Illustrator and influencer, Niki Pilkington, shares her artistic journey with LFC – exploring her known-desire to be creative, where she draws inspiration from, and some of the first collaborations she has done (including TOPSHOP and Ted Baker!). Based in the East Village in New York, Pilkington takes us into her world through her words and her art.
I’ve been working in the East Village in New York for two and a half years now. I've always known I wanted to do something 'creative' and I think my job title itself has evolved with the industry, as well as the increasingly digitalised times. I realized this was the path I wanted to take right after I graduated and was quickly picked up by an agency. The commissions started rolling in and within a few months I was working with the likes of Ted Baker and TOPSHOP. I didn't really have a chance to rethink my path because I was straight on it, but I have no regrets!
First and foremost, I'm an illustrator, but with the way the industry is changing and with the help of social media, I'm now approached and viewed as an influencer too – which I love, but while I am now seen as an influencer, the need to constantly post on social media is a massive pressure. That's something that wasn't around when I started, so I've had to adapt. It's has huge benefits, but it's also very stressful at times.
There are frustrations that come with being in a digital age. Besides the need for incessant posting on social media, it’s a lot easier to mimic other people’s work. Whenever I find my work ripped off or copied, and trust me, imitation isn't always the best form of flattery, my husband encourages me not dwell on it or get frustrated, instead just work harder and keep coming up with new ideas right away. It's harder than it sounds, but it's definitely always in the back of my mind when I see something of mine 'repackaged'.
"Not everyone is going to love what you do all of the time, and to be honest, it would be very boring if they did."
As always, with the frustrations come many advantages! The main advantage of my job is being my own boss, but that can be both a blessing and a curse. Being able to pick and choose your own hours and work from anywhere is wonderful, but it can also be a very lonely career if you don't make an effort to be sociable and put the pencils down. On the other hand, you have to be very dedicated and proactive and avoid being easily distracted.
My inspiration comes from the girls I draw. I draw each one because they lure me in for some reason, whether it's their unique characteristics, their style, the way they carry themselves, the way they dress or what they stand for. I always want the person looking at my picture to feel the same way that I did when I discovered the girl for the first time. If I'm going to tell their story, I feel like I have a duty to tell it right...with a bit of added neon.
Not everyone is going to love what you do all of the time, and to be honest, it would be very boring if they did, so learning not to take criticism or negativity to heart (especially in these nasty internet trolling times!!) The best thing to do is just keep creating more and more all the time. Making mistakes is definitely the best way to develop and own your own style.
My best advice is to just keep working at what you love, even if it doesn't get the likes and reposts or the recognition you believe it should be getting. Just keep at it and be true and genuine to what you want to create. As soon as you start just doing what you think people want to see, you'll lose that soul you worked so hard to achieve and people will see straight through it.