February 2014 – Meeting Nina Cosford, Illustrator

On 18 February the Hackney Wicked Women met at our cracking new venue, upstairs at Number 90 in Hackney Wick. We welcomed the inspirational Nina Cosford, an illustrator from Hastings who talked to us about her work, and how she has carved a career in a dynamic and creative sector.

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Nina brought some of her work, including some pop-up educational books with her own distinct illustrations.

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Nina, where did you study? 

I studied Illustration & Animation at Kingston University, London and graduated with a First Class Honours in 2011.

What has been your favourite moment of your career so far?

I think the ‘Girls Illustrated’ project has been one of my biggest career highlights. I started the blog in November 2013 when I realised I wanted to combine my love of HBO’s tv show GIRLS with my illustration.

Within just a few days, Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow were following me on Twitter and were retweeting my work and sharing it with millions of fans. This led to an exclusive commission from HBO to help launch the release of Season 3.

I also was invited by Sky Atlantic to the London Premiere of GIRLS as a special guest and commissioned to do live drawings of various guests at the afterparty. It’s amazing to think of the difference social media has made to my career – how else would I have had access to people like Lena Dunham and the Girls HBO team?!

What’s the hardest part of your job?

I don’t yet have an agent, which means I have to spin many many plates – from contracting to social media, negotiating fees to all of my self-promotion.

It can be quite hectic at times as I am having to play all of these roles let alone produce the actual work!At the same time, it’s very insightful and a good way to learn the ins and outs of the industry I’m working in.

What’s your favourite part of your job? 

I like the fact that I have a choice in what I do. I can say yes or no to jobs or even approach people and create my own jobs in some cases. It’s nice to be able to plan my own schedule and run my own studio.

I’d like to have an agent one day so that I can develop my practice even further and push out into other realms whilst someone else takes care of all the negotiating and admin stuff! I also really like the fact that I can make my own projects and use illustration to learn and understand things.

What advice would you give to any budding female illustrators?

I would advise three simple things to any budding illustrator:

  • A decent, clear website that instantly gets across your style and character
  • Online platforms are crucial! Regular use of Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram make you look busy, productive and dedicated and give you access to almost anyone.
  • Meet people in person wherever possible. It’s really nice for people to put a face to your work and see the person behind the practice.

As a female, I think there can be a big advantage of working for yourself. It can be very empowering and allows you to understand the industry you are working in from a very close perspective. There can often be a lot of multitasking involved as I mentioned!

Using your personal image also helps to get your character across and adds a feeling of integrity and approachability.

Find out more…

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