Life, illustrated

Going freelance as the pandemic hit, the bright and bold illustrations of Nicola Mascarenhas have taken on a new social awareness

For Nicola Mascarenhas, there was never any doubt that her life would take an artistic route.

Growing up in Forest Hill and Peckham, her mum was “quite the maker – creative, crafty and hands-on,” while her grandmother, a well-known painter from Montreal, would visit in the summer and paint with her at home. “Other kids might be playing with dolls, we’d all be painting and drawing,” Nicola says.

Now living in East Dulwich, the illustrator set up her own business, Nico Creative, just over a year ago. She’d previously spent about 15 years working in advertising as a commercial designer, animator and illustrator. She had left work to raise her daughters Ena and Heidi and decided, as the girls were starting school, that it was time to do her own thing.

“My interest is in celebrating the joy of nature and humankind,” Nicola says of her work. “That’s what I seem to be drawn to.”

Her illustrations, an inspiring collection of forms and faces, are playful and bright. They range from the child-friendly – animals shaped as numbers, and acrobats forming the alphabet – to delicate nature-inspired cards and prints. She also recently illustrated the shopfront of local business Stag & Bow to mark its 10-year anniversary.

Excerpt taken from the May/June 2021 issue of Dulwich Diverter