Nicola is a graphic designer who helps female entrepreneurs discover and define their unique and magnetic Visual Style in the areas of Work, Home and Fashion. She takes away the ‘fear of doing it wrong’ and brings in an element of fun to creating your personal and professional style and believes it is an ongoing journey that can – and should – organically change as you do. She lives with her husband and 3 rescue dogs in a small cottage in semi-rural England.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Nicola. Can you please describe your work to our readers?
Thank you so much Carrie! I work with female entrepreneurs to help them define and develop a magnetic and memorable Visual Style in the areas of Work, Home and Fashion. I have been a graphic and web designer for 8 years and in that time came to realise that because we tend to work from home, we can no longer segregate our business style, our home interiors and our wardrobe. They all merge together when we have our office space at home and have meetings on Skype in our ‘work’ clothes! So I set out to find a way to stop focusing just on traditional ‘branding’ for women who run their own businesses, and to translate the same sense of Visual Style across their business, home and wardrobe.
The very first step to doing this is to take the Visual Style Identity Quiz which you can find on my website, and the result gives you a starting point to defining your own Visual Style. The Visual Style Identities that I created are the Soulful Bombshell, the Elegant Hippy, the Modern Icon, the Vintage Rebelle and the Carnival Artisan. Understanding which one of these identities fits your style is a really good starting point to give you the confidence and the knowledge to start defining your own unique visual style.
Carrie: When did you first realize the arts were an important part of your life?
It was well before I even started school. I loved nothing more than colouring, drawing, painting and creating things. I got a bit discouraged in high school as I had an art teacher who didn’t get my style. I remember so clearly designing a concept watch that she said would never work and no one would buy. Years later I was reading a magazine and saw an almost identical watch by Gucci! Just goes to show you should always listen to your own inner voice when it comes to art.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
I so wish I could harness the artistic process more! I am totally self-taught and mainly use my intuition when it comes from taking something from idea to product. I don’t tend to plan out ahead of time I just dive right in and see where the process takes me! I do have a set process for working with clients as I can’t expect everyone to be so relaxed about my process so when I am working with others it starts with a questionnaire to gain a real understanding of who they are. Then onto the most fun (and the most crucial part for me) is pinning on a secret Pinterest board.
This is where it gets interesting because what people like visually doesn’t always match up to what they say in the questionnaire. So it is a good way to discover what people truly love, not what they think they should love. From those pinned images, and the answers on the questionnaire, I came up with three different style stories and then we work on the favourite of those until the finished result.
Carrie: Where do you get ideas for your designs?
Everywhere! Visually from magazines and Pinterest and Instagram – although sometimes the sheer amount of inspiration that you can find online can be overwhelming and can dilute your own ideas. I do tend to get some of my best ideas when I’m walking my three dogs and then I have to imprint them on my brain so that I can remember them by the time I get home and quickly scribble them down or sketch out the concept.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
Get away from my computer! Walk the dogs (they love it when I am feeling stuck as they can get 3-4 walks a day) clean the house, go for a coffee somewhere different. Just a change of environment and thinking about something else for a while usually resolves things. I also find that when I am struggling it is best to not keep going for too long as I end up having to redo everything anyway. But it is good to get the concepts out that don’t work as well as you never know what is going to inspired the final result.
Carrie: When you process an image, how do you know when it is “finished?”
When I come back to it the next day and I still love it! But I am a terrible tinkerer and will keep changing things as my mood takes me. But with the work I am doing now it is more of an ongoing journey anyway so that works.
Carrie: How does collaboration help and/or hinder your art?
Most of the work I do is collaboration with a client so it definitely helps! When I am designing for myself I can sometimes get a bit obsessive with changing things and it becomes quite insular. But I love working with creative clients who add their own creativity to the project and end up taking it somewhere that I wouldn’t have taken it on my own.
Carrie: What do you wish you knew that you now know about your creative process?
That it is natural sometimes to think everything is rubbish and to throw it all out and start again. I used to keep going on something even if it wasn’t working because I had started it so needed to finish. Now I realise that part of the process is getting the rubbish ideas out of my head and onto paper/screen so that the good ones have room to breath and grow.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
It’s kind of cheating because it is more than one thing but my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription – I use Photoshop and Illustrator every single day and I love playing with the other apps when I get a chance.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Anyone who truly owns their inner creativity and style and isn’t afraid to be themselves. I am slightly obsessed with Iris Apfel and the Kate Spade New York brand.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
The very best way I have heard creativity explained is by Albert Einstein who said ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’ – I love that!
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