Nikolas Ilic

Nikolas Ilic

Nikolas Ilic Interview

Nikolas Ilic

Children's Illustrator

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

I’m currently living in sunny Los Angeles, California! I have been living here the past 7 years with my wife and dog. I initially grew up in a small city called Guelph in Ontario, Canada. I then attended Sheridan College studying Animation and graduated in 2011 receiving my bachelors degree.

Growing up in a smaller city had its own charm, it is something I'm glad I experienced but moving to a big city such as LA has many perks. No matter what you are into I feel like you can find it in this city. Whether it be art, nature, music, it's here. From a career point of view there are so many fantastic opportunities becuase most studios are based in LA. There are things I miss from back home but overall being in LA has been a great experience and chapter in my life! and I definitely don't miss all the snow!

Was creativity part of your childhood?

Ever since I was a kid I definitely loved to draw and make things. A big influence on my creativity was my older brother. We collected comics, films, video games and art books to recreate the art that we loved! 

Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

There are so many to name, but Miroslav Sasek, Cliff Roberts and Ronald Searle are some of my all time favourites. They all have such a visual appeal to their work, whether it be the lively lines of Searle or the great graphic shapes and compositions of Sasek and Roberts. Their illustrations are truly inspiring stuff! 

Do you offer more than one style, if so – talk us through the different approaches and the audience you are targeting for each.

I definitely offer more the one style in my work! I think this comes from working in animation. In the animation industry every production has it's own look, which means it's vital that you can adapt and match the style. On every project I pick up something unique that I infuse into my own artwork - so it is constantly evolving!  

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What do you hope children take away from your drawings?

Whenever I see children happily reading a book I illustrated it brings me so much joy. Seeing them engage and connecting with my work is very rewarding. I hope children remember the characters and worlds I create and want to keep coming back to them!  

What would you say is a distinguishing feature of your artwork?

The most distinguishing feature in my artwork are the characters! Every character I create I'm looking to make fresh and unique as possible. I like to bring a whimsical, comical and funny personality to all my characters, this way they are iconic, memorable and jump off the page! 

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Which 4 words would you use to describe your illustration portfolio?

Fun. Charming. Whimsical. Comical. 

Outline your dream project.

My dream project would be to illustrate a Tolkien inspired picture book! Tolkien’s stories are filled with fun characters and a rich world. My favourite book is the Hobbit. If a children’s picture book adaption of the Hobbit ever came to be... it would be my dream project hands down! 

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Which area of children’s publishing excites you the most?

Picture books ! The idea of having a beautiful story alongside beautiful artwork excites me so much. As a kid, I would get lost in picture books with memorable stories, characters and worlds - it was an amazing experience! Now being able to create that for others is really exciting!

When you are not drawing, how do you like to relax?

When I am not drawing I absolutely love the outdoors and traveling. Seeing new places and cultures is so important to do. It is so easy in today's world to get caught up in your own bubble. Traveling is such a great way to break away from that! 

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How do you overcome a creative block?

If I am in a creative block I completely remove myself from drawing and social media. I try to find motivation and inspiration from things I enjoy in life. Going on a walk, watching a favourite movie, reading a book. I find that it helps to take a step back and do the things that bring you happiness! 

What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?

I love to draw dogs! It's because I have been surrounded by dogs my whole life. I love how much personality they bring and how loving they are. Another favourite subject matter of mine is medieval characters, this is because growing up I was inspired by medieval history and fantasy novels.

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Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?

Growing up I always had a dog in the house and continue to do so! Once you have had a dog in your life it feels so empty the moment you don’t. Since I work from home my dog adds so much liveliness and gives so much joy to my day. Even if she can be very distracting when I am trying to work. 

(how can I ignore this???)


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