 12 months within the grounds of Lytham Hall and are now displayed at stations across the South Fylde Line.
What themes or subjects do you find yourself drawn to in your artwork, and why?
The British landscape and nature feature heavily in my work which isn’t surprising as most of my workload is creating contemporary travel poster art. I recently completed a set of artworks for the National Piers association to celebrate the Year of the Pier and I am currently working on a project for London Zoo.
The original artworks from my Made In Chester exhibition are now on permanent display at the Art School in Chester, the very same campus where my mum studied art in the 1960s…for me this was a lovely moment and a circle completed (if only in my head).
Are there any particular artists, movements, or styles that have influenced your work?
Aside from the artists already mentioned, I love Barbara Hepworth, Peter Blake, Andrew Goldsworthy, The Pre Raphaelites (I’m a big fan of the Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight), Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville and illustrators Quentin Blake, Raymond Briggs and Eric Ravilious.