Niki Groom, AKA Miss Magpie Fashion Spy, is an award winning fashion, beauty, food and lifestyle illustrator based in Bristol. Her passion for colour, print, trends and a background in fashion design informs her artwork and blog. I love the way Niki showcases a diverse range of female body imagery within her illustrations. She positively celebrates ‘real’ body shapes, sizes, disabilities and skin colours in a truly inclusive way.
Why does work matter to you?
There are times in the past when I’ve been in jobs I didn’t like and I craved a different direction, and if I’m honest on those occasions work was just about money and about climbing the ladder without really thinking why. But I’ve now managed to make my passion my job, and as a result it’s become part of my life. The things I like to do in my private life (such as travel, museums, cinema) all feed in to my work – it’s all intertwined. I can’t imagine not working, I certainly don’t think I’ll ever retire.
Describe in three words what professional success means to you…
Freedom, creativity, money.
What would be your dream job/project/company you’d like to work for?
I’d love to do range of clothing for a brand with my illustrations printed on to fabric. I was a fashion designer for years so it would combine all of my skills. I used to have a list of dream clients and I got to work with all of them and that taught me a lot. For me now it’s not about the brand, it’s about the people who work for the brand and how they are to work with. I don’t hold any brands high on a pedestal anymore (apart from Dries Van Noten!).
More than anything I would like to continue my work with Clinique, they are such a brilliant team to collaborate with and I hope that my opportunities with them will continue to develop.
I’m also always up for a challenge, so something totally new and a risk would appeal. I hosted Instagram Live on the Boden feed once whilst illustrating at the same time, it was great fun and I enjoyed pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?
My first job after graduating with a Fashion Design Degree was as a receptionist for a company called RMC (Ready Made Concrete). It might sound like an edgy street brand, but sadly they just sold concrete.
What did that experience teach you?
I don’t have a passion for concrete, but sometimes you have to leave your ego at home and focus on paying the bills.
What’s your proudest professional achievement to date?
My window display for Accessorize went worldwide, it’s still the biggest project of my career and it was so exciting to see photos coming in from all over the world.
If you could go back in time who would you seek career advice from and why?
I wouldn’t change anything to be honest, I’m not one for looking back.
Who is your present day career heroine and why?
Oh I have many! Gill Button, who is @buttonfruit on Instagram is one. She was a commercial illustrator for years she is now an artist, and her work is incredible. Then Helen Downie @unskilledworker who started painting aged 50 and has just done a range with Gucci. The thing that marks these two out for me is that they are also nice people. Both will chat with me on Instagram even though we have never met. I find them both very inspiring women and I feel excited by their success. I don’t quite know what path I’m on at the moment, but they inspire me to just be myself and do what feels right.
What words of professional wisdom would you impart to the next generation of women?
Always be professional and diplomatic in the way that you communicate, even if it takes a whole day to write a response to an email. On, and don’t work for free.
Have you ever considered trying something completely different career wise, if so what?
I’m currently considering doing voice overs! I get so many comments about my voice on Instagram Stories and so I’m thinking it might be something to investigate to earn some cash.