Anyone who has already been to the Fantasy in Basel will have noticed Nicole’s Art stand. The big picture of cinema star Johnny Depp in his most famous role as Jack Sparrow, next to it beautiful paintings of Wonder Woman, John Wick or simply Fantasy motives and in the middle of it all sits the likeable Nicole, looking at you with a beaming face. The artist and mother from Switzerland has a knack for bringing emotions on canvas. As Nicole will also be part of the Fantasy Basel from 13.-15.11.2020 (replacement date), we present her and her work.
Hello Nicole, thank you very much for your time. I am very happy to do this interview with you. Can you first tell us something about yourself, who is behind Nicole’s Art?
I am a daydreamer and like to live in my own world.
And if I wasn’t a married mum, I would be flying to the moon in a NASA spaceship 😉
Of course I don’t regret it at all that I stayed on the ground. I love my family and would not exchange them for anything in the world.
How would you describe your pictures to a blind person?
I would first describe the picture to the person in detail, and then what colours it has and whether it seems rather gloomy, sad or happy.
That way you can get an idea of it yourself. If the person then wants to, I’d explain to him/her what it means to me, which story is behind it.
Since when do you paint? And how did you learn it, or is it natural ability? Learning by doing or going to school?
I have been very interested in painting since I was a child. About 10 years old, I started to draw my own comics or sat in front of the TV with a sheet of paper and pencil and drew the characters in cartoon series like Sailor Moon, the Kickers or Captain Future etc. or I created my own flip-books. My biggest dream was always to be able to draw for a Disney production.
Over the years I developed myself further with painting and always tried out new things, learned from other artists or got tips. So I was my own teacher and still am (you never finish learning).
When did you take the first step to the public with your pictures and which one did you share with the public first? And why did you choose this particular picture?
That was in 2014, when I put my first picture on the web. A dragon’s eye. I was very proud of it, because it was the first time I painted on a bigger canvas. And the best thing is that it got a great home. With my dear cousin. It could not be better.
Just at the beginning I can imagine that the pricing of paintings is difficult, if you go too low, one might think the paintings are all crap, if you go too high nobody buys it. How do you handle it, or how did you do it at the beginning? Your pictures range from 300.- to several thousand Swiss Francs.
That’s right, it is very difficult to find the right middle path. I made the beginner’s mistake of setting the sales price below my materials’ costs. So the joy of having sold a painting was destroyed, because a) the painting is gone and b) I was still in the red. But it was only afterwards that I really became aware of this.
I thought a lot about it, how it would be best for me to calculate the price. Selling my paintings was never my goal, because I do not want to part with them. But I have to be able to part with them so that I can continue to paint new pictures. Hanging and storing everything in my home is not possible, I don’t have that much walls and space.
I set the prices so that I can cover the costs of materials, and with each picture I consider what I would or could spend on it. If I added all my hours, it would be too expensive. And I am not interested in making big money with it. Surely that would be great, but it is my hobby and I enjoy it, and I enjoy it even more when I see how the buyers are enjoying my painting or how it has a personal meaning for them.
For example, I once met a woman who bought one of my paintings, because it reminded her of her deceased daughter. That was totally beautiful.
I think your pictures are incredibly beautiful and I think many people agree with me. Have you ever received negative feedback and how do you deal with this criticism?
First of all, thanks for the compliment. That’s always good.
There are people who tell me directly that they don’t like this particular picture or the style and I think it’s totally ok. Because not everybody has to like everything. The tastes are different, I don’t like everything that others do. That’s the way it should be.
However, my biggest critic is myself. But that motivates me a lot to keep going.
You paint musicians, actors, Marvel heroes, but also fantasy pictures, where do you get the inspiration for that?
My greatest inspiration is my girls. They sometimes give me an idea with a few words or tell me directly what I could paint.
Or when I’ve just been to a concert or the movies and afterwards I really want to put the film character, a singer, a guitarist etc. on paper or on canvas.
That’s what made me meet one of my favourite drummers. After a concert I painted him on paper and put the result on Instagram. His wife became aware of it and so he saw it too. He wanted to buy the painting. But then I could arrange a meet and greet for the next concert. That was a totally great experience.
You exhibit your paintings at the Fantasy Basel and sell them there. Do you work on special pictures that the audience might like or do you just get inspired spontaneously and take what you have at the moment with you?
Both. I take with me what I have at the moment and would also do additional work on fitting pictures/drawings.
Which picture would you like to paint but did not dare to do it yet? Is there such a picture?
There is an idea that I have had for a long time and have not yet managed to start, because I don’t quite know what it should look like. A huge picture with Fuchur, the dragon from the Neverending Story, and the Universe, with lots of details. I haven’t found the motivation to start with it yet, because I know that I will need infinite time for it. It should become a picture where you can look at and start dreaming.
Is there also the situation that you have a picture in your head, try to put it on canvas/paper and it just doesn’t work? If so, what do you do then? Do you give up or do you try again later?
I’ve been in situations like this before, yes. The reason is then mostly because I am not yet completely convinced of my idea.
Or also that I am not in such a good shape and have the feeling that I can’t do it right then.
Then I put everything aside and try again later. And most of the time the result will be completely different and better than what I had in mind first.
As an artist, what would be the biggest honour for you? Having your paintings exhibited at a special place? Having an artist that you have painted pay attention to your work or something special?
I’ve been a BIG Johnny Depp fan since I was a kid, and of his films I liked the Pirates of the Caribbean series best. That’s why it would be the biggest honour for me if he saw my painting of him as Jack Sparrow. I would probably go crazy with joy.
You have two children who are already busily drawing, do you teach them or do you just let them develop naturally?
I don’t teach my two girls directly. But when I take out paper and pencil and start painting, they sit down and paint after me or something of their own. And sometimes I like their ideas so much that I copy them instead the other way round.
You have always done an exhibition with your paintings at the end of the year, but this year you have announced to do it differently. You will accept commissions, that means that people can express a wish for a painting and you will put it on canvas, is that right?
I have had requests for an paintings over and over again. Because of my exhibition at the end of the year, I found it very difficult to paint commissions because I lacked the time and I also wanted to get my own ideas out of my head. The client always had to wait a very long time. Therefore I decided this year to skip my exhibition and to concentrate on commissions instead.
I imagine that this is very difficult, isn’t it? More difficult than painting something out of your own mind?
It is really difficult to put down on paper something from another mind, because everybody has different ideas. That’s why I say directly when I realize that I won’t be able to do it.
Are there any pictures you had to reject so far? Because you couldn’t paint it or didn’t want to?
Yes. I’m not at all fond of painting cars, motorcycles or landscapes. I admire the artists who can do that. But I think it’s good when everyone has their own speciality.
Is there a painting you have done that you could never part with? Even if you were offered a million? If so, what is it?
When I just had an empty head again and didn’t put anything on canvas/paper, a good friend told me to paint my heart. So my picture was created that I would not give away for any money in the world.
It is a girl who sleeps curled up between green leaves. It should radiate peace. There is a lot of green in the picture, because it is the colour of hope.
For me it means that I have found peace with myself.
Have you ever thought about teaching your painting skills?
Many times. You’re not the first person to ask me that. But I haven’t been able to get excited about this idea.
Do you experience something like a painter’s block sometimes? What do you do when there’s no inspiration or nothing works?
I know such block very well. In a situation like this, I put everything aside and take a break. This break can last one or two weeks. After that I have lots of ideas and also much more joy and desire to get to a canvas with brush and paint.
Such a painting blockade can sometimes be very helpful.
You are also an artist in your everyday job – as a make-up artist, is that right? How does this job look like?
As a make-up artist I work on call. For e.g. a photographer’s shooting or a wedding make-up, for clients who produce a promotional film, at film events or Halloween make-up. My favourite clients are the film event crew, I’m always looking forward to being there, because I can really get creative. Not only because of the work itself, but also because I have never had an employer with so much heart.
What would be your biggest dream when it comes to painting, what would you like to achieve?
Actually, I have never thought about what I actually desire or want to achieve. It would be nice to have my own gallery where I have enough space for all my pictures and you can come by.
For me it is the most beautiful thing to see the joy someone finds in one of my pictures.
Thank you very much for your time.
More about Nicole here: www.facebook.com/Nicolesart2/
photos of the works & start photo: Nicole’s Art , Exhibition photos: Sandy Mahrer