Nicola contacted me looking for some casual headshots and portraits as well as images that told a behind the scenes story of her work and process. It was an absolute dream to travel to her gorgeous home studio in Surrey to photograph her and her space. She has created the most lush studio and it was such a pleasure to spend time with her in that space. Read more about Nicola, her art, and her business below.
You made everything really fun and really easy, gave easy directions to follow, explained everything clearly, and made me feel confident and relaxed in front of the camera, something that is not easy to do!Nicola
Can you tell me about what you do and how you got into it?
I started Howell Illustration full time when I moved out of the city and into the countryside. I am very inspired by nature and green spaces, and have a degree in art, so illustration was a natural choice. I built my Etsy shop and website because I wanted a way to create a passive income while I searched for other illustration jobs, and I really wanted to make art accessible, and sustainable, this seemed like the perfect way to do it. I started illustrating maps and books when I realised that a) I love maps and also b) when my old work colleagues at publishing houses started asking me.
Why do you do what you do?
The decision to get into illustration was made when I had a break down while I was working as an editor in Central London, and I thought there had to be a better way to live. I love creating, I love being my own boss, I love making quick decisions and being responsible to no one but myself, I love deciding when to work hard and when I can ease off. I hope that my art can bring joy.
What do you do to stay motivated?
Go for walks, create for the sake of creating, write lists and do the easiest thing on them to make it feel like I’ve been productive, and sometimes I just let myself be unproductive, sometimes you just need a rest to be able to get up and start again.
What are your dreams for your business moving forward?
I’d love to illustrate more books, write and have my own book published. I’d love to design a board game, I’d like to get some work into art galleries, and I’d love to be making enough money that my husband doesn’t have to work.
Do you have any advice for any other creative entrepreneurs or small businesses?
Yes, brand yourself right at the start (create a branding board): you can change it later, but to have everything consistent right at the beginning would have been much more helpful! Keep going and share your work. If you’re not sure how to do something, find someone who does know how to do it and ask them or take a course, don’t just sit there confused or you’ll work yourself into a horrible spiral.