Sheffield illustrator's 'brilliant, zany energy' comes through in new children's book

A Sheffield illustrator with a penchant for drawing mischievous animals discusses her debut book which was published this year.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 6:00 am
Oh Monty is the first book which Nici has illustrated.
Oh Monty is the first book which Nici has illustrated.

Nici Gregory, aged 58, who moved to Greystones from Germany in 1988, was always creative, but after finding working for a marketing firm stifling, she decided to try her hand at illustrating children’s books.

Oh Monty! published in September this year, is a children’s book written by Susannah Lloyd and illustrated by Nici. It tells the story of a delicious cake which, when left in the paws of two cats, goes missing, but which feline was the felon?

Nici said: “Susie found me on Twitter. I can draw anything but I seem to gravitate towards cats because they are so cheeky and irreverent, and my Twitter is full of them.

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Nici Gregory said that Dr Seuss was a huge influence on her style.

"She saw my cats, they looked quite mischievous and she mentioned me to her agent, which is not usually how these things happen. Authors don’t usually get to choose their illustrators so I was told not to get my hopes up.

“But I completely had my heart set on this. I pulled all the stops out for the sample illustrations.

"I started out as an in house illustrator working for marketing firms - you had to do any style and I always wanted to break out of that. I did a lot of corporate stuff, train booklets, things that nobody ever gets to see. It was really quite soul destroying."

Oh Monty! was featured in a children’s book review round up by The Guardian, where Nici was praised for her ‘brilliant zany energy’.

Nici added: "It is quite liberating to work on something that is made to be enjoyed. I do my illustrations for the inner child in me. I like mischievousness and nonsense. I had all the Doctor Seuss books. He was a huge influence for me.

"I always loved illustration work. I love books and especially comic books like Asterix - I love how they take you away from the world. As a child I didn’t think that it might be a job.”

Oh Monty! can be purchased from Amazon.