Business Spotlight: Julie Nicholls
January 20, 2020 • News
CJC: How did you get started as a designer and what made you want to pursue that field?
JN: I was an author, and when it came to needing a cover I realized, given my artistic background, that I should create my own. After I’d made covers for all my books a number of other authors asked if I would create theirs. I realized I was happier making the covers than I was writing and took up designing full time.
CJC: Where do you find inspiration and how is that reflected in your work?
JN: Most of the covers I create are dictated by the need for a specific genre. Authors tend to write in phases, and I go along with the popular topic but try to make each cover something unique. I tend to be a ‘clean’ designer, and by that I mean, I don’t do abstract work. I like to show a story in the artwork I create that relates to the authors writing.
CJC: How do you come up with the concepts/ideas you work on?
JN: For custom covers I chat with the authors to find out what their novel is about, and ask them to give me key features in it. I then work with them to bring out a suitable image for the cover. For premade covers, those which I don’t need to follow any authors requirements, I tend to create what I feel I need to work on. For example, my favorite topics are angels, elves and dragons, so usually my premade covers will have those creatures.
CJC: Do you have a favorite cover that you’ve designed or genre to work on?
JN: I have a few! I seem to latch on to something I’ve created recently, although I think if I had to choose just one, It would be ‘Angel’s Kiss’ This cover was a premade that I created and was later purchased by author Lexi C Foss.
CJC: What made you leave writing behind and transition into being a designer?
JN: Writing is hard work for me. I didn’t go to college and left school with just two qualifications, one of which was Art and Design. It’s alot of work, and I learned unless money was spent on advertising and promotion, I stood little chance of any of my books becoming popular. Not only that, I really don’t have what it takes to be a writer, honestly.
CJC: What do you like to read?
JN: When I did read, I would only read fantasy books. Mostly when I was younger. After I started writing, I couldn’t actually read any books. It was as though I felt it would interfere with my own writing, so I stopped.
CJC: Scheduling wise, how do you balance and juggle your multiple hats?
JN: I have a very long word document with lots of appointments and details. I am someone who can become stressed if I am not organized, as I think everything has to be done immediately so I learned that if I was to make this job work, I had to have structure. I only work on one job at a time. My whole attention is given to the author that I’m working with before I start another project. My ‘other hats’ also have me being a housewife, but thankfully my husband takes up the slack.
CJC: What hurdles have you overcome while striving towards your goals?
JN: Despite what some people think, I lack confidence. Most people who know me as a designer, don’t think I have a confidence issue, but I do. I had to learn to trust in myself. That wasn’t easy as I was told constantly while growing up that I was ‘useless and stupid’. If you’re told something negative constantly, you believe it. It took me a long time to believe in myself and be able to do something that I love doing for a living.
CJC: For those looking to become a designer, what advice would you give them?
JN: Learn the tools of your trade. Don’t try and run before you can walk…start at the basics and this will help you grow much faster. I am self taught in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and the DAZ 3d program that I use and it’s not been a fast track. If I could have studied these programs by taking courses, I would have grown much faster. Most of all, believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.
CJC: Any final thoughts you would like to share with the CJC Photography readers?
JN: The authors who work with me and who know me, know that I do this ‘job’ because I love it. Since I was very young, I constantly drew and painted – mostly horses, I’ll admit, but I would look at the fantasy art posters every chance I got when I went into town. I never in my life imagined I would be creating fantasy artwork that is shown on book covers, let alone get paid for doing it! Be honest and reliable when dealing with clients and they will stay with you.
CJC: I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with Julie on multiple projects and I’m always astounded by the final product. She’s truly talented and I’m always in awe of her work.