Artist Showcase: Nicola Manuel


Nicola Manuel – Illustrator/Artist/Editor/Knitwear Seller

Nicola Manuel has a lot on her plate at the moment; she works weekends at a woolly shop in town, she studies Graphic Arts – Illustration at Winchester School of Art and she is the Wessex Scene image editor checking and requesting images for articles. Nicola studies illustration at WSA, but illustration is forever changing, styles change frequently, so what’s her approach?

Illustration is stereotypically pen on paper but more recently found objects have become a key source to creating an illustration… Instead of picking up a pen why not pick up a photo or found object to create a new illustration?”

Nicola prefers to use found objects, image distortion and collage to create striking images outside the box of traditional illustration, playing with negative space, shapes and scale to control the viewers’ eyes

However, illustrators she consider inspirational include Lauren Child (Charlie & Lola) and Nick Butterworth (Percy the Park keeper), who both work predominantly on children’s books, creating images in relatively traditional ways, such as ink pen and watercolour. Nicola has met her idols, asking them both to sign her favourite childhood books and asking them about their success, work and practice.

Yet, their friendly characters seem very different from Nicola’s current work that includes a book cover for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, using found mental health records to create subtle tones and textures to create layers of depth. This use of visual metaphor is one Nicola likes to use, distorting images and perceptions to create work both complex and striking, earning her renown for her work, enabling her to reach the first stage of the Penguin Book Cover competition 2012 for her One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest cover.

Nicola is most interested in illustrative book art, the idea that books are not just to be read, but to be manipulated to further enhance the story, or to create an alternative meaning; this can include cutting into the pages, deleting or covering some of the words and abstracting elements.

So where does Nicola want to be in a few years time? Living and working (as a book artist) in London, with her Mr Right and a houseful of source material, i.e. books. Remember the name, Nicola Manuel’s going to make it big. 

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