Featured Illustrator: Nicola Patten

This month's Featured Illustrator is Reading-based artist Nicola Patten. A graduate of University College Falmouth, she was one of the Undiscovered Voices illustration winners in 2012. Access the Featured Illustrator Gallery to see a broad range of her portfolio work.


My banner design is a concept illustration from a children's book idea I had about an unlikely polar bear friendship. My puppy had a bit of a thing about polar bears at the time and I think it rubbed off on me a bit. Drawing polar bears seemed a better way to express it than jumping up at the TV and crying whilst watching Frozen Planet, but dogs will be dogs.

Process and Progress

I usually work traditionally to start with and then finish up digitally - I like the look of watercolour, ink and gouache on paper which is very difficult to achieve on a computer, although the original artwork rarely shows much resemblance to the final illustration! The polar bear in my banner design, for example, started life as an inky grizzly…

My accepted entry for the Undiscovered Voices 2012 book, Viking Makes a Discovery

Since winning a place in the Undiscovered Voices compilation I was picked up by the Bright Agency who took my work along the art licensing route, and I have produced work for clients such as Hallmark Cards and American Greetings, as well as the lovely people at Artistic Britain who sell my work as canvas prints and cushions through stores such as Dunelm Mill and Homesense. I love the thought that people I'll never meet have my illustrations on show in their homes! I have recently started working full time in a greetings card design studio, meaning I get to play with glitter and paint and diamantes all day, which I'm sure is any little girl's dream as well as my own! I still paint in my free time too, and creating children's characters provides some light relief from flowy dresses and manly fonts from time to time!


Being accepted into the Undiscovered Voices compilation has helped me get a foot in the door of a very difficult industry to find work in. Probably the most important advice I can think of to give anybody starting out as an illustrator would be never be afraid to work for free. Obviously don't be taken advantage of by clients looking to get free work out of people that enjoy painting, but breaks come in many disguises, and almost all of the steps that helped me as an illustrator came from the people I've met through doing work that might not have seemed terribly lucrative at the time. Internships with the right people can be excellent experience, and definitely don't be afraid to enter competitions that could prove useful to you! Make sure you pick the right people to work for though - a lot of of small clients think they can get away with disguising free work as a competition, where the 'winner' gets to be paid for the work they should have been paid for regardless.

Nicola's website: nicolapatten.com
email: nicola@nicolapatten.com
Nicola on Tumblr
Nicola on Facebook
Twitter: @nicola_patten


Access the Featured Illustrator Gallery to see the full range of Nicola's work !


  1. Wonderful! I love the looseness in your banner bear and the energetic pencil lines, too.

  2. Thank you for the polar bear! (And the dog story) You made my day!

  3. Great article Nicola, love the polar bear! X

  4. Yes lovely polar bear and love your style thank you for sharing with us and look forward to more in the future maybe :-)

  5. Thanks for the lovely comments everyone! And Julia - good to hear from you again hope you're doing well! :)

  6. Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky24 November 2013 at 20:56

    Lovely article, Nicola! I especially love the violin playing Tiger!


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