Niamh Evans is the talent behind our Round the World Summer Sale artwork, so we thought we'd sit down with her and find out what makes her tick…
Tell us a bit more about yourself
I'm currently in the summer before my third year of my degree in Fine Art at Lancaster University. At university I usually spend my spare time training for cheerleading competitions and baking loaves of bread, but during the break I have been producing various commissions through Kiwi Ink. In addition to drawing, I play guitar and ukulele, and have recently made a habit of altering charity shop clothing into modern outfits. I'm a sucker for floral print, drink perhaps 7 cups of tea in a day and love strawberries to the point that it's a borderline addiction.
How would you describe your work?
Wide ranging! Throughout my artistic career, I have always tried to explore different styles and materials. The work I produce whilst at university for example, is very textural and experimental, producing sculptures and installations from recovered materials such as magazines and second-hand clothes. In terms of my photo realist works, I find the process quite traditional, finding great joy in producing detailed and tonally-rich drawings from just a set of graphite pencils. As for my illustrative and typography work, I like to focus on colour and take great inspiration from children's illustrators, testing out and harnessing the different effects produced by each medium. On the whole, I feel I take great care and time in all my works, and always carefully consider the materials used and the effects they can produce.
What got you into drawing?
As I have been drawing since the age of three, I don't quite remember what initially piqued my interest, but it was the imagination aspect which kept me wanting to draw more and more. I thought it was brilliant - anything I could pull from the depths of my imagination, I could bring to life with just a couple of crayons. Drawing formed this porthole between real life and my imagination, where I could transport myself to different worlds. To this day I still doodle strange oddities every now and then...
If you weren’t an artist, what was the back-up plan?
I'd own a bakery! I am an avid baker at home and the decorative aspect always pleases my artistic personality. I could spend all my time shaping loaves into customers' faces or drizzle cream to look like a mountain range. Plus I would get to eat everything too - how perfect.
What are your favourite subjects/topics to draw?
The human form is by far my favourite subject to draw - whether that's re-imagining someone as a cartoon, recreating a family portrait or attending life drawing classes. I love all the different features which make us unique, and try to capture that whilst drawing.
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
I try to take ideas from everything I can - getting lost in a book, waking up from a strange dream, recalling a childhood memory - it can all generate inspiration. I just need to remember to write all my ideas down or I forget!
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a few quarantine commissions! For so many of us, life has really slowed down since the beginning of lockdown - whether that's because of being furloughed or having our academic years cut short. Because of this, more and more people have the time to reach out to me for commissions for themselves and for others. These commissions are mainly cartoon requests, but I am also working on the development of menus for a local tea shop.
How long does it normally take to complete a project?
This depends heavily on the project - I spend maybe a couple of hours on typography works, whereas photo realist drawings take a few days, but the projects I create whilst at university can take weeks, sometimes even months. Every project has its own timescale.
What are your top 5 art supplies?
What pen or pencil couldn’t you live without?
Staedtler Pigment Liners! They're just perfect for everything - sketches, notes, outlines, more refined drawings, etc. I take them everywhere with me.
Do you know when a work is finished or are you constantly tweaking?
When I was younger, I always over-worked drawings. And as much as I still have a heavily perfectionist brain, I have learned that although some artworks really benefit from excessive hours spent perfecting a certain gradation, or adding more detail, some of the most beautiful works I have produced are the most simple. So, I suppose instinctively I want to keeping working, but I have learned that sometimes less is more.
What work are you most proud of?
I think some of the works I am most proud of were made whilst attending life drawing. You're in a space where all you have are your materials and the model, so creativity flows very easily, and I always try to experiment with different techniques and materials and styles. It's also a time where you can share your artwork, and find inspiration from the artists around you - the same human form can look so different through another's eyes.
What tips do you have for aspiring artists/designers?
Draw, paint, sculpt every day and anywhere. Not all you create is going to be a masterpiece, but everything you do will help you learn and develop as an artist. So, draw that man on the bus with the absurdly long nose, attend that screen-printing course, find out what happens when you mix candle wax with Indian ink and record it all in a notebook - it'll keep you inspired to create more and more.Keep up to date with Niamh's work on social media:
23 July 2020