Mini expoPassion 2 May 2017
Mini Expo: the cutest illustrations by Nina Cosford

It’s time for talent! Meet Nina Cosford (28), a freelance illustrator who lives in Hastings. Nina worked on a range of pop-up city guides for Walker Books and did some editorial commissions for magazines here and there. Gradually, her work started to take a more female-centric path. This was mainly sparked by a project called GIRLS Illustrated, essentially a fan blog that she started in response to Lena Dunham’s amazing show GIRLS.

> Check out our other Mini Expo stories here

After collaborating with HBO on official promotion for the show (and meeting Lena Dunham!), she began to develop her own content and themes in her other projects. And there’s much more coming up. Nina: “This year, I’ve had a slightly slower approach and have not focussed so much on “To Do” lists, which is a big change for me!”

What are you currently working on?
Nina: “I’ve got a few different projects on the go at the moment including an animation with Apartment Therapy and The School of Life – I collaborate with my boyfriend Ali Graham who is an illustrator and animator. I’m also working on a couple of editorial commissions for Flow Magazine and A Cup of Jo, which I’m really excited about, and planning a collaborative campaign with one of my favorite pen brands!”

How would you describe your work yourself?
Nina: “That’s always a tricky one to answer. I guess humor is at the heart of most of my work. I used to be so focussed on capturing a scene or an idea as quickly as possible, but in recent months I’ve found I’m taking a little more time to stop, think and edit what I make. I like using color wherever possible and will never tire of drawing girls who are at odds with themselves (a lot of my work is autobiographical).”

What did you want to be when you were a child?
Nina: “Firstly an astronaut, then an egyptologist and then a forensic expert! I knew art would always be in my life but I don’t recall ever envisaging it as my full-time profession. I guess a career in illustration wasn’t quite as common when I was young / studying – it wasn’t even an option at my art school! It was only when I heard of the incredible illustration course at Kingston University that I considered venturing down that path – at least for studies.”

Best pencil in the world?
Nina: “I’d say the Staedtler Noris 0.5 mechanical pencil. I use it every day for everything.”

Who or what are you particularly inspired by?
Nina: “I think finding the work of Mary Blair was a major turning point for me. I literally had tears in my eyes as I first looked through her Disney concept art and character designs. There is something so understated and natural and fun about the way she lays paint down and creates a scene or a world. It was then that I realized the less I tried to draw realistically, the more intuitive and true my work could become. Other sources of inspiration for me are my hometown, traveling, visiting museums, sitting on trains, history, movie soundtracks, old buildings and walking.”

What milestone are you most proud of?
Nina: “Illustrating the front cover of the Radio Times for the Queen of England’s 90th birthday. I’d never made it to the front page of any magazine before and was so excited/scared to be asked. I’m also quite proud of the GIRLS Illustrated project and seeing it through over the past few years. It lead to collaborations with HBO and meeting Lena Dunham which were some big life moments for me!”

Any big dreams for the future?
Nina:  “This time a year ago, I had a big list of things I wanted to achieve (to have my own stationery range, to write and illustrate my own book, to expand my online audience etc). By the end of last year, I had done these things and surprised myself by surviving the book project (the most stressful project to date). This year, I’ve had a slightly slower approach and have not focussed so much on “To Do” lists, which is a big change for me! I want to carry on what I’m already doing and collaborate with more people along the way.”

Best career lesson you learned along the way?
Nina: “There are a few lessons I’ve been gradually learning: always take your work seriously; don’t misread exposure for exploitation; enjoy what you’re drawing.”

> Like to keep updated on Nina’s latest work? You can follow here on Instagram right here.

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