A chat with Nikki Douthwaite

nikkiWhen it comes to expressing one’s love for Motorsport, Nikki Douthwaite has taken a rather unorthodox approach.  Affectionately known as ‘Dot Lady’, Nikki creates one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces made entirely from hole-punch dots.

Patiently crafting each individual piece, some artwork has been known to take her as long as four months due to the intricacy and attention to detail required. Little else shows dedication and passion quite like placing a record 587,000 hole punch dots to one artistic piece.

Nikki first adopted this unique style of artwork whilst obtaining her Art Degree in 2006. Studying ‘Pointillism’ (and yes, this is a thing), she opted for the use of hole punch dots as they offer a wide variety of colours and sizes. “When I am sticking my dots, most of the enjoyment comes out of playing with colour and colour relationships”, she explains.

Nikki further details that, much like the work of George Seurat, her biggest inspiration, she enjoys creating portraits and portraying each facial expression and emotion in her own distinctive way.

sebvettelnikki“I love trying new combinations and I also enjoy the detail of people’s faces. When you start creating someone’s face, even someone you have seen hundreds of times before on a screen, you notice things you didn’t before”, she notes.

For example, “someone may have one eye a lot bigger than the other, or a really uneven jaw line”, something none of us would otherwise recognise in familiar faces. This admirable attention to detail has garnered Nikki attention and opened opportunities to create work for the likes of McLaren F1 and the BBC.

Nikki’s first taste of notoriety came when her ‘Dot Seb’ – as she likes to call him – appeared as part of the 2012 BBC F1 closing sequence. This is a unique achievement and an impressive one at that. Indeed, there is more to Nikki’s visit to the McLaren Technology Centre than meets the eye. To create a collection of work for exhibition at the McLaren Technology Centre required four years of planning, two years of painstaking work and over one million hole-punch dots.

Yes folks, one million.

When discussing her recent exhibition with McLaren, Nikki’s inner fan started to really emerge; as an avid admirer of the British outfit, she relished the opportunity to work so closely to such a prestigious Formula 1 team. “Who could resist that as a huge McLaren fan?”, she says gleefully.

“I have been lucky to meet quite a lot of my F1 heroes but I have probably been most star struck around Jenson Button, Martin Whitmarsh and Martin Brundle, mainly because they are such down-to-earth people”, she adds.

“I was also quite nervous before meeting Ted Kravitz but that is because I have a little crush on Ted”, Nikki jokes, showing a lighter side to her personality.

jameshuntnikkiOf the McLaren collection commissioned by Martin Whitmarsh, Nikki takes particular pride in her James Hunt dot design. “I don’t feel like I could have done it any better. When I have finished my work, I always feel I could improve in one area but with James Hunt, I did my very best”, she explains with pride.

Perhaps the most difficult part of Nikki’s job, amongst many visible challenges, is the trust she needs in her own talent and meticulous planning. “Though I do also hate hunting any missing dots”, she adds with a mixture of laughter and frustration at the thought.

The challenges and the time required to create her unique artwork has not stopped Nikki from dreaming big for future projects. “I would love to make a full size F1 car out of dots, but not yet. Of course, I will also have to make any future McLaren champions as well, to keep the collection at McLaren up to date”, she continues with obvious ambition and determination.

For Nikki, the aim is to evolve, to get better and to create art work to be proud of. Nikki’s humility and modesty was best summarised by her inability to pick a highlight from her vast array of opportunities thus far.

“What may seem like a great achievement to me may seem really small to someone else”.

One thing is for sure, no other artist is creating artwork quite like Nikki Douthwaite.

Be sure to check out Nikki’s work on her website.
Any custom orders can be sent to her email address: nikki@nikkidouthwaite.co.uk
All images used are courtesy of Nikki herself.



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