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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Nikki Upsher


We are so proud of our Make Art That Sells Alumni, and we are pleased to feature a series of spotlight interviews showcasing their successes and artwork. We’ve asked them to share how the MATS courses have helped them learn and grow. You can see more Alumni Success stories here


Today, we have an interview with Nikki Upsher Design, who has taken MATS A, MATS B, Creating Collections for Home Decor and Illustrating Children’s Books. Nikki was also a finalist in our 2015 Global Talent Search.

nikki upsher photo Make Art That Sells Alumni success 'spotlight' interview with Nikki Upsher

Tell us a little about how you got started in art and design

I did a degree in fashion design and graduated in 1988….i worked in the fashion industry for 20 years. I retrained 10 years ago in graphic design and worked as a greeting card designer for 5 years for a big UK company and left to freelance in Nov 2014.

Lilla always says “People buy your joy.” What brings you joy?’

Many things…I feel very lucky to be able to make a living from designing. My rescue dogs make me happy and I love to go out with my friends and have great chats and a drink or two ;)

Jungle–Nikki Upsher Make Art That Sells Alumni success 'spotlight' interview with Nikki Upsher

Which is your favorite market(s) to design for and why?

Definitely the kids market. I love to design cute characters. I also like doing home dec.

What are you working on currently?

I am currently working on everyday gift wrap and xmas gift wrap. I am also doing a trend forecasting course and am updating my website.

What are some of the key things you have learnt from the MATS experience?

Colour for me is key, I am never happy with my design if the colour isn’t right.

Textured Florals Nikki Upsher Make Art That Sells Alumni success 'spotlight' interview with Nikki Upsher

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

It gave me the opportunity to practise lots of different techniques.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

Keep going! If a design is not going well, keep practising and experimenting.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I have worked for some well known retailers mainly in America, Europe and a few in the Far East. American Girl contacted me in Feb 2016 after seeing my work on Pinterest and Instagram. I initially did some test girl characters for them and then worked with an art director doing sketches for the book and once this was approved I worked digitally to add colour and pattern work.

Upsher1 Make Art That Sells Alumni success 'spotlight' interview with Nikki Upsher

Here is the 95 page book for American Girl (published June 2017)

How would you describe taking a MATS class to a fellow artist looking to develop their art
An enjoyable and intense experience, where you can improve your art and meet lots of like minded individuals who are happy to share their experiences.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

Marks and Spencers Childrens wear is my dream gig.

See more work here: Website


Do you dream of illustrating a children’s book? Would you love to create a magical world with characters that you’ve designed? Do you love the magic of children’s books and feel that you have something to offer? Then this course is for you.

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One Response to “Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Nikki Upsher”

  1. Lauren MacEachern

    I have a print which was signed, Miss Upsher’s print. “BLESS THE BEAST & THE CHILDREN”. 9th grade Art-teacher…i purchased it at Habitat for Humanity thrift shop, i love that place. Anyway, it totally caught my eye..and to my surprise, it is the original blue ink signature…A one of a kind? You may contact me anytime!! Thanks for responding..you’re the first “Upsher”, i have contacted…could it be just the needle in the haystack?? I pray…

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