Our next guest is Niki Groom, also known as Miss Magpie Spy, an award-winning fashion, beauty and lifestyle illustrator from the UK. Creating work that is colourful, hand-drawn, and feminine, her clients include Vogue, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Liberty.
Whether it's for ad campaigns, window displays, editorial pieces, or live events, Niki favours a mixture of watercolour paints, marker pens, ink, and fine liner. Before her venture into illustration, she was a fashion designer for 15 years, something she says helps her enormously in her career, as she has a unique understanding of colour, fabric and print.
Aside from her freelancing, Niki is part of the brilliant live-illustration LIL Collective, which brings together a selection of talented fashion illustrators who specialise in events illustration. So far, she's illustrated at venues such as Selfridges, Harrods, and even live on air for BBC Radio 1.
I met Niki in London last month to hear more about her creative journey. Our conversation threw up lots of helpful advice on freelancing, marketing, and surviving as a professional illustrator. We hear of her fascinating experience of being a fashion designer, her time living in India, and how a backpacking trip to Australia led to her first illustration commission and work with Vogue. And we dive into cultural shifts, slow fashion, and diversity in the creative industries.
Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
D'autres épisodes de "Creative Boom"
Venessa Scott on discovering her superpower & why she's finally proud to call herself an artist
1:11:58Venessa Scott is a Manchester-based prolific artist and a specialist in creative education whose reputation and artistic practice have grown significantly in recent years, leading to two commissions for Blue Peter, one of which involved her designing a Blue Peter badge. Venessa is also behind one of the UK's tallest murals, celebrating the pioneering work of Sylvia Pankhurst. She's won awards, become a Great Mancunian – which is a local project by Manchester College to celebrate people who have had a significant cultural and creative impact on the City of Manchester and its surrounding areas – and has been appointed as an official ambassador for The Pankhurst Centre. But despite all this success, Venessa has gone through unimaginable suffering and loss of late. Even for this podcast, she told us of further sadness. But as always, she is positive, and full of and warmth and determination. This strength perhaps comes from having a solid family and local community. It's perhaps why Venessa dedicates so much time to helping others, as she and her sister also run Seven Three One, a non-profit organisation that uses creativity to further the education and skills of serving prisoners, ex-offenders and disengaged young people. Here, Venessa chats about finding her voice despite the sexism or racism she has sometimes endured. About not having a seat at that mythical table and why it's important to build our own, welcoming everyone else to join us. We hear why it took Venessa a while to declare herself an artist. And we talk of her work, colour, pattern, doing what we love, having confidence, speaking up, speaking out – and why great things can happen if we let down our armour, be ourselves and embrace all the joyful wonderful things that make us unique and special. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Dave Smyth on surveillance capitalism, privacy and finding balance as a freelancer in a digital world
1:05:26Dave Smyth is a designer and developer based in the UK. Over the last few years, Dave has become increasingly interested in privacy and surveillance capitalism. He sometimes shares his thoughts on these topics via his blog – from looking at our permanent digital records and how to de-Google ourselves, to read receipts, Twitter lists and cookies. With so much happening in the tech world right now – including Facebook rebranding as Meta, the increasingly noisy conversation about privacy, and recent leaks that have shocked the world – we felt it was a timely conversation to consider how we use the Internet and social media, and why we might want to review the browsers, search engines, tools, platforms and apps that we use. We talk about digital minimalism, social media holidays, managing Twitter and removing all followers (and why that is beneficial but sometimes problematic). We talk data, tracking and advertising. We also ponder over the value we get back from sharing our lives with the world. Of course, these are themes that have possibly entered the realm of death, funerals, and pensions – we don't like to talk about them. It's often easier to ignore, hoping that the issues will go away. But the elephant in the room is that millions of us are suffering from "online fatigue" and we're increasingly worried about our mental health, weekly screentime and privacy. As such, many of us are looking for an escape from this digital world. Never mind the metaverse, if you've been thinking about how you use apps, how you email or browse the web, then Dave will definitely leave you something to think about.
Ananya Rao-Middleton on being a chronic illness activist and freelance illustrator fighting for positive change
53:39Ananya Rao-Middleton is a London-based freelance illustrator and chronic illness activist who uses her work to express herself post-brain injury and as someone living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Her work is vivid, vibrant and explorative. Eye-catching colours and powerful affirmations are a common feature, too, as Ananya describes herself as a feminist illustrator and someone who wants to support people with invisible illnesses. Here, we learn more about Ananya's journey and how she came to suffer herself. Why it's important to speak up and share her experience to help others. She highlights the importance of rest and listening to our bodies. She also talks of discrimination, a lack of understanding – and how she's trying to turn that around, making people more aware of the invisible disabilities or illnesses that people might have. It's an important topic. Ananya also talks of her childhood, about bullying and racism, how that's made her a stronger person, able to cope with the challenges of today. She is so hopeful and positive that the creative community can be the force that brings positive change. This is a positive, thoughtful chat for anyone curious to learn more about these topics or perhaps have the reassurance they are not alone. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Tim Easley on being a self-taught creative, his love of sneakers and why he wants to live forever
1:02:26Tim Easley is an award-winning illustrator, designer and photographer from London who's probably best known for his bright palette and bold lines, as well as playful characters and hand-drawn lettering. Influenced by urban kitsch, nature and neon signage, he works across many mediums, including hand-drawn skateboards, canvases, plasticine sculptures, painted basketballs and digital pieces. Tim came up to Manchester earlier this year and popped round my house. As expected, he turned up very well dressed and donning an excellent pair of sneakers. Trainers are, in fact, something of a passion project for Tim, who has Nike, Adidas, and Foot Locker amongst his many happy clients. Interestingly, he's entirely self-taught as he didn't have a formal education. We talk about this and much more, including his days living in Japan and returning to the UK to open an independent record shop in London. It's where he discovered a passion for graphic design and illustration and began moving in that direction. Tim also shares his love of technology. We get nostalgic and talk of Walkmans, CDs and computer games. Tim reveals why he wants to live forever, so he can see how the world changes – particularly how technology advances. We also talk about why he immediately had to go freelance and why social media was a saving grace and is something he still enjoys today. And we hear why next year, Tim hopes to spend more time playing and doing things he loves. A fun, joyful and light-hearted conversation with an optimistic, humble human being. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Anoosha Syed on making a difference as an illustrator and why change is good
51:23Anoosha Syed is an illustrator and character designer for animation whose clients include Google, Netflix, and Warner Brothers. Born in Pakistan, Anoosha has spent much of her life moving around the world, growing up in Switzerland, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and settling in Toronto. She studied Illustration in Switzerland and began her career in animation, starting on the preschool series 'Dot' for Sprout and Disney Jr before beginning to work extensively in children's books. Her debut picture book, Bilal Cooks Daal, won an award and led to further commissions, including the most recent Rise Up and Write It by Nandini Ahuja. And this year, she was excited to have a dream come true, publishing her debut children's book, which she wrote and illustrated. In her spare time, Anoosha co-hosts a podcast called The Art Corner, which aims to educate younger artists on the ins and outs of the art industry. She also has her own YouTube channel. As a woman of colour, Anoosha's priority in her work is always diversity; she never saw herself in the media she consumed as a child and wants to correct that with more diverse stories and characters. Here, we talk of diversity in animation, how she's thankful for being a freelance illustrator in the 2020s when she's free to create a wealth of different characters and stories, and why audiences have more power to shape the books and the films we all enjoy. She is optimistic about the future and talks of her passion for creating children's books and inspiring the next generation. We also learn of her career shift from animation to publishing and why listening to your heart and knowing when to make a change is so important. We also hear how she moved away from her identity when she was a child, as a teacher mispronounced her name – sadly, a common issue. We dip into the issue of pricing and why no one is talking about money in the world of freelance illustration. And if you're an illustrator yourself, keen to find out how to get published, Anoosha gives us an insight into that often secretive industry. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Ben Tallon on the wonderful highs and lows of creativity and why there is power in perseverance
52:34Ben Tallon is an illustrator who has two decades of experience in the field with a hand-drawn style that's lively, loud and expressive. One that has done him proud across many disciplines from print, digital and animation to set design and large-scale media. So far, his clients include The Guardian, EasyJet, World Wrestling Entertainment, Penguin and UNICEF. His debut book, Champagne and Wax Crayons, was published in 2015 to much acclaim – it offers an honest account of what it means to be creative. Since then, he's won an award, written a few more books, and started his own show, The Creative Condition Podcast, which features insightful interviews with people across the creative community. Ben grew up in Keighley, West Yorkshire, where he loved Leeds United, wrestling and video games – things that clearly inspire his art today. He has a BTEC in Graphic Design from Keighley College and a BA in Illustration from the University of Central Lancashire. Here, Ben shares his experience of being a freelance illustrator and what he's learned over the past 20 years. It's an inspiring conversation with someone who is full of passion and determination, and who has this innate ability to capture the many ups and downs of modern life – from imposter syndrome and losing ourselves in creative trends to suffering isolation working from home and overcoming those difficult days when we get stuck and can't seem to get going. This is especially insightful for any aspiring illustrator who is hoping to carve a career out of freelancing in what can often feel like a challenging industry. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Amanda Rach Lee on doodling, building an online brand and coping with millions of followers
47:24Amanda Rach Lee is an artist and digital content creator based in Toronto, Canada, who has built a successful career out of social media. It all began in 2013 at just 14 years old when she uploaded her first video to YouTube. Today, she has millions of subscribers and social media fans who enjoy her fun and quirky doodles, positive illustrations and updates on bullet journaling, as well as hand-lettering tutorials. If you've not heard of bullet journaling, it's a planning system created by Ryder Carroll which is meant to be an "evolving, adaptable practice meant to be self-curated as you determine what's best for you". This is certainly reflective of Amanda's own career path – one that she admits has been a massive learning curve, as she has had to wear so many different hats over the years and find ways to continue to grow. Luck has played a part, she admits, but it's clear that hard work has also helped. It's not all been fun and games: social media has an ugly side, too. We talk about internet trolls, dealing with negative comments and the impact on our mental health. But then we share lots of tips on coping with these things and seeing the positive in everything. And Amanda is indeed positive, as we share a few laughs on things like gaming, Animal Crossing and the absurdity of modern life. Given that being online is such a big part of our work life, I thought it would be fascinating to chat with Amanda and hear about her immense success, as well as her thoughts on changing algorithms, internet trolls and staying sane online. We also learn more about how she's carved a career out of content creation and illustration. I think this is especially helpful for anyone hoping to learn more about marketing and build their own online presence in what has become an increasingly competitive space. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Timothy Goodman on fun side projects, being in love and the importance of speaking up
52:32Timothy Goodman is an award-winning designer, illustrator, muralist and author based in New York City who also teaches at the School of Visual Arts. His beloved grandma simply calls him an artist. We've seen Timothy's art and words across everything from basketball courts and buildings to magazine covers and galleries worldwide. And his clients today include Google, Samsung, and Airbnb. He's co-created lots of notable side projects – like the famous 40 Days of Dating (which also became a book) and 12 Kinds of Kindness with Jessica Walsh. He's also behind People of Craft, a growing showcase of creatives of colour. And he's the author of the Sharpie Art Workshop. He's got a third book in the making, which he announces in this podcast. Timothy has also done a collection with Uniqlo. And he's just enjoyed his first solo exhibition in New York, too. I'd got some impression of what Timothy might be like through various interviews and projects, but I didn't expect such an open and honest chat about his life and work. Or that we'd cover the meaning of life. Timothy also talks candidly about the lessons he's learnt, of having to pay and work his way through education, and why it's so important to have side projects, ask for help, and speak up and speak out. As we're on the verge of welcoming 2022 and hoping it brings much positivity, I thought this was a timely conversation with someone that doesn't hold anything back. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Niki Groom on building a career in illustration, slow fashion and why the industry must change
1:02:42Our next guest is Niki Groom, also known as Miss Magpie Spy, an award-winning fashion, beauty and lifestyle illustrator from the UK. Creating work that is colourful, hand-drawn, and feminine, her clients include Vogue, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Liberty. Whether it's for ad campaigns, window displays, editorial pieces, or live events, Niki favours a mixture of watercolour paints, marker pens, ink, and fine liner. Before her venture into illustration, she was a fashion designer for 15 years, something she says helps her enormously in her career, as she has a unique understanding of colour, fabric and print. Aside from her freelancing, Niki is part of the brilliant live-illustration LIL Collective, which brings together a selection of talented fashion illustrators who specialise in events illustration. So far, she's illustrated at venues such as Selfridges, Harrods, and even live on air for BBC Radio 1. I met Niki in London last month to hear more about her creative journey. Our conversation threw up lots of helpful advice on freelancing, marketing, and surviving as a professional illustrator. We hear of her fascinating experience of being a fashion designer, her time living in India, and how a backpacking trip to Australia led to her first illustration commission and work with Vogue. And we dive into cultural shifts, slow fashion, and diversity in the creative industries. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.
Alex Gamsu Jenkins on delayed starts, drawing creepy monsters, and being Instagram famous
1:04:16Alex Gamsu Jenkins is an illustrator and cartoonist from south London who graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in 2015 having studied Illustration. Since then, he's worked for everyone from Adobe and Vice to The New York Times and Netflix, building quite the reputation and following for his satirical, often grotesque work. He says he tries to avoid any pretence and instead wallows in humour, whilst touching on the absurd and surreal. With nearly 600,000 followers on Instagram, Alex enjoys sharing little comic strips and illustrations that are joyfully dark, creepy and unexpected. With this in mind, it was with some anticipation that I met Alex in London earlier this year. There was nothing to fear though. We talk about Alex's journey so far and how he had a bit of a delayed start in the creative industries. How he's carved a career out of dark and humorous illustrations, comics, and more recently, animations. Interestingly, Alex admits he hopes to move away from the genre one day. We can't help but discuss the pandemic and how it's impacted him and how he realised he'd been running for a long time since graduating six years ago. It's an episode full of the highs and lows of freelancing, finding our creative voices, learning when we can pick and choose clients and projects. We also spend some time talking about TV shows, movies and culture from our childhoods – discovering we're both equally as forgetful as each other. One thing that I really found with Alex is his curiosity, kindness, and interest in other people. Most refreshingly, we discover Alex's curiosity, kindness, and interest in other people. A must-listen for those keen to build a successful career in illustration. Season Three of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Capture One.