Illustrator Spotlight: Nicola Schofield

© Nicola Schofield

 April 1, 2024

We are pleased to feature Nicola Schofield and her April banner design for Kidlit411 in our Illustrator Spotlight.  

© Nicola Schofield

Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.

I spent huge amounts of time reading and drawing as a kid and I always wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Not realising illustration was an actual career, I studied physics and made art alongside whatever job I had. After selling watercolours for a few years, then completing various freelance illustration projects I wanted to focus on creating images that would be seen by lots of people, and would stick around, physically and in people’s memories. To me that meant picture books. They can have an enormous impact on children and they are often passed on and shared down the generations.

© Nicola Schofield

Congrats on your banner design for Kidlit411. Tell us about how you approached this project.

I knew I wanted to have birds doing a fun activity, but I also wanted to take them outside their normal environment. After a bit of brainstorming I decided on space and so gave them a rocket to the moon. Of course they would find little green bird aliens there rather than little green men. 

The short wide format of the banner was fun to work with compositionally and allowed me to create a mini narrative in the single image by showing the trail of the rocket circling the earth and heading up to the moon.

What is your preferred medium and illustration process?

I like to experiment with materials when I sketch and draw from life, but I always return to a chunky mechanical pencil and splashes of watercolour. For final illustrations I usually scan watercolour textures / shapes / colours and then build up and draw into the image digitally.

© Nicola Schofield

You were once a theoretical physicist and building scientist. Has any of your past careers helped or influenced your illustrations

My career path has been a winding, rambling adventure to many places. But the common theme in all the jobs and hobbies I’ve loved has been puzzle solving and creating things. Creative problem solving is a skill used just as much in debugging software as it is in creating a compelling visual narrative. 

In the future I’d love to put my knowledge to use by illustrating a fun science or tech themed book.

© Nicola Schofield

What projects are your working on now?

I’m polishing my portfolio to start looking for an agent (any agents reading this, please do get in touch!) and also thumbnailing some new picture book ideas.

© Nicola Schofield

What is something most people don't know about you?

I own a spinning wheel and would love to dedicate a whole summer to take a fleece all the way through from sheep to finished jumper. 

© Nicola Schofield

Where can people find you online?

Nicola is a picture book illustrator and author, living and working just outside London. She’s originally from Bronte Country in West Yorkshire and before becoming an illustrator she worked as a theoretical physicist, Viking, and time travel technician (not all at the same time).

Nicola likes to mix traditional techniques, usually watercolour, with digital painting. She draws from life whenever she can and jointly runs the local chapter of Urban Sketchers. Her illustrations are driven by character emotion and the unique reactions and imaginations of small children. Her favourite stories have a timeless feel, a dark twist or two, a happy ending, and lots of magical realism.

When she’s not drawing, you’ll find her making doll’s house miniatures, escaping from escape rooms, playing board games, and trampolining with her three year old daughter.