We had the good fortune of connecting with Nic Mac and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nic, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Success, is such a funny thing, for it is something that will never mean, just one thing or one goal, to any one person. It is individual, even though the external world will try to tell us different. But, in what “success” means to me, which is to find happiness and contentment in all that I do, then I think the most important factor behind the small amount of success I feel I have acquired so far, would be my determination and resilience in making sure, that no matter what happens, I keep walking that path and continue walking it, no matter what obstacle life may put in the way.
But also I think a big factor is to surround myself with people who motivate and inspire me. Positive energy is so vital, especially when that “walk” gets tough, as it inevitably does, along the way. For everyone needs some heroes to pick them back up and remind them why they are stood where they are, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had some heroes, who have done just that.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The work I am most excited about is work that moves people, work that tells someone their own story back to them when they view an image. I feel that with a few my pieces and it is my aim to continue to do that.
A mini comic of mine particularly had this effect. It was about a character with a house for a head, how they navigate an ever changing landscape and how they realise their mask does not protect them. That it must be destroyed so that they can find and accept their true selves in order to heal. It is the first in a series of comics that explores mental health.
The intention behind them is that no matter how dark the subject matter may become, they will all end on a positive note or lesson. As my true belief is that there is always a positive outcome from every wreckage. It may be small but it’s there, we just have to trust and believe in our capacity to see it.
I gave the comic to some young adults who were going to start a mindfulness based therapy program, and the feedback was so positive, they said it gave them hope.
Which meant so much to me.
Being able to communicate in this way is the ultimate aim.
Art has such power to evoke emotion. That’s what I love about it and although generally my illustration work is very colourful and bold, it often promotes a sadness rather than a positivity. But I enjoy that at first glance a lot of my work appears quite “happy” and I like that it it allows people to take what they want to take from it depending on how they feel.
They can be satisfied with an aesthetic, with the ‘surface level’. Or they can ‘feel’ the thread of something more sinister if they want to spend time with it.
It’s a play on never judging a book by it’s cover, an idea that correlates to the modern world, to social media and to ourselves as human beings. Being trained to ‘hide the bad’ and ‘amplify the good’
because, If something looks good, then it must be! right?
It is something I really noticed when I was in the depths of my own mental health battles, I felt alone, which is all too common in people suffering and I believe it comes from that amplification of good things, it means that a lot of people feel there is “no space” or place for the bad.
So this is a big motivator and aim behind a lot of my work, I want some people to be able to see it and say “yes! yes! this is how I feel! thank you”
You ask about “challenges and lessons learnt along the way” and I suppose the main thing that I feel I have learnt has been from the challenges. Learning about myself while overcoming a bad period of mental health struggles. There was a lot of doubt and a lot of low self worth. and this is now why I make art, it is to help people who have felt and experienced these things, It is my “why?” it is the reason to get up out of bed and create. I don’t do it for me any more, I do it for someone who needs it, someone who needs to feel understood.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I don’t usually make plans apart from picking a general location. So I think I would start pretty much anywhere in north east London and just walk around. Be spontaneous and go down roads that seem the most exciting. Bump into a great spot for food and drink and be inspired by the unpredictability. If you go with an open mind, you can’t go wrong!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My best friend comes to mind. Lucy Alexandra Harper, an incredible Graphic Designer. She listened to me before anyone else did. She saved my life in so many ways and I think I am still here because of her, I am able to do the work that I do because of her. So most certainly probably one of the biggest shoutouts would be to her.
The next is someone who I don’t think really knows how much they impacted me with their art, But it’s Ben Brown, I read an article about him and his work in an issue of VNA Magazine, and I just picked up the pen again for the first time in a long time and I didn’t put it down. I don’t know what it was about his art, but I couldn’t not draw! It started something in me, and for that I will always attribute my work as an illustrator and what I have done, to him and that article.
Then lastly, as sappy as it sounds it would be my family, each member has inspired me in some way and so many of them support me in more ways than they know. My grandad’s particularly did when I was younger, they were the first to get me drawing and saw something in me before I did myself. I mean, actually I’m still not so sure I do see it yet! ahah