The self-taught artist whose kiss caused quite a buzz on Instagram – ‘Bisou Bisou’ from Nephthys Illustrated

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Illustrator Nephthys Foster has over 30,000 followers on Instagram and taught herself to draw, she tells us where inspiration strikes, and why New Malden needs a new karaoke bar

Launching Nephthys Illustrated in 2022, she was “driven by the confidence gained from my friends to share my work with others”. 

Firstly, tell us the story of Nephthys Illustrated… 

Nephthys Foster: I didn’t come from an art background, something that I am proud to say.

At the age of 16, I decided to drop out of further education and become a young carer for my father. Shortly after, I embarked on a 12-year journey as a nanny, and towards the end, I began teaching myself how to draw on weekends. 

It’s a great privilege to have transformed a dream into a career, spending my days doing what I love the most – capturing life’s little joys through art and design.

How did you get into painting and creating art?

Since I was little, I’ve been passionate about design – from fashion to food packaging. Although I didn’t realise it then, everything caught my eye. 

But being an artist never crossed my mind. In 2018, our flight got delayed returning from Sardinia. To pass the time, I started doodling on my Instagram stories and discovered a newfound love for it. Using savings from my nannying shifts, I invested in an iPad and spent hours watching YouTube tutorials on how to use drawing software. 

Every day, I challenged myself to draw new things. I’ve been learning on the job, and I still do to this day.

Where do you get inspiration from for new prints?

I draw inspiration from life itself – from savouring my favourite foods to spending time with the people I love. I like to think of my art as a joy journal that I am so grateful to be able to share with others.

Do you have a favourite medium to create in? 

Without a doubt, painting is my preference. Although I began with digital drawing, which helped me grasp various techniques, I’ve found that painting has become my favourite method. 

There’s no going back to erase mistakes with painting – it’s created in the moment, and I love that aspect of it.

What is your bestselling painting?

The ‘Bisou Bisou’ print caused quite a buzz on Instagram when it was first released last year.

Funnily enough, it was the one that took me the least amount of time to create and wasn’t initially planned for release. I guess people are drawn to its simplicity, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a little kiss or two?

And what is your favourite painting – and why?

My favourite painting is ‘Life with You, Is My Favourite Thing to Do’. I painted it after a challenging day in the studio where nothing went well. After a few glasses of wine, when everyone else had left, I decided to pick up the paintbrushes and remind myself why I paint; to bring joy. I created this piece for my partner and it’s something that truly came from the heart.

What are your top three favourite places to go in south London?

I’m a homebody who loves the city, but my heart truly belongs to my local spots.

My top three favourites are Nori in New Malden, a hidden gem above a car park and my ultimate spot for good quality yet reasonably priced sushi. 

‘I like to think of my art as a joy journal that I am so grateful to be able to share with others’

Cento Uno is a charming family-run pizzeria nestled in Surbiton.

And lastly, Han Bar, which sadly closed its doors late last year. To any potential investors out there, New Malden is in URGENT need of a karaoke bar – trust me and the girls on this one!

There are so many great makers in south London, what is the best thing about the scene?

For me, it’s the community. Coming from a non-art background, the south London makers community has meant everything to me. 

People are happy to share their experiences and knowledge about their art, and I owe a lot of my success to those small businesses that have guided me along the way.

I’ve seen you at (infamous south London) Salad Days Market, too – how did it feel taking your art to markets at first and people experiencing it in real life?

Honestly, I was EXTREMELY nervous, but with each experience, you become more confident in yourself and your work.

Participating in markets played a crucial role in building my business. Liv and Daisy – the Salad Days organisers – will always prioritise you and make sure that you are feeling your best on the day, which provides a lot of comfort.

As this is our home decor issue – what is the next piece you want to buy for your home?

I’ve got my sights set on a lamp from Hannah Simpson Studio – it’s at the top of my to-buy list! Hannah is a fantastic ceramist based in the same studios as me. She creates absolutely stunning pieces, which you can find online ( If you’re drawn to life’s quirky and wonderful things, I highly recommend checking her out. You won’t be disappointed.


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