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Shakespeare Week Portraits

Nina Cosford’s William Shakespeare

Who painted it?

Nina Cosford


What is it made of?

Watercolour paint


Artist Biography

Nina Cosford is a freelance illustrator and lives in Hastings, UK. She has illustrated over twenty published books, including two she wrote and another she self-published. She has worked together with lots of companies including Apple, HBO, WaterAid, TATE, Radio Times, ITV, Lonely Planet, Netflix and Walker Books. She loves to travel and is often found people-watching, drawing faces and places wherever she goes. She was recently named one of the Top 20 Female Illustrators by Stylist Magazine.


About the Picture

This painting was made by Nina Cosford for a book called Shakespeare: Panorama Pop (Walker Books).

We asked Nina some questions about her Shakespeare portrait:


Why are Shakespeare's cheeks rosy in the picture?

When I draw people, I often give them rosy cheeks to add a little more colour and jolliness to their character. It's become part of my style and helps people to recognise my work too.


What is your favourite way to create paintings – do you like watercolours best for example?

I like watercolour painting the most because it allows me to paint something either soft and delicate or something strong and full of contrast. I like to build up my paintings in layers, making the colours richer as I add more and more to it. It can also be quite a relaxing process because it slows me down and takes more time than my usual drawing methods (using pens and pencils).


How did you choose what clothes he should wear?

I painted him wearing a simple black shirt and a white collar because this is the outfit you see him in most in portraits. It also shows the Elizabethan times in which he lived.


What was Shakespeare thinking about in this picture?

I wanted to paint him with a positive but focused expression, thinking about the next masterpiece he is about to write!


How old do you think Shakespeare is in this painting?

I think that he is in his mid to late 30s in this portrait perhaps...