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Niki Pilkington


A few months ago a total stranger called Liam reached out (getting emails from strangers is obviously nothing new, but there was something particularly special about this email). Liam explained in great lengths that his girlfriend Emily had been a big fan of my work for years but had never had the opportunity to own an original. 

He said that so many of my pieces reminded him of her & he had a big question to ask & needed my help. Liam was ready to propose to Emily 💍..& guys, he wanted one of my pictures to do it with!! *gasp*

I obviously jumped at this special opportunity & got to work on a piece just for them. They’re both vets so we went with an animal theme & a cute quote chosen by Liam...


I’ve been eagerly awaiting the news of how it went & guess what?!?..

💫 She said YES! 💫

His beautiful girlfriend is now his fiancé! She was crazy in love with the piece &

I’m so honored to have been a part of such a special moment 🙏🏼



Niki Pilkington




Watercolour paper - Any kind will do - I’ve used @strathmore watercolor paper.

Pencils - For sketching your design - any will do, but I use @Derwent graphite pencils.

Watercolours - Again, you can use any kind of watercolors for this - just use your fave color combination (I chose four colours in total including black). I used a mixture of my old faves, a combination of a few brands,

Paint brushes - A medium one & a fine one for the last details.

White paint - I used white acrylic.

Watercolour salt - You can find this at most art supply shops.


Put on some festive music on (Mariah Carey obvs..) Draft out your design lightly in pencil.



Wet your design thoroughly & working quickly dot on your first colour choice - this will help it spread easily. Clean your brush.



Dot on your second colour in the gaps, leaving enough gaps for the third colour - you shouldn’t need much more water at this stage. Clean your brush again.



Dot on your third colour in the last few empty spaces, don’t worry if it doesn’t all reach the edges of your design, you can tidy it up in the last stage..



Add the final colour - I chose black to make the colours pop (if you use black, make sure it’s the last colour you add so it stays neat & doesn’t muddy up the other colours). Use this final stage to tidy up the design. Go in with a wet brush and spread the colours out to the edges of you design to define it a bit more.



Sprinkle watercolour salt over the design whilst it’s still wet. Leave it to dry completely & then brush it off.



Once your design is all dry & your brushed off all the salt, dot on a few white dots in acrylic.



I hope you enjoyed this tutorial - if you decide to make your own tiny festive raindeer, I’d love to see - tag me on facebook & instagram so I can have a peep!

Let me know what you think in a comment below & as always please tell me what tutorial you’d like me to do next. Happy holidays everyone!!



Niki Pilkington


You guys have been asking for tutorials FOREVER, so I’m finally getting to it. My goal is to start doing these as vlogs so you can watch and join in at the same time, but until I figure all that out, here’s a video of me pantingly pumpkin, with all the steps & what you need below.

My new nails are by the wonderful @DIMENAILS_LA | Music:


A pumpkin - I went for an organic one to do my bit, but any pumpkin works. Try to choose one that’s as smooth and round as possible, that will make decorating it so much easier.

Various paint brushes - A wide one for the white paint and finer ones for the detail.

White paint - I used a Matt water-based emulsion - this is an inexpensive paint that you’ve probably already got in your DIY cupboard and being water-based any splashes or spills are easy to clean up. If you want to keep it earth friendly too, I used @Earthbornpaints Ecopro Matt emulsion in white.

A plastic sheet - Again let’s think of the planet, I cut open a plastic bag from some packaging I’d received and it had a tear in it so was already destined for the bin. (You can use old newspaper too, but I like that if you drip bits of paint on plastic, you can just brush them up with no waste)

Paper & pencil - For sketching your design

A plinth - You can use anything for this - you just need something to raise your pumpkin so you can get maximum paint coverage and have it at a nice working height. I used a @poppin silicone pencil holder - that way when I moved it round the silicone didn’t scratch off the paint. If you use a jar or something tough like that, try putting a little piece of paper or tissue in-between to protect the painted areas.

Coloured Paint - I think most paints will work well on the Matt service of the emulsion, but I used Acryla Gouache paints. Acrylic paints would probably work just as well.

Glitter & PVA glue - Any type you like. I went for a chunky gold & regular non toxic PVA.

Varnish - Optional. I decided not to varnish mine because I liked the Matt finish and this wasn’t going to go outside so it didn’t need extra protection, but you could totally varnish it if you wanted to seal all that fun in there.


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Place the pumpkin on your plastic sheet & paint the bottom. Let it dry, then set it on your plinth and get painting the rest of it.

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Once that first coat has dried, give it a second coat so it’s nice and smooth (don’t worry about giving the bottom a second coat, you won’t see that anyway).


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Whilst you’re waiting for the pumpkin to dry completely, draft out your design. I chose the same colour for each design (so for example all the bats were purple) this makes your life a bit easier when it comes to getting a balanced pattern.


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Once you’re happy with your design and your pumpkin is nice and dry, get to work. I painted one element at a time, so all of the bats, then all of the eyes etc. This way you can make sure that they’re all spaced out nicely.


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Aaaand repeat. The advantage of having it on your little plinth means you can rotate it round until you’re happy and you don’t have to keep lifting it.


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Add all the black details and finishing touches on last, making sure that they’re well balanced and neat - you can be a bit messy with the colours, but try to be precise with the black, as this is what will stand out the most.


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Glitter time! Once you design is dry, add a layer of PVA to the stem but be really careful to just get it where you want it to stay. Then mix PVA with glitter for a thick tacky coat again being extra careful not to go on the pumpkin itself. Then when you’re happy it’s all covered, pop the pumpkin on its side on your plinth (or ask someone to hold it on its side so they can rotate it for you) and sprinkle more glitter over the PVA area. Don’t worry if this gets a bit messy, just use a dry brush to get rid of unwanted glitter. (although no glitter is ever unwanted in my opinion).

Alternatively you can leave out this step if it’s not for you - you can simply paint the stem another colour, but I think the glitter is what makes this pumpkin pop, so get crafty.


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Ta daaaaaa. Ok so now you’re ready to show off you’re extra special pumpkin. (You can add an optional layer of varnish here, but that’s not necessary if you’re displaying your pumpkin inside).

I hope you enjoyed this! if you give this a go, please tag me in your photos so I can see @nikipilkington.

And let me know in a comment below or on Instagram if you have any questions, I’m here to help!

What tutorial should I do next? Let me know!



Niki Pilkington

I wanted to talk to you about the importance of trying something new. Now this doesn’t only apply to you if you’re an artist, I really think this applies to pretty much everyone that’s wanting to freshen things up a bit & keep their work / life more interesting.

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I posted this picture last week so I’m going to give you a little backstory. It came from a place where I’d been back in the UK (for a lot longer then planned) getting orders done for my stockists over there (FYI I added a couple of new ones - check out my shop tab to see). I was without access to my materials / studio, nor did I have the time to create new work for the best part of a month - these restocking times are always quite intense. *Don’t get me wrong, I love these times - I LOVE putting orders together & catching up with all my loyal stocksts & getting lots of much needed family time, it’s just not easy to get on with any crafty bits when I’m there because I’m packing prints & fulfilling orders from start to finish* I got back to LA a little lost, with a million ideas running around my head but no clue where to start. I knew I didn’t want to put pencil to paper for a crazy detailed piece, I was feeling too restless for that, so instead I looked for a different kind of canvas, which brought me to my arm!! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed painting this - not only the playful technique of painting like a kid on my skin, but more so the feeling of the unknown, not having a clue what it was going to turn out like. It’s fair to say this won’t be my last body painting experience, think I’ve found the best release for me for the times when I’m feeling stuck. I’m hoping this post will inspire you to find your escape too. Maybe not body paint, but something a little different to the thing that’s making you feel stuck.

The hardest part of social media for me is trying to keep things interesting for my followers (& me!!) & for any newbies that come along, whilst also trying to stay honest & true to my values & what I love. It’s easy to get complacent & keep churning out the same things (especially if they perform well & people enjoy them each time they pop up in their feed), but that just isn’t what i’m in this social media game for. One of the biggest advantages I have being my own boss is that every now & again, when my schedule allows, I get to give something new a go.  

For me, trying something new doesn’t have to necessarily mean drawing something new either. It can be as simple as working from a different place, meeting someone new that does something I’m inspired by, walking a different route home or shopping in a new art store (my personal fave). Any of these things can be enough to light a little fire within me that pushes me in a new direction. A direction that I might only give one shot,  but at least I gave it a shot & learnt something from it along the way. 

I’m not really one for hobbies because I’m crazy lucky to say that my job is my true ‘hobby’ - that’s not to say I don’t enjoy other things out of that, but when people ask ‘what do you do to relax / fun, I’m kind of embarrassed to say, ermmmm drawing! This can also mean it’s difficult to switch off & get caught up in a pretty bad work / life balance. When it comes to my art, my heart lies in drawing girls, all kinds of girls in all kinds of ways, but I step away from this & probably spend 50/50 of my time doing this & trying something new or working on commissions. This (I hope) is what keeps my art looking fresh, but also has my neon stamp on it. It means I’m always excited to get back to drawing what I love, but have the advantage of adding a few other skills to my arty belt. 


So I urge you to give it a go - try something totally new for you. You never know, it might be your new fave. & why not share what you’ve tried out in a comment below so we can all discuss it & give each other suggestions & advice? I’d love to hear what you’re trying out & hope I can learn from you guys too.  

 Thanks for reading & as always, let me know what you’d like me to blog about next



Niki Pilkington





(well me, because I want you to come hang out in my studio).

I've been wanting to get this post up for so long (guess having an intern would have meant this would have got out there a lot quicker eh?!?..) so much has got in the way lately, it's been a bit full on..aaaaand breathe. So I'll get right to it.

I had to intern as part of my degree & I can't begin to tell you how hard it was to find something even close to what I wanted. I knew I wanted it to be something illustration / art based, but most illustrators work from home or small spaces, and no illustrators wanted a stranger in their personal space for weeks on end. I ended up going to a small fashion brand & it was actually pretty fun. I illustrated their lookbook & some other promotional material for fashion week, but it still wasn't the backstage look I wanted into the field I hoped to build a career in, so I'm hoping this opportunity will be something that some of you would find really useful & interesting. This is a chance to get an unedited & personal look into life as an illustrator, all whist helping me as I work on some pretty fun new projects.

I'm on the lookout for an intern (or maybe even a few depending on how things work out) that is wanting to know a bit of everything about what my work entails & not afraid to get stuck in. Please note, this won't just be drinking tea & doodling with me..well maybe sometimes, but instead, think a more insightful crash course into all the components that go into my day to day routine as a self employed artist. 

Although I can't go into crazy detail about what I'd need from you right now (just know it's going to be busy & fun), here's a little list of what I'm looking for in a partner in crime:

-LA based & willing to travel to the Venice / MDR area (I will be looking for Wales based interns next btw).  

-Drawing skills aren't 100% essential, but if you like to draw that definitely helps!!

-You need to like my work - this isn't a egotistical thing! We're going to be working on projects that revolve around my work as a brand, so it's important we're on the same page aesthetic-wise. 

-Basic editing skills. Nothing crazy but the more you can do, the better.

-Photography skills. Again, I'm not looking for an expert, but an eye of nice layouts & an enjoyment of the whole process is important. 

-Availibility can be flexible, my dates aren't set in stone yet - I'll share more of those details once I know who's in & as my deadlines become clearer. It will definitely be weekdays, not weekends.

-And most importantly a nice person to be around. We'd be working closely together, so it's vital that you're a friendly person that is good one on one. No attitudes pretty please.


If you're reading this & thinking 'pick me, pick me' then I'd LOVE to hear from you. Email me with the subject INTERN to & include:

-A bit about you.

-Link to your social media or site if applicable. 

-What your ideal availability would be (number of days a week / total amount of time etc).

Please don't send follow up emails. I promise as soon as I have more details I'll get back to you.

If you have any questions, please leave them below & I'll respond ASAP.

Hope we're drinking tea & doodling together soon



Niki Pilkington

Aloha! Here's the image of all my travel essentials for my Hawaii trip but with numbers - see below for what they are, where they're from & why they'll be coming with me on the trip.


1. Sweeties - no explanation needed, duh. But real talk, boiled sweets are not my jam (but @JohnnyBudden picked these up for me on a trip to Japan & they matched the theme they are). My real go-to travel snacks are nuts, fruit & who can say no to those tiny pretzels they hand out on the plane?

2. Travel skin is so yucky - So whether I use it on the flight or when I get to the hotel, I love a good face mask & these @MaryKayusa TimeWise Repair Lifting Bio-Cellulose Masks are perfect.

3. These tassel earrings from @befashionest though..

4. The main reason I’m jetting off to Hawaii is for the wedding of two of the loveliest people I know. Nicky & Andrew, I can not wait to celebrate your special day with you. How pretty is their invite by the way?!

5. Looky look, it’s @tanyawhitebits self tan mousse in regular & travel size. I’m the creative director of this wonderful brand (peep my illustration on the bottles) but I honestly do take this mobile glow on all my trips. I usually apply the day before traveling & then take enough to reapply on the go.

6. @lovephilosophy dry shampoo is a must (see number 24 for more from this fab brand).

7. I’m a crazy list maker, so I never leave home without my @poppin notebook. 

8. This bikini by @velvetsphynx is going straight in my hand luggage because nothing’s getting in the way of me & the pool!

9. I carry a reusable straw with me wherever I go - it’s one of the many little things I’m doing to try to help the planet. Also, bringing out your own straw at a bar kind of makes a bigger statement then just asking for no straw, so I feel like it’s a conversation starter with people around you & helps raise a little awareness.

10. Because who doesn’t want a mini bottle of bubbly to kick off your vacay? Cheers @onehope

11. Pens pens pens. Between me & you, this is only a tiny selection of what I’m really taking. Pictured is my gold mechanical pencil by @poppin - I love mechanical pencils when I travel because they take away all the mess of sharpening & the worry of the dreaded pencil drop when you know that sucker has snapped the whole way up the barrel.

12. Setting off all the alarms going through security with these @julievos pieces, so worth it though.

13. @Trussnyc bags are everything. As well as looking damn cool, these coated woven bags are perfect for traveling because they’re impossible to get dirty when you have to shove them under the seat in front of you.

14. This print will be available in my shop very soon! 

15. Romper by @ASOS

16. Arriving rested is easy thanks to my @slipsilkpillowcase travel pillow & sleep mask. I first found out about Slip when my hair was so damaged & I didn’t know what to do. I bought one of their pillow cases & I swear my hair (and skin) started to feel better right away. If you’ve not heard about the benefits of a silk pillowcase, look them up! (They do all types of cute colours too).

17. Ok so this is the healthy half of my snacks.

18. Phone case by @valfre

19. This smells divine (good enough to not coat yourself in all the duty free tester perfumes). It’s called Amazing Grace by @philosophy.

20. Like I mentioned, my hair has been so damaged from all the years of coloring & styling. I can’t stress just how much I love every @randco product. And..hello neon!!

21. More essentials from @marykayusa. I’m freckly

22. Because I don’t even put the trash out without lipstick on. 

23. Guys, airplane floors are yucky. If you’re going to take your shoes off like I do, make sure you have a cute pair of socks to hand. These are by @livingroyal

24. Ok so I’ve only just found out about @lovephilosophy (I know, where have I been?) & I’m honestly in love. I’m packing some tinted moisturizer gel cream for when I don’t want to wear makeup, and the two tubes are liquid highlighting drops & full coverage concealer which I can’t wait to get stuck into.. I've also been using their retinol cream, so I'm loving it. I'll do a proper post on these soon & let you know what I think of everything.

25. Passport should really be number one I guess..

26. If these shades by @sunniestudios don't say Hawaii, then I don’t know what do.

27. Camera. Because, memories (& I never get round to printing off my digital pictures).

28. The 5 step plan by @arconalosangeles saved my skin when I moved to LA & got terrible breakouts. This little duo is perfect for keeping up with my routine whilst I’m away.

29. Comfy, cute & neon - hello @billblass.

If you have questions about any of these pieces, (or just any questions in general really!!) leave a comment below & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible


An interview with exceptional alien

Niki Pilkington

I was just interviewed for the brilliant & binge-read worthy  ‘Exceptional alien’ site, so I thought I’d share a link because you guys are always asking for a little more info on my day to day / inspiration etc.

Click HERE to read the whole interview & whilst you’re there I’d highly recommend having a little read of some of the other interviews - massively honored to be up there amoung such talented humans. If you’re in LA or planning to visit there’s some great & often super secret insider tips & recommendations for all kinds of stuff on there too.

If you have any other questions that you'd like to ask, leave them in a comment below & I'll get them covered ASAP. Enjoy!



Niki Pilkington

Guys, I have some exciting news for you - I’m officially the creative director of the wonderful brand @tanyawhitebits. So here's how it happened & a little about what you should expect to see over the next few months..


I’ve tried a lot of fake tans in my time (& had more orange disasters then I care to think about). I’m naturally pretty pale & very freckley so I’ve always been scared of ‘naturally’ tanning - plus I don’t really enjoy lying in the sun, I find it a bit clammy & uncomfortable, so always slap on factor 50 day-to-day but keep my skin looking golden with a little extra help from a bottle.

So when Tanya Whitebits founder, Shoned (a long time friend & super woman entrepreneur) reached out about about creating the artwork for her ‘Tanya Whitebits’ products, I jumped at the chance. As a fellow Welshie supporter I’d already tried & loved the tan, so I needed no convincing on the product & was excited about the challenge of rebranding this cracking brand she’d built from the ground up. She'd commissioned artwork very early on, which doubled as a logo & labels for the bottles, but knew it was only a matter of time that the packaging would all need to be changed to reflect the wonderful product inside.

First job was the logo. I've done lots of layout / typography work, so was keen to help out here, as I knew a great logo was important to compliment the artwork I was going be creating. We worked together with an agency (shoutout to View Creative) to create the new logo (above) then after countless meetings & cups of tea, we quickly realized that this was more than just a ‘new packaging' job for me to get involved with. We both had the same vision going forward & it was simply too much for Shoned to undertake alone - she was the brains behind the product but would be the first to admit the the visual side wasn't her strong suit, that's where I came in. So we decided that as well as creating the illustrations for all the products, I would also be the person to oversee the visuals of the brand - so voila, here I am, Niki Pilkington, creative director!

I’m so incredibly excited to finally be able to tell you all about this. It's my first time doing something like this, so it's going to be a fun journey for sure & one I'll be updating you on regularly (for all you others wanting to do similar things - hopefully I can share helpful tips that guide you in the right direction). Right now we've just released this palm tree design (see below) which you'll see on the self tan mousse bottles & all the other artwork I've been working hard on behind the scenes will be heading your way very soon.

TWB 1 WIP.jpg

I’m so madly in love with this product & honestly believe it’s the best fake tan I’ve ever used. (It’s vegan friendly, contains organic ingredients & paraben, cruelty & alcohol free!) & gives you that gorgeous bronze glow without the nasty smell & residue of other competitors. I hope you guys love what we start releasing over the coming weeks (new products, new packaging, events, tips & tricks for the perfect tan). You can watch our progress on @tanyawhitebits & Facebook/ Why not come by & say hi & let us know what you think of the new look?! We'd love to hear your thoughts. Right now it’s only available to purchase in the UK, but orders are better then we could have ever imagined so I’m sure we’ll be selling worldwide in no time.

Can't wait to share our journey with you on both @TanyaWhitebits & my page @NikiPilkington

(PS. Our brand new website is launching very soon - we're just adding the last finishing touches to make it extra sparkly & perfect - I'll add the link here once it's up)




Niki Pilkington

Hey guys! I came up with this quote & created this piece for one purpose & that was to try to highlight something which plays on my mind every time I share new work on social media. That is the scary yet inevitable reality that if you're doing something right, copycats won't be far behind.


This isn't just in illustration, it comes in all shapes & forms, in all industries. I can only talk from personal experience in the art world, but I'm sure it's just as gut wrenching in all fields.

So you work tirelessly at something, pour your heart & soul into it, put it out there in to the universe only to find someone else swoops in, tweaks it a little & gets all the glory. I can't even begin to tell you how many times this has happened to me in my career & I'll be honest, it never gets easier, but you do begin to develop a bit of thick skin over time, where instead of shutting yourself in the bathroom sobbing, you let it wash over you *sort of* & learn from it.

So I guess I just wanted to chat about how I handle it.

You have a couple of options really.

-Create, create, create & keep it all to yourself *that's a shame though, we want to see what you're creating please*.

-You can then go lengthy & costly route of getting everything copy written, but honestly who has the time or money for that? Lets be real, not everything you put out there is something you plan to make money from, lots is for the aesthetic & the love of doing it, you just don't want someone else to rip it off.

-Or your other option is to put everything out there, make yourself vulnerable to all the copycats, but also have the luxury of getting to share what you love with the world, be visible to clients & make some lovely follower friends along the way. That's the option I went with. 

So having a great social presence with thousands of steadfast followers is incredible & something I'm forever grateful for. As well as having your own personal cheerleaders when you need them the most, it also means having thousands of loyal eyes out there scanning for art thiefs, so the most common way I get alerted to copycats is through you (thank you!!). I'm either DM'd, emailed or tagged in a comment by you pointing out that my image has been copied or simply shared without crediting me & I appreciate it so much, because this usually gets them to credit me accordingly, or the person that's copied me realizes they've been busted so they take the image down. But I have to be honest, as much as I appreciate people taking time out of their day to alert me to it, I still get a sinking feeling when I see them. Art crosses over so much now & it's so easy for people to be 'inspired' by someone else, sometimes even without even being aware of it, all they really have to do is change a small detail & poooof it's theirs, so to be honest there's no real way of stopping this (in my opinion) & in some sense, nothing is ever really new now, we all find inspiration from each other, so even accidental imitation happens to all of us.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE it when someone gets in touch to tell me they 'recreated' one of my pieces for their art homework, or that they picked up a paintbrush because they saw something of mine & it made them want to create. That makes me the happiest & this isn't about you AT ALL, I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart. This is more about big brands or creatives stealing for their own personal gain, something I see time & time again with not only myself, but with countless individuals who's talents I appreciate massively.

I do still get nervous posting new things that I'm extra precious about, knowing that they could be reproduced in a heart beat, but I've weighed it up over the years & the mantra of 'if their copying you, you're doing something right' although painful, is a necessary evil in this disposable, fast-paced world we live in.

I've convinced myself not to become too consumed over single designs or pieces. I prefer to look at the bigger picture & try to remember that I can keep coming up with these ideas, the copycats will just keep copying with no real unique content. (well that's what Johnny's told me when I've been sobbing in the bathroom anyway!) 

I want to give you an example.  A few years ago I painted this map:


No, I wasn't the first person to paint a world map, not by a long shot, but it was the first I'd seen of its kind when I made it (the colors, the layout, the flatlay on a desk etc) & now theres thousands out there. I foolishly posted this image without a watermark - it went viral *yey* but that also meant that it was shared millions of times all over the place with absolutely no credit to me. Most cases were accidental because they'd see it somewhere without credit & just reposted it & if I flagged it with them, some would graciously tag me, but for the most part they'd just ignore my comments / DM's & move on to the next post. This was a big lesson for me & still is (it still pops up in 'recommended images' for me on sites, where theres no sign of the artist *please stop cookies, I don't want to see it anymore!*). A popular blogger posted a 'how to' video of my world map a couple of weeks after I shared it. She credited me on her blog saying my map was totally where she got 100% of her inspiration, bit didn't do the same on her on her Instagram, so I even started getting 'haters' from her following attacking me saying I'd copied her - she did clear it all up in the end, but it was too little too late & a nasty few days that I'd never like to go through again..I now put a tiny opaque logo on my illustrations (I wonder if you've ever noticed?) - I know these could be photoshopped out in a heartbeat, but I figure at least I've done my bit to stop them without taking away from the artwork itself & lets be honest, if they want to go to those lengths, then that's their own crazy problem. 

After this I started creating more maps of countries in the same style & yep the same thing happened & still does. Occasionally I'd get 'inspired by Niki Pilkington' which I love (melts my heart to know my work has inspired someone to create), but when it's a blatant copy of any of my pieces with no nod to my work it's always a bit gut wrenching. They say 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' but it doesn't always feel that way.

So I guess I just wanted to write a quick blog post to let you know that it is a thing, it happens a lot & if you're ever in the same position, don't let it consume you (believe me, it consumed me for a while). Know that you came up with that idea & you can keep coming up with more. Sure it sucks that someone is getting credit for your work or even making money from it, but just keep moving forward & keep doing what you're doing. Create a style that you want to be known for & own that aesthetic. Your true fans will appreciate you for it & you'll be a happier person if you can just rise above it.


Can you relate to this? I'd love to know your thoughts below & any tricks you have to keep your work safe & sound. Also don't forget, if you have a topic you'd like me to post about, comment on this post on my Instagram - I'd love to keep hearing your suggestions (I'll get through them all I promise!)



Niki Pilkington

I've been asking you to comment on Instagram with topics you'd like me to cover & one that keeps popping up is how I actually get clients or get the opportunity to work with brands, so I thought I'd give you a little insight. Theres definitely no clear cut answer - all my clients, past, present & upcoming all come from very different routes, but I'll try my best to cover most of the routes I take in order to get new work.

Reputation / Referral

I often get new clients based on my relationship / work with past clients, where I've been referred through them or they've seen the work we've done together & want me on board with something they're working on. Keeping up a good relationship with past clients is always a great practice - firstly because its always good to be professional & a nice person to work with, but also because they like to work with people they can rely on to get the job done on time & to the very highest standard they expect. Reputation is so important, so I always keep things as professional as possible & treat everyone I work with, no matter their position or role, with the respect that they deserve.

Agencies / Online

I work with a number of agencies, some I've been on the books with for years which are more traditional 'art' agencies, some total newbies who cover more general 'content creation'. Since I've started this career, there's been a massive change in the way artists are represented, It used to be much more specific - if you're an illustrator you'd be signed to art / illustration agencies, who would have a digital portfolio on you which they'd showcase to clients & you wouldn't have much input until you were selected for jobs. But now, for me at least, as a creative that’s working on not only 'art' but also content creation, influencer / marketing opportunities, lifestyle & fashion, it's a bit more complex. The sheer volume of online 'influencer' agencies out there is crazy, so I try to sign up to new platforms whenever I can, so I'm as visible as possible on a wide variety of platforms. Most are either invite only or need approval before you can sign up for jobs, but for the most part, they work the same. You create a profile & link your social accounts. From there they can either pitch you to clients for specific opportunities or you can request to be a part of campaigns you think work for you. These have been a great source of income for me but I'm quite selective & only go for opportunities I know are right for me, my followers & the message I want to portray through my work. Yes I could get paid $800 to feature a new brand of protein powder, but would you really want to hear about that from me? No, I don't think so, so although it's tempting to say yes to the 'easy' money when it comes to promoting brands, I want you as my followers to trust me & know that the things I talk abut are my true feelings & opinions. 

Exhibitions / Galleries / Prints

I have an online shop where I sell prints (HERE) & I've been exhibiting my work in galleries since I graduated (see my recent post on how I started out) & this still proves to be a great source of new client opportunities. Yes it's more labor intensive but there's something so satisfying about getting an email from someone that saw my work in a gallery or was sent a print from a friend and they loved it so much that they want to hire me to create artwork for them/their brand. It's amazing how far my prints have gone around the world & they always seem to get me extra work one way or another. (shout out to each and ever person who's bought my prints and originals!!) 

Social media  

Like most industries, social media has massively changed the nature of being a freelance illustrator. It can be both a wonderful tool to get your work out there to millions of people instantly, but it can also be an extra pressure (the need to be posting frequently, updating all platforms, keeping engagement up there, not to mention making sure that the content I put out there is what I enjoy creating & in line with what I want to say..urgh the stress of it all!!) but at the same time it's a huge 'idea stealing' worm hole (don't even get me started - I'll be posting about this soon too). I can't diss it too much though - social media has been a massive help for me. I can now instantly reach clients directly and visa versa, as well as having a portable 'portfolio' when I meet potential clients & making 'connections' in my field has never been so accessible. So gaining new clients through social media is pretty straight forward. It usually starts with them reaching out (usually via DM or emailing saying that they've seen my pages) & then we take it from there. It's great because they've usually seen previous work I've produced so come to me with a pitch or project they'd like me to be a part of.

The old fashioned way

I have a never-ending list of dream clients that I'd love to work with & you should always have 100% confidence in what you do to be able to reach out to them & tell them how you feel. Yes it comes with rejection & disappointment from time to time, but when it pays off & that love is mutual, it's the best feeling. The very worst they can say is 'thank you, but no thank you' (or just no reply at all..rude I know, but..?) so knowing that, what do yo have to lose?

3blog niki pilkington.jpg

Actual footage of me emailing clients out & about.


..ok jokes, I think I was googling brunch spots.

I hope that clears up some of the haze of finding work doing what you love. Please let me know what you think below & let me know if I've missed anything. As always I'd love you to keep sending your topic suggestions via instagram (just leave a comment in my most recent post telling me what you'd like to read about)..

Thanks for reading lovelies



Niki Pilkington

This is definitely not a self portrait.

I 100% hate lying in bed. I know I’m not alone here, right? My whole family are the same, so maybe it's a genetic/in-built habit type of thing? Or maybe because I see my home as my office too? Whatever it is, I just have an incredible feeling of guilt if I stay in bed. It isn't relaxing for me, my head is like, 'hey get up, you've got sh*t to do girl!!' So as much as I've tried to do it, when I know I've not had enough sleep, it just doesn't work for me. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that I don't procrastinate during the day, being your own boss is *tough* & takes a lot of discipline to avoid distractions & get down to it, but lying in bed is just not my thing. 
Lots of you have been asking about my daily routine as a freelance illustrator & how I balance the whole work/life thing, so I thought I’d write a post about how I manage my days working from home.


Although no two days are ever the same for me, I try to stick to as much of a routine as possible to maintain some kind of structure to my work week. It’s taken a long time for me to find the perfect balance (& believe me, I’m still working on it) but at the moment this is what’s working for me.

I'm a fanatic list maker (or maybe unhealthy list maker - you decide..) so I've created a check list of the important components of my day & broken them up into time increments, so that although I don’t have to keep them in the same order, I cross each one off as I do it & keep track of what needs to get done. This way, nothing gets forgotten or neglected. Working with clients in different time zones & juggling multiple projects means my schedule needs to be flexible, so although in an ideal work world I like to start each day by tackling emails, sometimes they have to be set aside whilst I take/edit photos or finish drawing something. This list makes it easy for me to do that:


(starting with the most important ones / ones I don't want to tackle first, that makes it easier as I go along)


(usually a gym session, or a class when I have a little more time)


(I like to be able to visualize all the notes & ideas I scribble down during the day, so these are very rough, but frees up my mind to know they're all in one place)


(Food & usually a sneaky social media catch up & phone call with my Mum - which I always do at least once a day)


(this where I do any final edits to my images, finalize the copy, share it on all my channels & respond to any immediate comments or questions)


(I break this up into 4 x 1HR increments so if I spend 2HRS drawing, I have 2HRS to spend taking photos & editing..I always go over this time allowance, but I try my best to stick to it whenever possible)


(eeeeek I'm so excited to tell you more about this one, but for now let's just say I'm working on something extra special)


(this is where I develop ideas for new posts, blog subjects, work on brand collaboration concepts, plan shoots etc)


(I like to have bit of extra time to respond to any important emails that have come in throughout the day - sometimes I can't leave them until now & I do the occasional email during the day, but I try to leave them alone as much as possible so I'm not distracted from other tasks)

I know this adds up to 11.5 HRS, which is a long work day, but like I said, it's flexible, and who ever finishes their whole to-do list everyday right?..(plus 2 hours are gym & lunch break, so those don't really count.)


So like I said, every day is different depending on what I'm working on, so here are some of the many other work commitments that effect my schedule & I have to work around:






I try to always take the weekends off (aside from the occasional shoot, nagging email or post on social). It feels weird enough to be solo most of the work week, so I try to get in as much fun time as possible at the end of each week. Work - life balance is so important guys!  

I know a lot of you wanted to know about my day because you're either in the same industry / work from home / studying right now & looking to go freelance, so I hope this helps a little bit. There really is no 'one size fits all' answer to cracking the challenge of working from home, but I'm trying my best to do it right & if this is helpful let me know & I'll keep you posted on any changes I make to this list / hacks as I keep perfecting it.  

Please leave a comment below if I've missed anything out or you have any questions. I'd love to know if you're enjoying these kinds of posts & as always head to my Instagram & comment on my latest post if you have a topic you'd like me to cover.

Like the watch in this post? Use code NIKI for 15% off @DanielWellington watches (& it includes a free strap too!) Valid until 4/24






Niki Pilkington


If you follow me on Instagram you’d have seen from my story that I got a new package from R&Co the other day (they always make my day, the packaging is so good - the type of products you have on show in your bathroom, not the stuff you hide away under the sink). So I wanted to do a little review of one of the products they sent me.

(I’d like to point out that they’re not paying me to say this, I just really struggle to find good hair products that work for me, so wanted to share what I can incase any of you have the same issues). 

I tried out their new Acid Wash, ACV Cleansing Rinse & to get straight to the point, I absolutely loved it. It’s essentially a cleanser for your hair & it did just that. I have fine, pretty weak hair & this really made it feel like new again (after all the coloring & straightening, amiright?). You just apply it after your normal routine in the shower, leave it on a few minutes & rinse out..

I wouldn’t use it more than maybe once every two weeks because it made it super shiny (which is a good thing I know) but I like it a little more coarse to add some volume to my baby hair. But it really felt like I was doing some good with this so I can’t wait to add this to my routine. 

High five R&Co 👋🏼 another magical hair product under your belt! 




Niki Pilkington

Yesterday I announced my arrival on the blogging scene & asked you to comment on my instagram with what topics you’d like me to cover, so I’m going to slowly work my way through them. 

First up, @elyijan asked:

“Love your blog so far! 🌸request🌸 Please can you tell us about your journey from quiet wales to the big city? How was it funded and how did you get there! It’s always been my dream to jet off and create art, but I just don’t know how. I would love to hear your story”

So grab yourself a snack, this is going to be a long one..

I’m welsh, I think most of you know that by now. I’m from a quiet but truly beautiful part of the world in North Wales (which I miss every single day). It’s incredible, but I always knew if I wanted to wholeheartedly follow my career goals then I’d need to spread my neon wings *I wish*. I studied art in school, college & art foundation all in Wales (it was always by far my fave subject, so I threw everything into it), then look a leap of faith & went to London to study Fashion Promotion & Illustration at Ravensbourne. That was where I really started to find my own style & learned the ins & outs of the fashion illustration industry - skills I truly believe helped me massively in my career today. Even though social media wasn’t really a thing (I think Facebook came out in my first year of uni..remember taking a digital camera on a night out & uploading basically 60 versions of the same photo? Yep that era) but I learnt about fashion marketing, trend forecasting, how to brand myself & software which I still use to this day. I graduated with a 1st class BA hons degree in 2009. (sorry, I'm including that braggy part just cuz I can. No-one asks me my grades anymore, so here's my one chance, I worked bloody hard for that 1st!!..)

So what’s next? Well basically I fell in love in my final year (shout out to my partner in crime @johnnybudden). We graduated, stayed in London for a year where I worked at the 'Rankin Live' event over the summer, then both moved to Wales for about a year to save some $$$. I worked in a gallery (@orielplasglynyweddw - who have supported me ever since by making me a gallery artist. I still exhibit work there & they stock a ton of my prints). Whilst working there I was starting to build my site & broaden my portfolio & was quickly picked up by a few agencies & started officially creating artwork as a freelance illustrator for brands, magazines, adverts as well as doing some fun live events & exhibitions. It all seemed to happen quite quickly at the time, but looking back, these were lots of illustration jobs I did for free to get my name out there & endless hours of emails & dead ends. Perseverance & hard work is always going to pay off in the end, so if you're in that situation right now, just keep at it. If you love it enough, it will shine through in your work.

Johnny, who at the time was a graphic designer (now a group creative director #proud) was offered a role at an agency in Paris, so because I can more or less work from anywhere, I said ‘I’m in’ & we said bon voyage to Wales.

I spilt my time between Paris & Wales for a couple of years *thanks easyjet for the £29 flights* because I was building a name for myself at home with exhibitions & private commissions & setting up my online shop.  I’m not going to pretend it was all perfect - I found Paris H A R D. I had hardly any friends, couldn’t speak the language & we lived in a teeny weeny apartment that made working from home super challenging. On top of that I was struggling with my own issues & my Dad was slowly being stolen away by the horrible disease that is Alzheimer's (that’s a whole post in itself).

I’d always wanted to live in New York (but who hasn’t, right?) so luckily, after a LOT of paperwork and visa shenanigans, Johnny was able to transfer to his agencies NYC office *yasss* so I said 'I'm in' once again.

(There's a whole year missing here between Paris & New York where Johnny trained like an action hero & ran from John o'groats at the very top of Scotland all the way to Paris - over 2,000 miles & I was the support driver / chef / navigator / nurse / moral bringer. It was all to raise money for Motoneuron Disease.. #proud again, think the total raised was about £15k!)

We got married in Vegas (again, another whole blog post in itself) & had four & a half magical years in New York. Like I said, being freelance really means that I can take my work anywhere so my routine didn’t change a whole heap. It just included a lot more brunch dates now & I had to be super smart with my time to be able to juggle US & UK clients on different time zones.

I was lucky enough to work with some incredible New York / US based brands & agencies & built both work & personal relationships I hope will last a lifetime. Social media really helped at this point, by now the days of calling offices to speak to the ‘talent section’ & sending off a portfolio & waiting forever for a response was long gone. So I built lots of contacts through Instagram & Facebook because they could see what I did pretty effortlessly & I didn’t have to spend hours tailoring individual PDF’s for each brand I wanted to work with, so *phew* to that!

So after four & a half unforgettable years that really did feel like a New York minute, it was time for us to spread our wings a little more, so here we are in sunny LA.

I'll leave the NYC to LA story for another post. I have so many ‘moving’ tips I’d like to share for anyone else who’s moving or wanting to go through that whole process, so I’ll do that as soon as the dust settles here, because I'm still learning so much as we hunt for the perfect home.

I hope that answers your question - guess I’m not going to be a ‘short & sweet’ type of blogger, turns out I have a lot to say..sorry!!

I hope you’re enjoying - please leave a question or comment below if there’s anything I’ve missed & why not pop over to Instagram & keep sending me the topics you’d like me to cover? Huge thank you to everyone that's taken the time to contribute so far, this is going to be funnn.

Here’s some throwback shots of events I've done, products I've illustrated and campaigns I've been lucky enough to be a part of so you can see just how far I’ve come and how much neon I’ve added along the way.. (inc Topshop Oxford St window display & pop up book, very early exhibitions, Ted Baker's live drawing room & a few others..)




Niki Pilkington

Hi everyone *waves*

So lately..well for about three years tbh, tons of you been asking for me to start blogging (& vlogging too, but that will come as soon as I get over how much I hate the sound of my own voice!) I've definitely put it off for long enough, so it's time for me to go a little deeper than just the images I create & share on my social media & let you into my neon world. I'm going to be sharing a bit more of my creative process, behind the scenes sneak peeks, tips & tricks, more on brands I love to work with, how I got started, what it's like to be a freelance illustrator in this crazy social media hungry time we live in & lots lots loooots more.

If you have any topics you'd like me to cover, head over to my Instagram - comment on my posts with what you'd like to see - I read them all so I'd love to know your thoughts. 

Stay tuned as I share a little bit of all things Niki Pilkington.

*Side note* Please be gentle - I'm definitely better with a paint brush then a laptop, but I hope this will be as fun for you to read as it is for me type.