November 12, 2015

Having grown up in the vibrant city of Brighton and going on to study Illustration in Bristol, it’s no surprise Nadia Taylor is bursting with creativity. Her style is characterised by big blocks of flat colour, clean shapes and a healthy dose of inspiration from the animal kingdom. We caught up with Nadia about her route into illustration, how she discovered a love for screen printing, spending lazy weekends in London and sing-a-longs to Johnny Cash in the studio.

UO: Tell us a little about your story so far

I was born in Boston, USA and brought up in Brighton. I later moved to Bristol to do a History degree. I loved learning about history from different parts of the world and how this has been interpreted differently over the years… but I had this burning desire to do art. So after completing the course I went back and did an Illustration degree. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I felt that as this was my second degree I had to make it work! Bristol is such a creative and fun place to live but after graduating I decided to move on and explore London. I then concentrated on building a portfolio that I was proud of and establishing clients and regular work.

One of my first jobs came about when I was waitressing at a Zizzi restaurant. A manager saw my work and the next thing I knew I was being commissioned to paint huge murals for restaurants all over the country. More recent projects include a print for Ikea and a card range for the wonderful Lagom Design. At the moment I also work part-time at a design company producing packaging and surface design. The rest of the time is spent on my own work and looking after my two year old son. It’s pretty hectic, but I think I have the perfect balance.

UO: Do you have a creative process and if so can you walk us through it?

My creative process starts off with lots of drawings, which are then broken down and simplified. I don’t like using line so everything is broken into separate shapes. Then I scan these drawings in and play with colour and composition. This is usually where the whole piece comes together. I love arranging stuff! I keep playing until all the shapes and colours balance just right.

UO: How would you describe your style in three words?

Inspired by Matisse.

UO: What’s your go-to working soundtrack?

I usually have radio 4 or 6 on in the background but if I’m feeling like a sing-a-long I’ll play some Stevie Wonder, Prince, Joni Mitchell or Johnny Cash.

UO: Favourite workday snack?


UO: What is it about nature and the animal kingdom that captures your imagination?

Animals are great to draw, you can really have fun with colour and pattern. Flowers are great for their decorative potential. They have a classic, timeless quality. You can abstract them down and then concentrate on making the colours and shapes as beautiful as possible.

UO: Do you have any rituals if you’re feeling creatively blocked?

I’ll get out the house! A long walk usually does the trick or talking it over with my husband. He is an amazing film and animation director and is a great sounding board.

UO: What’s your favourite artistic medium and why?

I love screen printing. After I graduated I did an internship with a screen printing company. All the fabric and wallpaper was printed by hand on these huge 90ft long printing tables. It was great to learn the whole screen printing process and it made me focus on printing my own work. I realized it really suited my style, big blocks of flat colour, using negative space, colour overlays and getting the most out of a limited palette, then bringing it alive with dark patterns and textures. Even if my work is done on the computer and not printed, I take on board all these considerations.

UO: What’s your favourite way to spend the weekend in London?

Saturday would be a walk along the South Bank, seeing an exhibition and getting some yummy food from Borough Market. Sunday might be trying to get some work done or spending the day pottering around Crystal Palace, where I live. Taking my son to the park to see the dinosaurs and feed the ducks. Then lunch on the triangle and a browse through all the amazing second hand furniture shops.

UO: What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The thrill of a new project!

UO: What do you want to do next?

I would love to design some fabrics or some food packaging… or anything else that I haven’t done yet. The great thing about this job seeing your work translated onto a completely different medium.