Hi Nicole, how would you describe your work to someone discovering it for the first time?
Lino print illustrations – fresh and modern but with a nostalgic aesthetic that capture the imagination.
How did you get started as a printmaker and illustrator?
I studied Illustration at Arts University Bournemouth, specialising in handrawn – pen, ink, pencils and paint on paper – back in a time when Adobe Illustrator and Vector were all the rage, so it was terribly unfashionable. Illustration work. After graduating it was very much a side hustle (the odd commission, murals, and live event art at festivals), whilst I raised children. I found printmaking in 2019 and immediately loved it and how it perfectly fitted my style of drawing. A completely analogue way of working that creates an original, affordable artwork.
What did you do before setting up Prints by the Bay?
I spent my twenties raising my daughters and took on any work going to pay the bills. Cleaning, waitressing, and then later working in marketing for various companies, all while creating art on the side when I could.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
I draw on elements of my own life, much of my work has a female protagonist as the central character or focal point, and recognisable Dorset/English landscapes, mixed with the magical and imaginary. That’s why a lot of my work has recognisable themes, with a twist.
How would you describe your style?
Narrative based folkloric inspired lino print illustrations.
Are there themes that run through your work?
Womanhood or the female experience, intertwined with human connection to nature. Earth’s magic – the sea and the forests, the moon.
Describe a typical working day…
School run with the dog, then onward to my studio. In summer, I create all my work in the studio, but in winter I split my time between there and my home study. It’s best to carve my lino blocks in the warm house, so I just go to the studio to get inky and print.
What are the values behind your business?
Original affordable art, accessible for everyone. Earth friendly; I use non-toxic inks, biodegradable lino, handmade or recycled papers and cardboard packaging.
What sort of space do you work in?
I have a small but perfectly formed garden studio that fits all my equipment, and just enough space for me and my golden retriever pup, Twiggy!
Tell us about your location…
I’m based in the Dorset seaside town of Bridport. It’s quirky, with a lot of indie shops, a vibrant bi-weekly street market and lots of eccentric characters! It’s a real gem and we are lucky to call it home.
How valuable is the online community to your work?
Invaluable! I’m able to do what I do for a living thanks to a wonderfully supportive online audience. I love social media – my main account is Instagram, but I also sporadically post on tik- tok too, although I feel it’s more my teenage daughter’s audience! She keeps me in the loop of current trends – and then I choose to ignore them.
Working as an independent maker – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?
I still haven’t quite got used to the ebbs and flows and pace of work as the seasons change. It’s a work in progress! But it’s an absolute joy, and dream come true, to be my own boss and be doing something I love and passionately believe in. I pinch myself everyday.
How do you approach marketing and PR?
It’s all tied in with my social presence. I’m very much organic about it – there are not very many ‘salesy’ posts, but more making of reels and behind the scenes content. I probably could generate a lot more sales if I really focussed on PR and marketing my brand, but for now I am really enjoying just letting my work be out there, and if it attracts people, then they’re my people and it’s meant to be.
What have been your business highlights so far?
My biggest highlight is being asked to illustrate a children’s picture book! I’m currently working on it this year, it’s not been officially announced yet so I can’t say more, but it’s a beautiful project and publisher, and I’m over the moon that they chose me.
Where can people find your work?
I have my own website and shop – that’s the main place that I sell and where all my work is available. I also sell on Not on the High Street, Etsy, and have about 20 or so independent stockists both here in the UK and abroad that sell a selection of my prints and cards.
Do you have any creative pastimes?
When I was still working in marketing back in 2019, lino printing was my creative hobby! Now that I do it for a living I feel fulfilled, and so my downtime is spent reading, walking and enjoying time with the family.
Any good advice for makers who are just starting out?
Keep at it! My first attempt at lino printing was terrible. I loved the process though, and gradually have built up to where I am now.
What does the next year hold for you?
I have so much on this year! I am working on the picture book in the background as well as making new work for my shop, attending a variety of markets and festivals throughout the year, and teaching workshops. I’ve also got a couple of exciting collaborations in the pipeline too.
Describe your work in three words: feminine, nostalgic and earthy.
What are your creating rituals? Coffee, classical music on the radio, mood boards and messy sketches that slowly get refined!
Tea or coffee? Both! I gave up alcohol four years ago, so caffeine is my thing.
Mountains or sea? Sea. But I really love all natural landforms and scapes. Both feature highly in my work.
Night owl or early bird? Definitely an early bird! By late afternoon I’m done.
I wish someone had told me… That it was all going to fall into place.