Niki Simpson

2003 QEST Scholar - Digital Botanical Illustration

Niki’s QEST Scholarship allowed her to follow her interest in the future of botanical illustration.  She explored the possibilities of using her drawing and watercolour skills as a basis to experimenting with digital tools.  While her images are heavily based on the accuracy and detail of traditional art, the digital medium allows far greater flexibility, not only in composition and ease of correction, but also in the ways in which the images can be used.  Her work is closely based on the traditions of botanical illustration, with her main inspiration being the drawings of Stella Ross-Craig.

Niki’s special interest is the botanical depiction of native British plants, having created book illustrations, book covers, diagrams and posters. She holds RHS Gold Medals for her botanical work and in 2018 was awarded the prestigious international Jill Smythies Prize by the Linnean Society. Her work is held in major botanical collections such as Kew, the Royal Horticultural Society and the Linnean Society. Niki is now exploring design aspects possible from her scientific work, creating repeat patterns and designs for use on paper, fabric, leather and china and even a linen art quilt.

I enjoy drawing attention to everyday plants, which can be thought of as familiar, but are often surprising and fascinating when looked at more closely. My creative focus is on attractive detail and accuracy, with no fudging, fading or false colour, and ultimately the botanical truth.