The Little Rock illustrator on her new book, her black thumb, and her love of wood paneling
Sally Nixon’s detail-rich illustrations pack a lot of visual punch: Whether she’s drawing the corner of a couch or a packed public space, every aspect of the scene is filled with painstakingly intricate patterns and textures. That’s why it’s no surprise Nixon’s latest project, Houseplants and Hot Sauce: A Seek-and-Find Book for Grown-ups, was named in a lineup of Architectural Digest’s best coffee table books this fall. Her work has also been featured on Cosmopolitan, Mashable, Bustle, and Lenny Letter, as well as Volume 1 of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.
Houseplants and Hot Sauce plays on Nixon’s intricate drawing style to hide everyday objects in plain sight, à la Where’s Waldo or I Spy, if Waldo was looking for six glasses of red wine. You can find the book wherever books are sold, or join her for a book signing at Domestic Domestic on October 19.
Q: The home is the setting of so many of your illustrations, both before this book and within its pages. What makes this setting appealing to you?
A: I draw a lot of home scenes because I want the viewer to be able to relate to the characters I illustrate. One way I communicate the personality and interests of the people I create is to draw their environments.
Q: What have been your biggest influences in developing your style over the years?
A: The rooms and houses I draw are heavily influenced by the homes I grew up in and the women who decorated them. My grandmother’s style is very classic and beautiful. Most of the earlier homes and rooms I drew were based off her home. My mom’s style when I was growing up was more eclectic and 90s (which I love). The homes and rooms I draw now are influenced by my mom’s 90s style.
Q: The homes in your illustrations have a lot of patterns and texture on the walls, rugs, and furniture. What’s your own home style like?
A: My home style is like most twenty-something renters: lots of hand-me-down pieces mixed with IKEA furniture and boring gray walls. If I didn’t rent, I’d have a house full of wallpapered walls and fun colors. I also love wood paneling.
Q: Do you have any houseplants yourself?
A: I’m actually really bad at taking care of plants. They all die so I just stick to drawing them! I love the way monsteras look, though. If I was a better plant mom, I’d get one of those.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for a seek-and-find book?
A: My illustration style is very detail oriented and I love hiding little Easter eggs for the viewer in all of my drawings. When I was coming up with ideas for my publisher, a seek-and-find book seemed like a natural choice. Also, coloring and activity books for adults have become super popular and I thought a seek-and-find would be a fun addition to the mix.
Follow Sally Nixon on Instagram at instagram.com/sallustration.