We had the good fortune of connecting with Niamh Power and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Niamh, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I always wanted to work as someone who gets to draw things. My grandfather was an architect and I remember just being obsessed with his architectural plans. I would draw my own and plan out where all my things would go in my dream house – so I guess it’s no surprise that I’m still drawing my dream house in my work now! After studying illustration at the University of Brighton I was surrounded by so many amazing, talented people, we also shared our studio with Graphic Designers which gave me a wider view of the art and design world. It allowed me to consider how I could make this my life, how I could keep drawing and make it my career. Illustrators mostly work freelance so I guess starting my own business was just the natural direction my career took. It’s definitely an ongoing process, I’ve worked in other things through the years to make it possible to keep illustration going. It isn’t naturally an easy process, you face setbacks and uncertainty, busier and quieter periods and it’s important to remind yourself why you are doing it in those times. But the sense of pride you get from showing someone your work and them getting it and being excited about it is just a fantastic feeling!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an illustrator who recently just moved back home to Belfast after living in London and Brighton for the last while. My work is so inspired by my love of interiors, dream furniture, and clutter! As someone who was (and still is!) obsessed with home makeover shows, the sims and moving my room around my work is an extension of this love. I draw inspiration from films and set design. I draw furniture, ceramics, and sculpture I wish I owned! I can find inspiration from walking past an interesting building, watching a film with fantastic styling, or seeing people in fun fashion. My work aims to communicate ideas and feelings through bold, dynamic characters and objects.
A lot of my private commissions are these personalised portraits where I capture a person through the things they love and surround themselves with. These are my favourite to illustrate as I love drawing little hidden details. They give me a list of things they would like to see and I hide them all within the illustration. People love searching through the drawing for all the little bits that are so meaningful to them.
I have been working as a Freelance Illustrator since I graduated University but it definitely takes a while to establish yourself. Whilst I have been growing my business over the years, sometimes I have had to work in other jobs alongside. I am proud and feel so fortunate of where I am at with my career today. You have to be your own driving force, be able to bounce back because clients don’t always love every idea, but that’s the nature of the job. You have to problem solve, rethink things and consider other perspectives. But this is also the exciting thing about this job, you are constantly in a state of learning and developing your practice.
I think something that I have learned along the way is that you can’t be disheartened if you feel like you’ve hit a wall. It’s so easy to compare yourself to the success of others around you but all you can do in that situation is keep focusing on yourself, focus on what makes your work great, what you can work on and develop – just keep swimming!
I would love for my work to give people the same excitement I felt from opening a book and seeing there was a map or a drawing of a house with all the rooms carved out – spending ages looking through all the details. I want my illustrations to be something people can come back to, each time spotting things they may have missed before!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have recently moved back home to Belfast after nearly 10 years of being away so I am definitely reacquainting myself with the city. But Belfast has so many great places to see. The Queen’s Film Theatre is an independent cinema here that shows both new and classics so we would absolutely pop in there and then head to The Duke of York for a drink and some traditional music. The Ulster Museum has such a great collection of art and it’s actually in Botanic Gardens which has two class Palm Houses so there is another day out for sure and we could have dinner at Villa Italia. And if you were up for a drive we could head to the Giant’s Causeway which is an absolute natural beauty!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I think first and foremost I have to say my family – they have always been my biggest fans! The encouragement, love and support from them as I have pursued the ups and downs of freelance life has been amazing. They have always been in my corner!
And I also have to recognise my friends who work in the creative world. We’ve been collaborating since Uni and we still work together, chat through ideas and continue to support each other!