Travelling #Illustrator: Natalie Hughes

Natalie Hughes is an illustrator who lives and draws from Bristol. She finds her inspiration in travelling, maps, plants and strange creatures. She designs greetings cards, children’s illustrations and exhibition work as well as producing her own hand made products and prints. Her ‘Woody Allen’ pattern portrait made me stop and stare. So I thought I would get to know her a little better… 

Which is your favourite illustration project to date and why? I created a children’s book called A Crowd of Creatures, based on collective nouns for animals. My favourite piece is the Bloat of Hippos, as I think I managed to capture the 1950’s vintage style, which I love so much (think Charley Harper but nowhere near as amazing!)

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? I think I wanted to be an artist actually, or Indiana Jones’ girlfriend…at some stage I also wanted to be a film critic, so I could watch films all day.

Which UNI did you go to and what did you study? I went to the University of Gloucestershire, where I did a degree in Illustration and Animation.

What’s the proudest moment of your career to date? Completing my first commissioned children’s book for Hansol in S.Korea was exciting, although it’s not yet published, it was a real milestone for me and made my mum proper proud!

Which project has been your career highlight? Designing a logo for Big Green Week festival here in Bristol was a highlight, seeing my design all over the city that I love was really exciting.

How do you promote yourself? Twitter, blogging, and locally by taking part in group exhibitions with Drawn In Bristol (a local illustration collective)

Do you love or loathe social media? Love it! I used to be a constant user of Twitter, it has helped raise my profile and also I’ve met some lovely fellow doodlers (including my other half funnily enough!) I wish I had more time for tweeting!

How cute is that! Which tools do you use to create stuff? Mechanical pencil, paper, paint, Photoshop.

I see you have just got back from Iceland. What was it about your trip that decided your colour palette and the characters you created for your Iceland illustrations? Also, I am going to Reykjavík for my birthday… Can you recommend anything in particular that I simply have to do? I tried to capture the uniqueness of the landscape…it’s kind of bleak in a very beautiful way, and full of and ice, empty quiet countryside and violent volcanoes…even the horses are quirky and unique. I wanted to give it a folk art feeling…as well as using some vibrant colours.

When you’re visiting, other then making the most of all the amazing bars and cafes in Reykjavik (try the KEX Hostel) you should definitely go on the Golden Circle tour, get out of the city and see the beautiful and ridiculously EMPTY country! Seeing wild Icelandic horses is pretty special… if I went back I’d try horse trekking. Enjoy your Birthday, what a cool place to spend it!


Thanks for the travel tips! I love your Frida Kahlo portrait for Ammo magazine. What does Frida represent to you? Thank you! Frida was just plain cool. She was beautiful, powerful and vulnerable as an artist and a woman...I admire her strength even when faced with crippling injuries and a pretty challenging life...she also had an amazing sense of style! I dressed up as her for a Mexican day of the dead celebration, Viva La Frida!

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Where do you find inspiration? Out the window, my children’s book collection, my sub conscious where all my favourite 80’s films like E.T live, the natural world and through travelling as much as I can. The Sea, mountains, and the desert are all inspirational places to me… As well as the fine city of Bristol I live in. Also my sausage dog Daisy, who is probably the funniest creature that ever lived.

I LOVE DOGS! What’s your favourite music to work to? Film music helps me focus (Thomas Newman film scores especially) or currently someone like 'The Shins' or 'Edward Sharpe' and The Magnetic Zeros. I also love a bit of Johnny Cash!

Which blog/magazine do you read religiously? Design taxi is a nice daily dose of interesting design ideas. I often read the InkyGoodness blog, as well as It’s Nice That, and Ape on the Moon.

What do you spread on your toast in the morning? Usually Marmite… But I’m more of a cereal kinda gal right now (pecan maple crunch)…

What are you working on at the moment? I've just finished a children’s book for Oxford University Press Australia, and I’m now working on some new card designs for the Surtex licensing fair in New York.