Lydia Nichols’ illustrations appeal to both children and adults. A self-proclaimed anthropomorphizer, she admits she has a penchant for the quirky and wants to anthropomorphize all the things. Her anthropomorphized characters include both animals and inanimate objects, all made to look overwhelmingly cute.
According to Nichols, there’s a sort of challenge in attributing human characteristics to non-human beings. “It’s like solving a happy puzzle of shape and line and the end result is a little illustrated friend,” she told Brave the Woods. Such practice allows her to infuse shapes with personalities, bringing them to life.
With a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University and an MFA in Design from Tyler School of Art, her clients include Google, Penguin Random House, The New York Times, and the Museum of Modern Art. But she admits that it took her some time to stand behind her artistic vision.
“In college I would look to extraordinary artists and draftsmen like Sterling Hundley or Gary Kelley and think, I want to do that,” she recalled. “Eventually I realized that I just want to admire them! For one thing, I can’t be them and for another, they already exist! So I took time to figure out what, exactly, I found most interesting and fun about illustration without the pressure of creating ‘perfect’ finished illustrations.”
Her ultimate goal? To occupy a Mary Poppins film, where animated illustrations live alongside humans.