Introduce yourself – tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a freelance graphic artist born and based in London.
I graduated in 2008 with a degree in Graphic and Media Design from the University of the Arts London, and now specialise in illustrating abstract and patterned art and typography by hand. My past clients include MAC Cosmetics, Adidas, Malibu Rum and Benefit Cosmetics.
I am now currently focused on producing and selling original artworks and products from my own online store.
I’ve recently created a unique range of hand-designed greeting cards with matching stationery and have more plans to expand into additional product items featuring my work.
I’m learning that it is OK to be selfish sometimes if that means not having to compromise my own peace of mind.
How do you define self-care and what does it mean to you?
For me, self-care means learning to feel OK about being selfish.
The act of selfishness has a very negative connotation and in many cases that’s valid, but it shouldn’t be applied to every occasion.
Many of us are conditioned to doing things that are expected of us from others and we often do them to simply keep others happy and to avoid the drama that it may cause if we don’t, even if that same act is detrimental, large or small, to our own happiness and well-being.
As I get older and more comfortable with who I am, I’m learning that it is OK to be selfish sometimes if that means not having to compromise my own peace of mind.
Why is self-care important, particularly for women?
Self-care is important for women, especially because we live in a suffocating patriarchal society that has been heavily normalised over time.
There are daily pressures for women that can become overwhelming and stressful, if not monitored and addressed regularly; including narrow beauty standards, street harassment, intrusive criticism regarding sex, motherhood and career choices and much more.
I think it’s so easy to get lost in trying to deal with everything that we’re expected to be as women in the eyes of society that we actually lose who we are and want to be as individual people.
How do you practice self-care in your daily life?
I practice my self-care in really simple ways.
Firstly, I’m an illustrator so finding large chunks of time to just sit and draw is naturally therapeutic for me.
My main focus at the moment is channelling my passion into creating and selling my own art and products on my own online store, as I find that more peaceful and gratifying than creating commissioned art for clients.
I’m also an avid gamer so that is a great way for me to momentarily escape any internal or external stresses. Music is a must and I’ve also started reading on a regular basis again which I find really enjoyable.
Avoiding social media for long periods of time is really helpful too though that’s much easier said than done!
…only surround yourself wth people who give you support and good energy and cut out those toxic acquaintances as soon as humanly possible.
What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions about self-care?
I think a common misconception about self-care is that it’s not absolutely vital for everyone.
Regardless of how well you’re doing in life, we can all benefit from taking time out for ourselves, assessing what is and isn’t working for our journey, make necessary adjustments, become a better person to ourselves and those around us and continue to grow from there.
What tips, resources or advice can you share for anyone struggling with self-care?
One thing I learned the hard way was that people who you admire, love and/or have known for years can actually be quite toxic to your space.
A personal turning point for me was when I began to invest more of my time learning about intersectional feminism and becoming more vocal about prejudice and social injustice.
As fulfilling and enlightening as this was for me personally, it made realise that certain people were not supportive, or just downright combative, of this new direction.
It wasn’t easy to walk away from friendships but it would have been more damaging for me to stick with them.
My main advice regarding self-care is to only surround yourself wth people who give you support and good energy and cut out those toxic acquaintances as soon as humanly possible. You will truly feel the difference to your peace.
Laughter is a great medicine too.
What are your favourite self-care mantras, quotes, poems, songs, books or movies?
So this sounds super cliche but nothing beats an energetic Beyonce song to improve the mood. My musical taste is quite varied but I end up primarily listening to chilled electro and US hip-hop.
However, when my mood is dipping and in need of a substantial pick-me-up, I’m putting on Beyonce and reenacting the corresponding music videos in full feeling-myself mode.
Laughter is a great medicine too.
I discovered a little while ago that the American satirical comedy show, Parks and Recreation, is one of my favourites for making me momentarily forget any personal problems that are clouding my mind.
I usually enjoy very dark TV and film subjects, but Parks and Rec is so incredibly light-hearted and innocent with a such a sincere and optimistic female lead that it never fails to make me happy and comfort my spirits.
What is the most important advice would you give to your younger self?
I would probably tell myself that it’s OK to be different. Not just OK, but better.
We can spend a lot of time trying to conform to societal norms but deep down, that never really sat well with me.
I’m not average. I’m also not perfect. I’m often awkward, childlike, misanthropic, petty, feisty, and many other things that I’ve tried to suppress while growing up.
I’m still growing each day, but it’s only when I reached my 30s did I truly feel not just comfortable but great about who I am; flaws and all.
I see young women in the public today (eg. Amandla Stenberg, Willow Smith, Zendaya to name a few) who seem so woke so early in their lives and it really is a wonderful thing to witness. I wish I had awakened to my own truth earlier but I’m grateful for the journey nonetheless.
What is your hope for your future and the future of women?
I really hope for intersectional feminism to move from a colloquial term to a recognised mainstream one.
I’d like for Black women and WoC to get the same vocal and global support regarding issues that affect us from all groups, the same way that WoC naturally turn up for others.
If your feminism isn’t for every woman, then it’s for no woman.
Connect with Nikki
Online shop where you can purchase Nikki’s original artworks and products.