Above: Nicola Suckling current range of china.
When are images stronger than words?
For me, most of the time. That’s why I quit an English degree to study illustration.
What would your ideal commission be and why?
I’d love to create some pieces for the National Museum of Computing and for Bletchley Park. I’m intrigued by the aesthetics of early computers and circuit boards and I’ve been working on some patterns using these.
What are the three main factors you’ve found for giving a platform for your illustration work to be seen?
So far nothing’s beaten my market stall for customer interest and interaction. Online platforms are great too – I had a customer who found me on twitter, then visited my stall and bought lots. I’m hoping to host two events in the near future as a platform for my china too: an afternoon tea party and a speakeasy night serving cocktails in teacups.
What was your key motivation to work on fine bone china?
It started as a hobby – I bought some ceramic paints from my local art shop and played around on some china I’d bought at a charity shop. I liked my blue and white work the best and entered some pieces for an exhibition. I had great feedback from the exhibition so I wanted to explore the china further.
My portfolio as a freelance illustrator was all over the place – I’d work in any style a client wanted – so being restricted by the china form and only using blue works really well for me.
Above: Telegraph Poles
What are the three obstacles that you find throughout your freelance working day and how do you make sure you get through these?
I’m a terrible procrastinator but once I get started I keep going. I need to plan my day and start with a short task which will get me to my desk without dragging my heels too much. I could draw all day, but it’s not so easy to get excited about finances…
I’d struggle if I worked at home on my own full-time. I like a chat, and a break from my own projects is important too, so I have a part-time office job which keeps me relatively sane.
My home is filled with far too much china, boxes and general art gubbins. I’ve not found a solution to this so far, other than learning how much you can pile on top of things without causing an avalanche.
Tell us a about your style and work process from the pieces you showcase on your website…
I’ve got two styles on my website. A sort of witty range which includes my ‘Secret Biscuit’ Cup and Saucer, and ‘Storm in a Teacup’s, and a more industrial range such as the Pylon Teapot and Telegraph Poles Jug.
One idea usually goes through several versions before I’m happy with it. For example, I’ve been working on a space range for a while but I’m having trouble translating this to a design that could be easily reproduced.
To see if an illustration is going to work I’ll mock up mugs and teapots in photoshop, and then print out a laser jet transfer, applying this to china.
Above: View from the Stand
If you weren’t working on fine bone china, what would your illustrations sit on?
Something domestic – I like the thought of my illustrations being part of people’s everyday lives. I’m hoping to expand the range to other homewares such as cushions, tea towels and bed linen.
What quote keeps you motivated?
William Morris: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’