Interview with Graphic Designer Nichola Watkiss

Today we bring you our latest interview in the series, this time with University of Chester student and freelance designer Nichola Watkiss. Here we chat about her work, education, experiences in the industry and inspirations, enjoy!

How do you fit into the creative world?

I’m currently studying part time for a Masters Degree in Design at the University of Chester. Alongside my studies I’m a Freelance Designer and a creative outsource for a few design agencies in the North West and North Wales. I design for both print and web, and my additional freelance work mainly includes branding, website design, illustration, and advertising.

What are the typical projects you undertake as a freelancer? What has been your favourite project you’ve completed to date?

The projects I mainly take on are branding, illustration or web design. My favourite freelance project I have completed to date was when I worked with Chester Performs to create all the promotional material for the Grosvenor Park Young Theatre production ‘I Was Once Adored’. I have recently been hired again to work with Chester Performs, and currently designing for their next interactive production, Rogues’ Galleries.

Buy Nothing Day - Nichola Watkiss

You recently completed your degree at the University of Chester, why go back for a Masters?

There is still so much I want to learn, develop and work on. I have just always been quite keen to do a Masters in Design.

What are your plans after your Masters degree? Do you have a defined plan for the next 3-5 years?

No defined plan, just general ideas. I am quite keen on running my own business and lecturing after my studies.

Did you enjoy your time at University of Chester? What were the biggest lessons you learnt from your time there?

I definitely did enjoy my time there. My biggest lesson was learning more about myself as a designer. Design is so diverse, and throughout we took on a vast variety of projects and explored into many different types of design disciplines.

Would you recommend to other potential students to study at the University of Chester?

I certainly would. Industry experienced supportive lecturers and an ideal creative working environment with its own Art and Design campus.

buy nothing

buy nothing 2

Buy Nothing Day: Buy Nothing Day highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. My 100% eco-friendly concept targeted consumers outside supermarkets to think differently about how they retain foods of their everyday needs; encouraging consumers to shop less, rather than not shop at all.

Which designers inspire your work? Have this changed as you have grown up?

I admire the work of Si Scott and Jessica Hische, however neither influence my style of work. I am mainly inspired by Eastern culture, Japanese packaging and the work of Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa.

What blogs/websites online do you visit on a regular basis? Which are your favourite to gather inspiration?

I read lots of different blogs; regularly Creative Review, Design Week, It’s Nice That, Brand Republic, Eye Magazine and The Dieline. I also use Pinterest.

Do you do as much research online as offline? Are magazines and real-world research on the down with so much available online?

There is as much valuable research offline as online. I do read a lot of books and try to attend as many design conferences as I can. I feel it is important to know the professionals out there already and listen to what they have to offer.



Doodle Mail : With digital communication being so prevalent in our daily lives, the art of handwritten letters and sending pieces of mail seems to have been forgotten about. Doodle Mail is a set of cards that can be shared between three friends. The cards will be bought by one, and given to their chosen recipients to use and keep. The cards are designed to be personalised and makes sending letters convenient, fun and more personal.

Who are your 3 favourite people to follow on Twitter?

To be honest I would find it difficult to narrow it down to five. In terms of design I follow @Inspirationf for inspiration and @TheDrum for my news and updates. Otherwise I would certainly put you and @SimonsCat on my list of top favourites.

Who are your favourite friends and creative colleagues to follow on Twitter?

My favourite creative friends were those I studied with. We developed so much together and always there now to support each other. @damonmorrisart, @ldecreative, @aliceevaughan, @y_a_t_e_s and @alexfranklin1.

What do you enjoy away from your desk and keyboard? Do you find it hard to switch off as a designer?

I do find it very hard to switch off as a designer. At the moment most of my free time is spent doing coursework (which again I also find it hard to switch off from) otherwise, I enjoy to go away and visit places.


I Was Adored Once Theatre Programme: This is the theatre programme for Chester Performs’ production ‘I Was Adored Once’ following the two plays ‘Masters Are You Mad?’ and ‘Twelfth Night’ The idea of the programme was to demonstrate this production journey . I put together a map linking each of the theatre productions together with the use of a stepping stone path.

Follow Nichola Watkiss on her Website,  Blog and on Twitter @nicholawatkiss.

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