COUNCIL surveyor by day and accomplished cartoonist by night – a Coventry artist has depicted the city’s youth culture in a unique way for more than five years.
Nick Shingler, a senior building consultant and surveyor at Warwick District Council, leads a double life as an illustrator and cartoonist.
He created the much-loved cartoon ‘The Cov Kids’ which presents elements of the city’s culture through the eyes of its youth.
His work is currently on display at the former Coventry Evening Telegraph building – which is used now as a ‘Pop-up arts space’ -and will remain until work begins to turn the 1950s building into a unique hotel in the summer.
He was not a Coventry kid himself, but adopted what he described as the city’s “unique and humble” culture when he came to Coventry in the 1980s – and he has never looked back.
Nick said: “I have always tried to promote Coventry and how great and diverse a place I think it is.
“And at last with the City of Culture status we are all saying the same thing and bringing the arts, the youth and the culture together in a cohesive way.
“I have been here half my life and I chose to come here – I was not sent to Coventry.
“I have always loved the place. I married a Coventry girl, I thought there were so many good things about the city that needed publicising and promoting – So I started doing these drawings which heavily feature local places and local culture.”
Nick has visited many of the city’s schools, libraries and charities to provide workshops for young people in Coventry to find stimulation through drawing.
His most recent cartoon workshop featured heavily in the bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and continues to play a role in connecting young people to what he considers the city’s under-appreciated arts scene.
His City of Culture project consisted of a large illustrated map of the city centre depicting its historic landmarks.
The children from his workshop attached cartoons characters they had drawn themselves onto his own hand-drawn facade.
He added: “There are aspects of the city’s culture that go unnoticed and I’m hoping to try and pull it all together and, in particular, show kids who are in the city and participating in the arts that whatever they’re into there’s a chance they can do it here successfully.
“I try to encourage a sense of belonging in the community and celebrate the city’s youth being integral to its culture.
“The message from my workshops should be: “We learn and play together here in Coventry- We are ALL the Cov Kids.”
“And the Cov Kids’ time has come.”
Mr Shingler recently ran a workshop at the Shop Front Festival in the city centre and has provided illustration for numerous theatre companies.
He was honoured to attend the 60th anniversary celebrations for the Belgrade Theatre – a company to which he has contributed a number of projects and designs.
And he has also joined Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) to encourage creativity and artistic pursuits among the city’s more under-represented children.
Nick’s latest cartoon was drawn for the Earlsdon May Day festival – in the ward he has lived in since he moved to Coventry.
Some of his art work can be seen on his Twitter account: https://twitter.com/nickshingler
*Nick Shingler’s The Cov Kids cartoon is signing up for the Coventry Observer. Look out for them in the future editions.