Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Artquirk ... England

Artist: Nina Clough
Business: Artquirk
Web site:
Location: Southsea, UK

What do you create?
I do paintings and drawings mainly, and illustrations. I've also made a few artist books in my time which is something I want to get back into. I love printing, particularly monoprints for the beautiful fuzzy line.

Where and when do you do your creative work?
I make art from a little room in my house on Mondays and Tuesdays! It is a small room but I am buying a house soon so I can have more room to make a mess. I create in the evenings and weekends sometimes if I get the urge, but officially Mondays and Tuesdays are my 'art days'.

Do you have a "day job" outside of your art?
The rest of the week I work as a Library Assistant at the University of Portsmouth. I enjoy helping the students and having access to all the art books and journals! I like books!

Where and what did you study?
I got my degree in Illustration in 2001 at the University of Portsmouth. I haven't got very far since graduating as I now work for the university – but I do like still being mistaken for a student! I was considering studying architecture at one point because I was good at and enjoyed maths but I'm glad I didn't. I rather just make pictures to hang on the wall and not to build the wall itself!

What inspires you and motivates you?
I am inspired by many things – an interesting landscape, building, person, colours and shapes and characters. Or a story or quote or mental image. Or seeing something I like and thinking I wanna try that! I like wandering around taking photographs so they are often the fuel to my fire when I need inspiration. My motivation comes from the longing to retire from 'normal' work. Within 10 years I will be an established self employed artist! I will, I will, I will.

When did you start doing this?
I went part time at work about 6 months ago because full time work was making me a very frustrated artist! I would use up all my leave just taking days off to be creative! Something had to give – my sanity or my income – and I chose income. I am very happy now. Poor but sane. I do have a very supportive partner who has allowed me to fulfill this dream – I now just need to prove to him it could just bring in the bread and butter too.

Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
I remember being put in a special Friday afternoon art club at primary school because they knew how much I enjoyed art. They must have spotted some young talent! I don't actually remember making much art on those afternoons though....I just remember being a bit afraid of the teacher, and when I stupidly sucked the paint up the straw a bit too far. Birthday and Christmas presents would always be art related like those copper plates you scratch away at, jigsaw puzzles, paint by numbers etc. I have always followed the route of art. It is my calling.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
It was all a friend's fault. When I went part time at work I had no actual aim to become a selling artist quite so soon. I just wanted to spend my free time making artwork and then wander round the streets trying to find someone who wanted to buy it, or build my portfolio and get myself an agent. Then a friend introduced me to Etsy and it is my new-found motivation! I am addicted. I realised I could actually make art and have an outlet to sell immediately, and make money and live happily ever after. So thanks to alphabettispaghetti for giving me a focus.

How did you choose the name for your business?
At college my art teacher used to call my work 'quirky' and I liked the word so it stuck. Artquirk just sounds like artwork and that's what I do! I am thinking about having another Etsy shop called "aartwerk" to divide my different styles. I like a play on words. My ladybird logo I use for luck. A friend and I started buying/making each other anything to do with ladybirds and it stuck. Now everyone buys me ladybird things and I reckon it's been lucky.

What do you love most about your work?
I have two styles of work really – the bright, simple and childlike versus the darker, more considered, more detailed work. It's cheery and fun or gloomy and sinister depending on my mood. I'm liking the dark side more at the moment. And I like my sketches! I sometimes start with a nice sketch and then ruin it by colouring it in! I think I have a nice quality of line in my drawings at least that's what I'm aiming for. I also love those happy accidents – those blobs of ink that fall just where you don't want them to but actually make it better.

What's the most fascinating place you've been?
Ooooo a toughy. Erm...well I've been to The Eden Project, the Millennium Seedbank (nature is a marvel), Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, Jewish Cemetary in Prague, Monkey World, stayed in a Mongolian yurt on Bodmin Moor and a 1965 Airstream trailer on the Isle of Wight, Dover Castle caves ... they were all very fascinating! If my artwork says anything, it's that I can find something fascinating in the most mundane of places.

A book you love:
Can I have a few please as I am a library assistant?! I got into H.G. Wells a while ago – I really liked his Ann Veronica. It's not sci-fi or a classic but it reminded me of me! Also The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is brilliant but made me cry. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Proverbs is always in my artroom too because it always inspires me.

What is the most interesting thing about you?
I'm forever 6 years old, as that was the age I began to get the birthday blues. I like to move around a lot (14 homes in 27 years). I can say the alphabet backwards. My pet rats are more interesting that me.

What achievement are you most proud of?
Selling my first piece of artwork which wasn't to a person I know or I'm related to! In fact, at the age of 27 I am proud to be taking the first leap into fulfilling my dreams.

What do you love to do in your free time?
Go walking especially in the woods, watch films especially scary ones, drink especially vodka or tequila ones, read, smoke because I like to be a social reject, grow flowers, regress to childhood, play boardgames, play poker, plan for holidays, explore, rant politics with my loved one and snooze and dream.

What are you working on right now?
Looking for a house to buy is a big distraction at the moment but I feel a series of fairytale illustrations coming on and something to do with proverbs in between nosing round other people's houses. Maybe I will find inspiration poking around their homes.... !

What do you hope to achieve next?
In the short term a cracking portfolio and an agent and my own web site (n.b. must book course). Then in the long term job offers, reputation, brilliant artwork, retirement, running a campsite, then building my own home, living abroad half the year and pretty much art to the end.


  1. I just love your row of houses, they are gorgeous! Great work.

  2. Excellent work, I shall be looking at your work at etsy with interest. Good luck with the sales.

  3. Alphabetti SpaghettiApril 15, 2007 at 1:47 PM

    Well done on getting this far. Best of luck with the rest!

  4. your work inspires me. I do watercolor & ink too. Don't u just love it?