Nicola Scott was drawing Wonder Woman when she was 7 years old. And she’s still drawing her. Except now she’s doing it for DC Comics. How do I know? I grew up around the corner from her. We went to the same school and our parents were close friends. I caught up with Nicola on a recent trip to Sydney and couldn’t resist asking for an interview. Instead of posting pics of her office Nicola’s drawn it for us – “complete with fantasy bookcase, my imaginary friend and an enhanced view out the window.”
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve been working from home, full time, for about seven years now but “home” has changed during that time. I work in the comic book industry for one of the big superhero companies, DC Comics, as a penciller. Essentially, I draw the pictures and right now I’m doing so on the “Wonder Woman” title. Most comic contractors and freelancers work from home, communicating primarily through e-mail, and occasionally phone, with each other and the head office in New York. When I started getting work in the business I was living in New York, where I’d taken myself to specifically try to break in. I spent a year and a half drawing in a lightless basement in the middle of the night, the only time and place could find peace and quiet. When the ball started rolling and I returned to Australia I also moved back home with my parents. Luckily we all got along as I was drawing from the desk in the middle of the living room. Good light though! Four years ago, I moved into my current home, an apartment in Potts Point, Sydney, with my new husband, Craig. I work from the sunroom.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Honestly, my style hasn’t really made a strong impact on my work area. We rent, and in Australia there’s a limit to what can be done to a rental. I strive for tidy (not so easy when working with mountains of reference material, paper, rulers, french curves and never ending eraser debris). My personal style, that’s reflected in most of our home, is eclectic. Lots of art, mainly my mother’s and my grandmother’s, and great bits of furniture I’ve found over the years, much of which I’ve refinished in some way.
The comic book industry’s main market are “collectors” so an enormous amount of “collector” merchandise is produced. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find for sale, right now, around two hundred different Batman action figures. This is what tends to populate most creator’s work spaces, possibly even their whole homes, but neither I nor my husband, a comic writer, really have a collector gene. He has some Batman things, I have some Wonder Woman things (our favourite characters) but not much and mostly it’s given to us by others. It all lives together on the top shelf of a book case in my work area.
As an artist with deadlines to meet how do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I’m just starting to feel like I’m losing the battle of organization. Definitely needing to come up with some new options. There are two large bookcases in the sun room that house as much of our comics and graphic novels as possible and at any given time up to a dozen of those will be in a pile by my desk for reference. Apart from the art boards I work on, so much of my space gets overwhelmed by paper, for roughs and reference, so I try to be very diligent with getting rid of that. My paper recycling bin gets full very quickly.
Apart from communication and art transfer, I don’t really use my computer for work. I use FileZilla for opening up the ftp site but that’s it. Google Images brings me reference for pretty much anything I need and itunes keeps me entertained while I work.
When you were putting your workspace together what did you keep in mind? Light. I need plenty of light. But not direct light. Our “sunroom” faces South so it doesn’t get any direct sun at all (we’re in the southern hemisphere), but it gets loads of reflective light. Perfect! I also like to be facing the room so I sit with my back to the wall looking out over the room and the outlook from the large windows. It’s a small space and I don’t want to feel cramped or cut off from the world.
Is there any piece of office furniture you covet? One day I want and really big desk. I don’t really need one but I want one so I can sprawl. Obviously I’ll need the space for it, something I don’t currently have.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My light box. It’s a 18’5″ x 16″ desk top Porta-Trace that sits on a cushion on my lap. Can’t live without it!
What would you change about your own workspace? I’d really love to have a whole wall of built in shelves behind me. The amount of immediate reference material needed keeps my favourite art books far from reach. I also feel it would be the best way to store all my materials, files and references rather than in draws.
What do you most love about your space? The lead light windows that separate the sunroom from the living room, letting me feel connected to the rest of the apartment, and the large windows that look out over the street and the trees. It all helps the small space feel bright and open.
What inspires you? What doesn’t inspire me?! As a comic book artist I’m always mentally cataloguing pretty much everything I see, the drape of different fabrics, architectural details, the subtleties of expressions, real things and imagined things. Every time I see something new, even a play of the light, my brain starts to analyze how I might turn that into 2D line art. There’s very little that doesn’t get the creative juices flowing. Nothing more so that the human form. Regardless of it’s shape or size, the human body is endlessly fascinating. And as cheesy as it sounds, superheroes really inspire me too. Their dynamic physiques, heroic body language and bold costumes are so visually stimulating, it’s the very reason I decided to draw comics in the first place.