Nico is a sydney-based artist, illustrator and graphic designer. We caught up with him as part of a 3 part Creator Spotlight series on the new sydney based collective The Night, in the lead up to their debut show this Friday at Work-Shop in Chippendale featuring; Nico, Ox & SMC3 Check out the event here
Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
Not really. As a child I was only interested in cookies and lighting fires.
How did you get into art?
I have enjoyed making art ever since I can remember. I hated sport as a child (and continue to as an adult), so I would sit and make art whilst my peers kicked balls etc.
Your art could be classified as “street art” however your upcoming show is in a gallery setting and some of the pieces are done on canvas/board and will be for sale. Do you think the term “street art” is still relevant and what does it mean to you?
I really don’t classify myself as a “street artist” or a “graffiti artist”. In my mind these terms have lost all of their meaning, as they have been thrown around by everyone over the last couple of years in particular. The terms themselves are not strictly defined, so what one person considers street art another person may consider graffiti. People try to define these terms based on different rules, but at the end of the day i’m more interested in making art rather than defining it.
I began painting walls seriously about 12 years ago, painting traditional letter-based graffiti. It was a natural progression for me as a child that was heavily into drawing. I remember vividly the first time that I saw a piece of graffiti as an infant. It was the most amazing thing that I had ever seen, it was so bright and loose and colourful and i loved the way that it sprawled so freely over the building it was covering. It was the closest thing to magic i had ever seen and i quickly became obsessed with it.
Graffiti provided me with the artistic equivalent of playing a sport in many ways. It allowed me to really focus my artistic training on a set of goals and disciplines that required years of learning, sketching, planning and technique development. It provided me with a social element as well and helped me forge relationships with other like minded artists that i still treasure. The adrenaline of painting graffiti is also something that imagine many of my peers got through playing sports, except mine was fused with visual creativity. I like to think of my graffiti painting days as my “sporting days”. As I got older, my graffiti lead me to study art and design and I was exposed to a whole new world of visual stimuli.
I eventually lost a lot of interest in painting traditional graffiti, and began to focus on creating new styles of design-based art with a variety of media. I have been doing that ever since. As someone who is very comfortable with spraypainting, it wasn’t long until i was applying the designs to walls.
Do you have a ‘day job’ that pays the bills? How do you manage this with your personal art? Time wise and attention wise.
I am a professional graphic designer/illustrator during the day. In terms of managing my work and my personal work, the key is to never stop. I work all day, then do my personal work all night. As a serious obsessive compulsive, I am very rarely not occupying myself with art or design. It’s just what I do. I am a big subscriber to the Bukowski quote: “find what you love and let it kill you”.
What advise would you give to up and coming artists or people who are thinking of focussing more on their own personal art?
Stop talking about making art and just make art. Make a mountain of art. if you do that something will happen on its own accord.
What does “Create or Die” mean to you?
It has a fairly literal meaning for me. Creating is my life. I have often wondered if i would still want to live without my eyes and hands. If I lost the ability to be creative I suspect that i would just fade away much like an elderly person who has lost their ability to work. Creating is not just a job or a hobby for me but more of a sick obsession. My life-force is inextricably tied to it.
Come join us for a beer this Friday & check out Nico’s new work:
6pm – 10pm
Work-shop // 86 Broadway, Ultimo, Sydney, Australia
Check out more of Nico’s work here: www.artofnico.com/