Artist Q&A: Niki Pilkington
What was your inspiration for Wild Life?
Nature and the animal kingdom are always heavily featured in my work, even when I draw girls, there’s usually some kind of animal influence in there too. When I started coming up with a concept for Wild Life, it was a natural starting point for me. Creating a neon safari was a kind of dream come true – the biggest hurdle was deciding which of the magnificent animals to include. The addition of the neon was a definite from the offset.
What inspires your art in general?
The girls I draw. I draw each one because they lure me in for some reason, whether it’s their unique characteristics, their style, the way they carry themselves, the way they dress, or what they stand for. I always want the person looking at my picture to feel the same way that I did when I discovered the girl for the first time. If I’m going to tell their story, I feel like I have a duty to tell it right…with a bit of added neon obviously!
Was being an artist your dream? Were you artistic as a child?
It was definitely my dream. My uncle is a successful artist in Iceland so I grew up seeing first hand that you could have a career doing what you loved. That sort of inspired me to pursue a career in a creative field. I can remember always having a pencil case with me wherever I went.
How and when did you begin as a professional artist?
I went through all the usual art routes in school back home in Wales, then went on to do an art foundation course, followed by achieving a 1st class BA Honors degree in Fashion Promotion & Illustration in London in 2009. I was then fortunate enough to be quickly picked up by an agency in London and the commissions started rolling in; within a few months, I was working with the likes of Ted Baker and TOPSHOP and here we are now!
What is your purpose when creating a piece of art?
My work is made to be enjoyed at face value – playful and relatable.
There’s never anything too serious or dark about my work, there’s enough of that going on around us as it is, so I like the thought of someone seeing my work and it making them smile.
Do you have any causes that you are active in helping support?
I don’t actively donate to any one charity in particular. Instead, I donate prints and artworks to different causes each year. I get approached often to do this, so I have an allotted amount assigned each year and try to send them to as many new charities as possible.
When creating your artwork, do you have a process?
Everything has to be spotless before I can even get my pencil out. I hate a mess, especially around my desk. So once that’s all in order, I get to work. I always draw the pencil element first to get all the detail in and say what I want to say. The real fun starts once I get the color out!
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing for a living?
I seriously considered a career in sports psychology at one point. I’m sure I would still have been drawing in my spare time, but I’m glad I opted for the illustration route!
What is the most interesting thing about you that most people do not know?
Hmm, maybe that I speak Welsh? I don’t sound Welsh, so it always comes as a surprise to people when they meet me. And yes, I can say that really long place name 😉
What’s your favorite music?
I know it’s a cop-out, but I really am into a bit of everything.
Does fashion influence your art?
Massively. My degree was in fashion promotion and illustration so it’s kind of how I started out. Social media has really helped me stay on trend with all of that and I have a ton of sites and magazines that I regularly check to stay up to date.
What is your favorite neighborhood and restaurant to hang out?
It has to be the East Village – I’ve lived here two and a half years now and can’t get enough of it. I think my current fave spot has to be ‘Mother of Pearl’ – the interior is fab, and the cocktails aren’t bad either 😉