In addition to meeting Brandilyn Tebo at a Bossladies meetup earlier this year, had the pleasure of meeting Nicci Arone, whose artwork immediately caught my attention upon walking into the Assembly Cafe. Nicci is as lovely and warm-spirited as the art she produces. Originally having been in the corporate world working many stressful hours, she let me in on a little secret: TO JUST TAKE THAT LEAP. She was already exploring her own artistic expressions when one day, she decided to take THAT LEAP and pursue a full-fledged art career. She hasn’t looked back since then.
The minute I saw Nicci’s art, I was immediately reminded of my oldest sister, who takes a liking for all things celestial. When we were younger, we decorated our room’s ceilings with glow in the dark stars and stared at them before dozing off to sleep. Once, my sister romantically “chased the moon” driving down the Pacific coast with a lover. She has even expressed getting a tattoo resembling the different moon phases. Today, her son (my nephew) often points out a moon whenever he finds one in a book and it is one of the first (Spanish) words he’s learned.
WE DREAM AMONG THE NIGHT SKY AND CAST WISHES UPON TWINKLING STARS. Nicci’s art is that delicate balance of light and airy and all sorts of whimsy. Some favorite works include Twin Flames, Cloud Worship 2 and Rosy + Slow and today, we get to dive deeper into her work with an interview below…
Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in art? Have you taken any art classes?
When it comes to art, I’m all about instinct and flow. Each creation is usually made in a single sitting. I have so much respect for artists who can come back to a work time after time, even for years. That’s not my process at all. I really don’t take it too seriously. At first I just made it for myself as kind of a meditation. For a long time I had a super stressful job and it was just a little personal escape. As far as art + design go, I did a semester at Goldsmith’s University in London years ago which was pretty focused on the creative arts in general and art history too. Then I also studied design at FIDM. So I guess yeah, I actually have studied art.
Do you practice art as a career, a hobby or a side hustle? How did you get to where you are in becoming an artist for a living?
The pursuit of art as a career has so far been a pretty solid balance of being a hobby and a side hustle. I also do social media branding and content creation for several LA brands. Honestly, I’m not sure I even know how I ended up here! While I was at my last job, which was essentially my first job straight out of college, I was lucky enough to have a ton of creative opportunities thrown my way. At first it was mostly editorial photo shoots. Then turned into graphic design. Which morphed into social media content creation + curation. All the while I was painting at home just for my own sanity…and then one day people I know started encouraging me to open it up to the world. So I did, and I’ve been pretty surprised since seeing how it positively affects new people who find it. It has a dreamy / celestial vibe I think people like to hold on to. It’s light and airy…never really that political or heavy.
“It’s cool seeing someone live the dream in our lifetime, it’s not so out of reach that way.”
What is your preferred medium and why?
I’ve experimented a lot with many different mediums, but at the moment I find the most comfort and flow with working on paper. The main component I use in the work is gouache, and then gold leaf and rose gold leaf almost always find their way in there too. Occasionally I’ll layer with ink and found objects like metal stars. Lately I’ve been experimenting with black paper, ink and oil sticks. That has been really cool and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Do you have a favorite artist? What draws you to that person’s work?
Oh man, this is such a loaded question. I could list all the greats and bore everyone to death. But I think what is probably more interesting is that I’m usually drawing inspiration from other up and coming artists who I find on social media. Heather Day really inspires me. She’s doing what I dream of, living as an artist while traveling around the world for inspiration. It’s cool seeing someone live the dream in our lifetime, it’s not so out of reach that way. Tappan Collective has so many other dope contemporary artists too.
I will say though, that while I was studying in London I was lucky enough to have some of the world’s best museums and galleries at my fingertips. And I can completely attribute my current interest in modern art to British artist Chris Ofili. Our work could not be more different, but I’ve just always admired the way he makes his work so personal and so political at the same time.
Can you remember one of the first things you drew/sculpted/painted/photographed etc.? What makes it memorable?
Haha, this is kind of a funny memory. When I was like 8, I wrote and illustrated this book called “The Ribbon that Brought me to Mars.” And it was about this little girl who entered her school’s science fair and won a first place blue ribbon. When she got home, she discovered the ribbon had magical powers and she could travel to space with it. So, she blasted off to Mars, which she discovered was in fact made of chocolate as she had thought her whole life. Then she met some rad aliens, and had a chocolate eating party. She was home in her bed safely by the next morning before her parent’s ever knew what was up. The illustrations were all what you’d imagine, normal kid drawings all unbalanced and full of character. But once she went to space I put all the illustrations on black paper, which is kind of a full circle moment because I’m doing it again now with my newest experimentation.
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I think it’s pretty easy to see, even when I want to hide it, that almost all my inspo comes from NASA imagery and space telescope photos in general. The colors, the shapes, and the mystery — it’s just endless inspo for me. I’ve always been pretty fascinated by the worlds outside of Earth.
Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre of art? How did it turn out?
Actually yes, what I’m doing now is the result of stepping outside of my comfort zone. I was pretty committed to photography and writing before I accidentally discovered the materials I’m using now. One day I went to Graphaids on La Cienega while I was on a break from my last job and wandered around the aisles until I found this sale section. There was a bunch of random gouache colors and watercolor paper. So I just grabbed what caught my eye and went home to experiment. The gold leaf came into play months later when I started using different color stories…it pretty much popped in my head spontaneously one day that I needed to incorporate it, and I just haven’t stopped since!
What is your dream project?
My dream is really to just continue to find new inspiration in each day, and then have the ability to create when the spark arrives. The biggest issue I’ve had in the last few years is not being available to create when inspiration strikes. That’s all different now so my dream project is to just live being available to creativity for all of my days!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve been focusing on a series inspired by Mars + Venus. These last couple months of my life have been pretty extraordinary, in both directions, meaning good and bad. There was a brief moment of magic surrounding some beautiful nights when I could see both planets in the sky and I’m using that fuel to create something new.
“I’ve always been pretty fascinated by the worlds outside of Earth.”
Commission inquiries: www.nicciarone.com/contact
All featured artwork by Nicci Arone