Project 13: Your Craft Or Illustration Sensation Is...

Intro Deck: 

InStyle’s Project 13 Craft Or Illustration Sensation does a daunting (but dream) job

When was the last time you made something with your hands? Most of us have a pile of old clothes we promise we’ll fix one day, a chair that we honestly will re-upholster and a Pinterest board full of crafting hacks that we really, really do want to try out. Our Craft Or Illustration Sensation winner put their passion into practice - get to know her here...

Miss Magpie Spy
Niki Groom fills her feed with painterly fashion and beauty illustrations, turning catwalk shots and street style snaps into works of art. Working with watercolour paints, markers and ink, Niki uses her Instagram page as a curated collage of her illustrations, and often shares videos of her work-in-process. She’s on Snapchat too, as well as being part of part of the LIL live illustration collective.

Being a fashion illustrator is a dream job – did you ever think you could do it full-time?
No! I remember a time where there were no illustrations in fashion magazines, and then it was only digital illustrations. I do use Photoshop, but for me, I have to put pencil to paper.  

Why did you start posting your illustrations to Instagram?
I’d had a gap of over 10 years where I was still drawing but nobody had seen my work, and I wanted to start illustrating again. I posted some illustrations of Paris Fashion Week on Instagram, and things snowballed from there. I started using Instagram as a gallery to showcase my work, and then was contacted by brands like Accessorize and Clinique, who I did live illustration for.


Is live illustration as scary as it sounds?
I’ve always found it fine! I’m confident in my drawing style and I’ll happily sit for hours with people watching over my shoulder. There have been times where there have been queues around the block, but I’m just in my own little world.

Do you illustrate straight from the catwalk?
A catwalk show is great, but it lasts for minutes and you can only capture a certain amount. I love being on my own in a room and I see images come through on social media. I feel more creative when I’m in that kind of space, and I can be covered in paint and ink! 


Is Instagram encouraging more people to try illustration?
I think it is, but I should say that only having turned 40 have I got enough experience to be doing it full-time. It’s very hard to make a living as a fashion illustrator and there’s not room for many people, you have to do other things on the side.

What would you be doing if you weren’t illustrating?
Until the beginning of this year I was doing fashion design, so I’d still be designing. Maybe I’d find a way of mixing the two and do an illustrated range of clothing. 

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since you started using Instagram?
The projects. I draw quite small, and to see my drawings blown up to the size of a wall is exciting.

What was it like on the InStyle winners’ shoot?
I was nervous because I’m never normally in front of the camera! I didn’t think I’d be lying on a hot roof in a coat with nothing underneath, but I loved it.

Images: LUKE + NIK

To see all the Project 13 categories and to vote for your winners, click here

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