Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John FrithOctober 1, 2014
It's time for another Artist Spotlight post! In the hot seat today, is our newest addition to the Red Cap family, Nicholas John Frith! We are so excited to have him as a part of our team and just love his fantastic designs in our collection. With a nod to vintage illustration, bold colors, plus a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, his cards are selling out as fast as we can stock them. Below, Nicholas chats with us about how he stays inspired in day-to-day work, his brand new children's book and pipe dream job. Don't forget to check him out on his website and blog as well. Thank you, Nicholas!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Did you always want to be an artist from childhood?
Yes. I’ve heard recalled the tale on countless occasion of how, when I was 6, my teacher told my parents that she thought one day I’d be a graphic designer – well she wasn’t far off.
In secondary (high) school I was always getting my marked science book back with disapproving notes in red about the doodles in the back pages. After school I went to art college and then university, but although I was passionate I was unfocused, unguided. I’m not sure there was ever a conscious decision to ‘be an artist’ or to do it as a job. I just always drew. That’s what I did, who I was. That was enough for me. I guess that’s why I spent the next 12 intervening years doing other things. I never stopped doodling and noting down ideas though. And there was always that pipe-dream lurking of one day writing and illustrating books.
Some things happened in my life a few years back that made me think, and one day it all just clicked. The focus started to come. I took the gamble and moved from working from full-time in my job (waiting tables) to part-time. Hard work and a little luck followed. I eventually took that final leap to full-time freelance. And well.. here I am. Jeez, that feels like a rant. Sorry. Like, that’s the last 30 years of my life in a nut shell there. Scary. Ha!
Where do you gather your inspiration?
Everywhere. Experiences. Dreams of yesterdays past. Books. Nature. And, in the last year, Pinterest!
What is your favorite medium to create with?
I sketch in pencil (2B, usually), artwork using a brush with black drawing ink, and colour in photoshop. I love a bit of silkscreen printing too, but I rarely make time for that anymore, sadly.
What is your favorite piece you have ever created?
That’s tough to answer. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite, though I’m still pretty fond of a piece I wrote and illustrated a couple of years back for children’s magazine ANORAK, it was a cautionary tale about a mean and greedy wood-pigeon. Oh, and I’ve recently done these fab cards for an ace LA-based company. You may have heard of them… [Editors note: Aww, shucks!]
Do you ever get “creative block”–and if so, how do you combat it?
Not so much a block but more of self-doubt thing. My brain flips out every few months. So a bit of distance and perspective help. And a lot of post-its on my desk saying ‘relax!’ Doing something else creative without thought to ‘work’ helps too… Time in the kitchen is a good one – I love to cook. Or a long walk. When it happens, it’s a wave that I just need to ride.
We love your wrapping papers! Will you be doing any special projects like that in the future?
Thanks. Yeah I hope to do some more wrap but there’s nothing in progress yet. I am working on some new things with a company called Beast In Show though. Dave and Sally (the owners) were really the very first supporters of my work – about 4 years back – and doing new projects with them is always such fun. We’re working on a little china snack bowl (we’ve previously done some mugs) and also cushion too.
If you could work in your dream job (other than what you are doing now) what would it be?
Ooo…Provided I had a very comfortable amount of funds. I’d be happy with no job at all and a lot of hobbies – lots of hobbies to do with travel, writing, cinema, food, music, books… But that does not answer your question does it. Because that’s not really a ‘job’ is it!? Dream job? Okay. Film director, maybe. Brewer?
We hear you are working on a children's book–can you tell us a bit about it?
Yes, that’s all done. Phew! But it won’t be hitting the shelves until next summer. It’s my first picture book, which is pretty exciting and daunting. It’s titled, Hector and Hummingbird, and is set deep in the mountains of Peru. It’s a fun story of the relationship between two odd couple friends, a bear and a hummingbird. It’ll be published here in the UK by Alison Green Books (an imprint of Scholastic), but with some luck it’ll make it’s way to the US and beyond too. Watch this space. I’m starting work on my next book this winter!
Any artists you really look up to, and why?
Hmm. I love the work of Roger Duvoisin, Leonard Weisgard, the Provensens. Dahlov Ipcar is an inspiration. Speaking of more contemporary artists though. and it may sound like a Red Cap roll-call but Meg Hunt and Jon Klassen. I’m a big admirer of them both. Also Carson Ellis, Bjorn Lie, Jean Jullien, Blexbolex… ah, the list goes on.
Images courtesy Nicholas John Frith