Thursday, May 29, 2014

Artist Spotlight: NATASSIA NICOLAU

NORTHWESTERN NOIR is the upcoming solo exhibition of artist Natassia Nicolau's incredible paintings.The show opens Tuesday June 10th, 9 pm, at the Tin Can. We've been working hard to get the show ready, and Natassia sat down with Magic Brotherhood to answer some questions about her work and background.

MAGIC BROTHERHOOD: Your upcoming show at Tin Can is called Northwestern Noir. Please tell us a little bit more about your title choice.

NATASSIA NICOLAU: Northwestern Noir seemed to embody the feel of most of my artwork. I've always been drawn to the muted colors and quietude of a light rain, and the short time I lived in the Northwest was one of the most visually inspiring of my life. I'm a California native and I love the sunshine and beaches, but there's something about the dim light and fog that will always feel a little like a homesick nostalgia for me.

MB: Where did you grow up? Did your upbringing influence your artmaking?

NN: I grew up all over Southern California. From the desert to the edges of LA, from the blight of the Orange Curtain to my current home a short drive to the border. My dad is an architect, and that had a huge impact on my appreciation of the arts. But mostly art was an escape from the experience of a high school in Irvine that was largely made up of people who were nothing like me. I always preferred being in my own headspace to trying to compete in a game that I didn't know how to play. It wasn't until I got out on my own and met other artists and performers that I really started to delve into the creativity, and I'm grateful to San Diego and its wide array of characters for opening me up to that.

MB: Where did you study art? Did this have an impact on you as an artist?

NN: I studied animation at LCAD in Laguna Beach for a year, with designs to break into the video game industry and change everything about it to my liking. It didn't take long to learn that the industry doesn't bend to you, you have to bend to it to even hope to break into the extremely competitive field. I learned more than I can quantify, if nothing else to try to hold myself to the incredibly high standards of the other students there. And I also learned that I'm not very good at doing what other people want. If there's one thing I'm a rebel about, it's when people tell me there's a certain way things should be done when it comes to my art. So I create art for my own gratification now, and take on projects that inspire me, and nothing could make me happier.

MB: What are we going to see at your opening Tuesday June 10th?

NN: A whole lot of muted color palettes! I had (and to be fair, am still in the midst of) a slight obsession with portraiture because I'm fascinated with the structure of the human face and the subtlety of expression. My favorite medium at the moment is ink and inkwash, because of the limitations they present. And my greatest weakness is landscapes. So there'll be a little bit of all of those things.

MB: Who or what inspires you?

NN: The answers here might be obvious, but music and places more than anything. I'm lucky to have a lot of inspiring friends who are artists here in San Diego. And one of the most motivating things to me is hearing someone else talk about the things they are passionate about. A solo trip to Big Sur never hurts either.

MB: Who are you favorite artists?

NN: I'm a big fan of clean illustration, so Alphonse Mucha, J. C. Leyendecker, and I'll take the whole book on Art Deco. I also think that concept art is a grossly overlooked art form, and takes an incredible amount of knowledge, instinct, and speed to create almost-classical digital paintings. A sadly disproportionate amount of it goes uncredited, too.

MB: Favorite musicians?

NN: My forever go-to's for a night of arting are Tom Waits and Nick Cave. The list of favorites would make this a very long article, but if I had to pick my most recent listens I'd say: 16 Horsepower, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Neutral Milk Hotel, Timber Timbre, Josh Tillman, Left Lane Cruiser, and The Kills.

MB: An homage to Mr. James Lipton-- favorite curse word?

NN: I'd love throw some artistic-outcast oddball answer out there, but the truth is I say 'fuck' a LOT. So, fuck.

MB: What can we look forward to from Natassia Nicolau in the future-- distant, near, tomorrow, anything exciting?

NN: A few things to put in your calendars! June 14th will be the album release of Buried by The Midnight Pine at The Hideout, which will feature my artwork on the cover (and excellent music, so you should go for that reason above all else). Al Howard is very soon releasing a book packed to the brim with short stories and illustrations by yours truly. I'm working on a short graphic novel titled Alice is Leaving, which has been on hiatus for a while but will be back on track soon. And I always post current projects and information about future shows at

For more info, check out Natassia's tumblr
and be sure to come to Tin Can Tuesday, June 10th, for the opening of NORTHWESTERN NOIR featuring the music of the talented SISTER JUANITA.

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