Nikki Catalano is a local Sydney based artist and designer. She has
been into creative things since she was very little. Her mother Vivi loves art
and her work involves art with children. Nikki and her sister Rosie were her
mother’s testing ground when she was studying early childcare. They always had
paper, pencils and paints laid out on tables for them and were encouraged to
get into all sorts of creative activities. Nikki always loved art at school and
then went and studied at Sydney
College of the Arts and
where she completed First Class Honours majoring in Object, Art and Design. She
then wanted to cross disciplines and went on to The College of Fine Arts to
study a Bachelor of Digital Media. She is now studying an Advanced Diploma in
Illustration and Design at Enmore Tafe. Nikki’s work has been recognised both
nationally and internationally. She has exhibited extensively including Berlin and Paris.
She has won many awards and been selected for honorable exhibitions such as
Object Galleries ‘New Design’ showcasing the best new talents. Nikki has also
been recognised as Australia’s
top 40 young designers in Monument Magazine as well as having been published
for her work in Vogue Living. Nikki has always loved learning new things and
being around other creative people keeps her inspired. Since school she has
always carried around her little diary where she draws, writes ideas and adds
inspiring images. Illustration has become her true passion even though her
creativity has crossed many disciplines including glass blowing, animation, jewelery and photography.
An interview with Nikki...
Where are you based? How would you describe your studio?
I started off working from home in Glebe, Sydney. When it became too small I moved into Locus Studio with other illustrators and artists. Although I loved it there, I started a full time design job at Reddo Media Services which is this amazing new company designing apps. I'm designing for magazines such as Russh and Culture magazine, creating digital editions of their beautiful magazines. It is a super exciting area to be in and there is a lot of room for creativity. I continue to illustrate in the evenings and weekends when I'm not working back.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a gorgeous book called Archie the Pirate Bear. It is a lovely story about a little bear's adventure and all the friends he meets along the way. I was commissioned by a woman called Isobel Robinson. The illustrations are water colour based and Archie is very sweet indeed. We will be launching in a few months so keep an eye out. I will be sure to announce it on my blog as soon as it is printed and available. Hopefully we will be able to sell signed copies at the Finders Keepers in December. I also plan to create new illustrations, a body of work more black and punchy colours. It's difficult to describe but i can see it in my mind's eye, quite bold and edgy. Now that I have settled into my new job more I will begin this series of work and get back into illustrating more.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The first thing that came to mind is nature, geometric forms and patterns. Nature certainly creates some magnificent patterns and colours! The second thing that comes to mind is Japanese art, I was exposed to Hokusai's Mt Fuji and that magnificent crested wave when I was a kid. My grandparents spent some time living in Japan and and their appreciation got passed down through the generations I believe. The third thing that comes to mind is my own imagination. Probably a lot of my illustrations you see are childhood imaginings. The ability to wonder and create fictional characters. I was also inspired by children's' books. I use to wonder what it would be like to be miniature. Live in the world as a teeny tiny person. How big would grass be! I could live in a glass bottle, like that book about a mouse did. Of course Alice in Wonderland tickled my imagination as well. I must have been influenced by that rushing rabbit, so many of my illustrations have little rabbits.
Can you tell us if there is a story behind one of your artworks?
I think that 'In the Garden' depicts this Alice and wonderland theme quite well. I also really enjoyed dressing this girl in her pretty dress, with little buttons. I began this drawing as a botanical study in my step sister's back yard. We were there sitting in the sun and I started with the lavender and before I knew it I was drawing little characters, I can't help myself!
If you were an animal/colour/object - what would you be?
This answer would change day by day. I go though colour phases. Today I would be fuchsia and a beautiful teal and sky blue with a punch of bright yellow, pink and grass green. Or, I would be a rabbit, very soft and in theme with the rest my my interview. I like the soft fur on a rabbits belly.