Sweet Gigs

Meet Melbourne-based illustrator, designer, and art director Nicko Phillips

In today’s Sweet Gigs feature, we're excited for you to meet the uber cool and talented Nicko Phillips, the mastermind behind Kip&Co's fan-favourite Nature Things kid print. 

Nicko, also known as @champagne_nicko, is a Melbourne-based illustrator, designer, and art director, renowned for his eccentric, vibrant, and imaginative designs. He has an extensive portfolio, having contributed to campaigns, collaborations, and branding projects across various industries, including clothing, alcohol, music, and the environment. He has established himself as a creative force and has recently expanded his artistic horizons into homewares, showcasing his ability to transcend boundaries and infuse creativity into every facet of design. 

We're truly obsessed with the magic he creates, so keep reading to learn a little more about Nicko, the inspiration behind the exclusive Kip&Co print and all about his creative world. 

Hi Nick! Thank you for inviting us for a tour of your Barwon Heads Point Lonsdale studio! We love to see where the magic happens! Can you tell us a bit about the work you do and how you became an illustrator and designer?

Thanks for coming! So the work I'm drawn to is generally rooted in silly, anthropomorphic, nature-inspired characters. I have a rule of thumb to try and keep my art at least 10% weird. If it ain't weird, it ain't interesting! I was always drawn to drawing (oh damn, excuse the pun) ever since I was a kid. The 90s were a wild time for inspo – Mad Magazine, The Simpsons, Count Duckula, Garbage Pail Kids, Footrot Flats – the list is endless.

You’ve worked across sooooo many industries - clothing, food and beverage, music, wellness - what are some of your favourite collaborations to date? And what’s your dream collab? 

No matter the industry, most people who I've collaborated with are great. I've been lucky enough so far, that people who come to me for illustrations are generally after something fun, so I find that process super enjoyable. I love working with people from the music industry. I did some posters for US band Khruangbin, which came about from just hitting them up directly. Turns out they're very talented and magical people to boot. A dream collab would probably be a music festival. Any festival directors reading this: DM me.

Your illustrations are weird, wonderful and obviously very colourful! Where did you get this unique visual style from? 

My style is something that has evolved over many years. Colour is a big part of my illustrations, and it's something that I always naturally gravitate towards – when colour is paired well, it fills me with such joy. When we lived in Brunswick, Melbourne, I would ride my bike past a particular piece of graffiti that was just huge blocks of colours. I'd ride as fast as I could and close to the wall and open my eyes super wide just to absorb as much of the colour as possible. I can still feel the sensation now.

We’d love to know more about your design process. How do you stay motivated and inspired along the way? 

I like to source inspiration from everywhere and anywhere, and try to actively seek out wonder. Yesterday I was walking down a grotty residential alleyway, and I saw a weed growing in between two rocks that looked like a puffy lil ball. It looked so weird, so I stopped and touched it, and as soon as I did, a butterfly flew past. It was a magical moment, and I wouldn't have seen that butterfly had I ignored that weird rock and weed and kept on walking. Small victories like that keep me excited to keep creating.

We're obsessed with the Nature Things print you designed for our kids bedding and apparel range. Can you tell us about the story behind the characters (we LOVE them all)! 

This collection of characters is all rooted in things you do when you're out camping – thick socks, campfires, hot drinks, mountains, the night sky, music, leaves, marshmallows. If I were more strategic in my process, I probably should have just created a visual list of things my kids need to pack when we go camping.

Summer holidays are here! Being a dad of two and living beach-side, can you share your favourite holiday activities to keep the kiddos happy?

It's always a balance of knowing when to get out of the house and knowing when to get back home. It's the parenting tightrope – cabin fever on one side, burnout on the other. But lots of nature, lots of beach time, lots of movies, lots of ice-creams, and probably a few potato cakes along the way. We're pretty simple creatures, really.