This week I’m interviewing someone who I’ve been trying to persuade to come on my blog for some time, the artist Nemki, who is actually my daugher Naomi King.

Welcome to my blog, Naomi! Can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?
I’ve been drawing my whole life and was always torn between being an artist and a biologist. Having maths dyslexia (which is a thing), I couldn’t get high enough marks to go down the biology path, so studied graphic design and then illustration at university. Wanting to do something different than book illustration, I started making art on products such as bags, clothes and mugs. I made them in my studio alongside my other jobs, sold them at stalls and eventually started selling online on shops such as Etsy. I’ve almost completed a postgraduate course in art history and am now lucky enough to be a full-time artist and designer, which still shocks me.

Axotyl mug

Quokka notebook



What sort of illustrations do you like to draw?
I’ve always preferred to draw animals because I love them and like to try and capture their personalities. I get bored when I draw anything else, so I’ve decided to just go with it now and stick to drawing animals rather than people, landscapes or anything else. I like to draw silly cartoons, which you see on Nemki, but I also love to draw realistically, which I’m going to focus on more in the near future.

What was the first illustration you had published/sold?
When I was about 4 I had my first illustration published in the My Little Pony magazine. I still have a copy of it. I drew my favourite pony, Gypsy. It was my proudest moment.
Oh yes, I remember that!

Can you tell us what you like most about illustrating?
I have one of those brains that thinks too much and is easily distracted. Illustration is quite meditative for me. I get very focused, and when I’m drawing with an audiobook or a TV show in the background it’s the most wonderful calm, happy feeling. I also love it when I finish creating something and people seem to like it, I need the validation.

You’ve done so many illustrations, which one are you most proud of?
I drew a tiger using just tiny dots of ink a couple of years ago. It didn’t sell very well as its not as commercial as some of my other things, but it was very ‘me’, it was in a realistic style and really intricate. It felt like an evolution of the hundreds of pencil sketches of animals I’d done as a kid. I’d never felt such happiness creating that, and now when I look at it I feel so pleased at the level of realism I was able to achieve. I want to explore more in this style in the future.

It’s a beautiful picture, I can see why you’re proud of it. What designs are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished a capybara design, which I’ve wanted to do for ages, and am racing through a little list I have.

How can we get hold of your goods?
You can buy on Etsy, Redbubble and Society6.

What artist do you admire most?
I think Picasso. I never would have said that until I went to see his museum in Barcelona last year and realised the journey he had been on. There was this one exercise he did where he was trying to find his style and recreated a famous old painting in about twenty new ways until he found one he was happy with. Before that moment I guess I thought it was meant to be easy and intuitive, finding your art style, but Picasso showed me the reality of the hard work and trial-and-error behind every successful artist.

You’re obviously very busy with your artwork. What do you like to do to relax?
Yoga is the number one thing that helps me relax. It’s like magic. I have no idea how it works but it just does. I also like to go outside in nature on little hikes, travel, if its bad weather I basically just sit and eat. I love eating.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
People always find it surprising that I love rats and snails so much, as I’m quite a girly girl. I absolutely adore them. As a kid I would collect snails and keep them as pets in little tanks in the garden, and read about what food they liked to eat in books so I could find it for them. I also used to keep grasshoppers, ladybirds and even spiders, and had a sort of insect hospital where I tried to rescue ones that looked like they needed some extra care. I got my first pet rat when I was 14 and instantly fell in love with how intelligent and playful they are. I love all animals but I guess I get drawn to the more misunderstood ones.
Yes. I remember all the creepy-crawlies you kept! Especially the spider in the shoebox under the bed ….

You’ve got quite a reputation as an artist now, with over 3,000 sales on Etsy alone. What’s your top tip for new illustrators?
Find a niche. When people first start out sometimes they are told to show the scope of what they can do and to master lots of different subjects and styles, but the market is so big you’ll just get nowhere and look like you don’t know who you are yet. Practise until you find a subject and style you enjoy and just keep creating. Get yourself a niche and find the people who like your work, and focus on catering to them. It can get really stressful making money through art so don’t be scared to have another job alongside while you figure it out, I spent my twenties in cafes and shops while I tried to decide what direction I wanted to take in art because I wanted to get it right.

Great tip! You certainly seem to have found your niche, your detailed illustrations are very popular both on the items you sell and as wallpaper. Let’s take a look at a few more of your designs.

You can contact Nemki here:
Facebook page
Instagram @hellonemki
Twitter @nemkistudio
Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your lovely work with us, Naomi.