Nicola Rowlands

Nicola Rowlands is one of five illustrators featured in the article “The New Portrait Makers,” which you’ll find in Flow International, issue 8. In it, she talks about how she creates her striking portraits from a photo.


Nicola Rowlands comes from Manchester and is a real romantic. Her portraits often include hearts and the letters L.O.V.E. “I started off as a graphic designer,“ she says. “After the first pencil sketch, I work on the computer and build up the illustration in several layers. The big advantage is that it’s easy to fix little things very fast. After seeing the first sketch of their portrait, a couple who both played the flute asked me if I could include their instruments. That’s no problem for me, but a charcoal artist or painter would have to start all over again.

“My style is wonky—that’s what I call it. A bit crazy, bright, witty. I study the pictures that people e-mail me very intently, feeling just like a voyeur. Especially when I’m making a gift for someone who doesn’t know I have their photo. If they only knew that on the other side of the world an illustrator is staring at them! Well, my orders come in from Spain, New Zealand, America. I pay close attention to facial proportions. How far is the nose from the mouth? Eyebrows are my favorites. The weird little things that are so different in everyone. Bushy, thin, crooked or straight? I love drawing them.”

Want to read more? You can find the full article—which also includes Blanka Biernat, Marloes de Vries, Anna Petry and Elisabeth McNair—in Flow International, issue 8.