At the Women’s Prize Trust, we are always looking for new ways to collaborate and showcase brilliantly creative and innovative women, working across many fields and industries, casting our net wide beyond publishing and literature.
This is why we are so excited to be working with the extraordinary London-based designer, Nina Bombina. We have collaborated with Nina to bring you a new vibrant art print that is bursting with colour. You can purchase the stunning piece, The Reader on our shop now. Nina’s incredible designs caught our eyes for her commitment to lively and joyful colours while doing the important work of diversifying the greeting card industry.
We sat down with Nina to find out about her journey into illustration and design and where she finds her inspiration…
Please tell us a little bit about Nina Bombina and your creations.
I am an artist, maker and designer based in London, where I make cheerful and unique gifts and homeware. My signature style is colourful and vibrant and my black-owned brand champions diversity.
What is it that informs your style? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m really drawn to bright colours and shiny things… I’m basically a magpie! Those things probably inform the designs I make, along with my love for maximalism. Anything eye-catching! I also want to make things that people haven’t seen before.
Tell us about your love of colour.
I’m kind of obsessed with fluorescent colours, and my current favourite colour combination is pink and green. I sell my products on market stalls and one of my favourite things about doing that is watching the smiles form on people’s faces as they first lay eyes on my stall, because the bright colours make it so cheerful.
How do you want people to feel when they interact with your creations?
Joy. I get that feeling myself when I discover someone else’s work that sparks something in me; like a deep feeling of ultimate contentment. That’s what I want to recreate for other people in my work.
How has your career evolved? Did you start out as a designer?
I’ve been super arty from a very young age and have always wanted to design and make products. I studied photography at university and am a professional photographer, so I started out in a different field of the art world. Nina Bombina as a brand was born out of lockdown and began with a range of cards featuring black and brown characters, as they are often underrepresented in the greetings card industry. Once the cards were taken on board by Moonpig, Funky Pigeon and Paperchase, I started designing prints too, alongside making decorative marble candles, embellished plant pots, polymer clay earrings and more. I’m currently expanding on my range of products whilst in an experimentation phase.
Is there a place you visit or a thing you do when you’re stuck and looking for inspiration?
Go to art exhibitions, visit cute gift shops or browse Pinterest.
How do your pieces start out? (Do you think first of colour, theme, use, audience? Or is it more organic!)
With my print designs, I usually start with a theme and colour scheme in mind, and because I use a digital collage technique, I play around with different elements and their composition until I’m happy with how it looks. The process is kind of similar to interior design because my prints usually depict someone in a room!
What would you say is your chief motivation?
What does a typical day look like for you?
There isn’t a typical day because every day is different! It might involve answering emails, posting orders to customers, designing a new product, trying out a new material, doing a photoshoot, getting stock ready for markets, or buying materials.
If you weren’t making bright and colourful designs, what would you be doing instead?
I can’t think of anything I’d rather do! I have done aerial circus arts in my spare time for 7 years though, so maybe I’d be a performer.
What is it like managing your own business? Does it have benefits and challenges?
To me, it’s the dream, but at the same time, it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. When I was working 9-5 in an office, I used to dream of being self-employed and how many less hour I’d have to work, but now I’m here, I work 24/7! The difference is, now I love what I do and most of it doesn’t feel like work. Luckily, I’m very organised and self-motivated so I think managing my own business is something I’m good at.
What advice would you give someone starting their own business?
You are capable of more than you think. The more you put yourself out there and believe in your business, the more doors will open for you.