Nicole Kristiana Studio

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CreativPaper Magazine Interview

See it here!

We have only scratched the surface with regards to identifying the species
that inhabit our planet. In their myriad of forms and colours, they
each hold a wealth of knowledge that's just waiting to be tapped while
playing an important role in the planet 's ecology. Artist Nicole Kristiana
certainly seems to capture the beauty of these animals in her work.
Ranging from bison to foxes, butterflies and even the living fossil that is
the nautilus. She shares her studio with her adorable pets, Barnaby and
Miss Kitty and was an absolute joy to interview. Read on below.

Do you think we could all benefit
from making an occasional
inventory of things that make us
happy to give us perspective?

Yes, if you're taking inventory
of things that make you happy,
it means things your reminding
yourself of what you're grateful for.
It gives you peace.
A happiness inventory makes you
happier, which opens you up for
attracting positivity, and it
perpetuates a positive cycle.
Knowing what truly makes you
happy also helps your mind to navigate
through the muck of
influence from advertising , media
and society. News media, at least in
America, bases its results in
generating fear, which causes an
immediate reaction from people,
but it takes one away from
happiness by causing artificial
Advertising keeps telling you that
you cannot be happy without
something or some service. It
appeals to your ego and tells it that
it deserves more, so it causes you to
be dissatisfied.

Society is endlessness telling you
that you need to be everything but
who you are and where you are in
your life. One of the best ways to
combat all these negative influences
is to know what makes you
happy. Once you take stock of your
happiness, it's easier to recognize
and reject these outside influences.

Are you originally from Bellefonte,

No. I was born in New York City.
We moved to the suburbs when I
was about 4, so I don't remember
living in the city. We were middle
class, living in Monroe , NY, but ,
since my parents were both
foreign-born, Estonian and Irish,
they were very education-oriented.
I was able to attend the private
Tuxedo Park School, which had
and still has a positive influence in
my life regarding the philosophy,
art, fine education and lifestyle.
Around the age of 11, we moved to
the suburbs of Philadelphia.
We lived right next to the Arts and
Crafts Community of Rose Valley,
PA, which, serendipitously, has ties
through architecture and
lifestyle to Tuxedo Park. Both of
these communities value the arts,
nature, self-government and
interactive education. From there, I
often moved around the
Philadelphia area, then, to
Chicago for school, and eventually,
we bought our home in Bellefonte,
DE, an artsy community, self-governed
, in North Wilmington, DE.
Bellefonte is close to Arden, DE,
which was founded by the same
architect who founded the
Community of Rose Valley, PA.
None of this was planned, I just
naturally gravitate to these areas
and feel my art reflects my natural
attraction to the Arts and Crafts
aesthetic and philosophies .

What's it like living there? Is it a
tightly knit community?

Bellefonte, DE, is a very small
community. Delaware, as a whole,
is very small. Everyone knows
everyone . Here, we know our
political representatives by sight, if
not, in person.
Within a few questions, most
people can find someone who
someone they meet knows or is
related to. Our little town has about
1,200 residents. There is the artsy
faction of musicians and artists , the
retirees , those associated with the
fire company and some people
belonging to religious groups.
Overall, we work together. One
of the bigger annual events is the
Bellefonte Arts Festival. The fire
house holds an event that day. The
artists line the streets with their
tents, musicians are scheduled to
play all day long, people host their
yard sales on that day, and folks
in the community volunteer their
time to work various events.

What attracted you to making art
in the first place?

At first, it was simply who I was. In
nursery school, we had a
project making wrapping paper out
of dipping halves of citrus fruits in
a paint and placing them on paper.
I envisioned these prints as
stepping stones in a pond, and
adamantly requested I be able to
properly finish my piece on the
easel because the water needed to
be a solid blue.
I had a whole nature scene in my
mind even at that young age.
Later, art was simply something I
was good at and gave me an
identity. In school, when I was in
5th grade, my design for the annual
book sale invitation cover was
chosen out of all the other
classes to be the winner. I was so
very proud. I'd worked hard and
had won out, even against the 8th
graders. I remember a classmate
telling other children I cheated and
that my mother had to be a
volunteer at the event and had
coached me as to the theme.
I felt jilted, but, also, even prouder,
as, even though my mother loved
the prestige and potential future of
having me attend a great school,
she never had a thing to do with
me or it.
I knew then that my art was mine ,
I could rely on it, even despite what
the little girl had said. I went on
to win more contests, awards and
scholarships in art at school.
In high school, art was a way for
me to process dark emotions. It
helped me to feel through some
painful experiences. My mother
was very mentally ill, and my father
was an alcoholic.
School and society had told me I
was crazy. They tried to put me on
psych medicines and were
endlessly making me out to be
a terrible reactive teenager, just
fraught with misguided hormones
and angst. In those days, parents
were never wrong or bad; it was
always the teenager's fault.

I was so trapped at the time, so
powerless. I was reacting naturally
to an unnatural situation, and no
one would believe me. They were
trying to punish me for something
that wasn't my doing. Creating art
gave me an outlet for all that confusion
and injustice and kept me
Without it, I don't know how I
would have ended up. From there,
whenever I didn't have art in my
life, too busy focusing on boys, or
being a singer for a Goth band, I
would begin to feel empty , and the
feeling was progressive. The longer
I didn't do art, the more unhappy
I would become, until I learned to
make art a daily practice. It, like
being in nature, is fundamental to
my well-being. Art has always been
there for me. When I need it most,
art provides me with the money I
need. It supports me
emotionally and helps me give back
to the world.

How important is meditation to
you as an artist?

In one word, extremely. When I am
working on a piece, I am often in
a deep state of meditation. I am so
focused; I am unaware of anything
and everything around me. I hear
nothing. All I know is the paint, the
paper, the colours, the
composition, the feel of the brush,
the amount of water, etc., etc. It
allows me to shed all the influences
of the outside world and focus on
just one thing.
I also meditate when I walk in
nature. It helps me to clear my
mind so that I can see freshly. Most
of the inspiration for the patterns
in my pieces comes from nature.
To really see patterns in nature, you
have to see. . but see, and one
cannot do that properly when
thoughts of bills, social
distractions, politics, and all other
day-to-day concerns are
clouding you. I find that connecting to nature allows for meditation,
and then it reveals it self to me, so I
can work with and reflect it in my

Is there a personal goal you would
like to achieve apart from your

Well, I do have my bucket list of
things I'd like to experience before
I die, some grander than others.
I'd like to see pink dolphins in the
Amazon. I'd like to take a hot air
balloon ride over fall foliage in the

I'd like to have a write-up in the
New York Times Art & Design
Section some day. I'd like to write
and illustrate a children's book. I'd
like to buy back the family farm my
grandmother worked so hard for,
and my mother sold for pennies.

But, other than some of those, I
just strive to be the best person I
can be. I can always be kinder. I
can always be more healthy. I can
always do better. I want to set a
solidly good example of being a decent
human being for my son. My
goal is to create a well balanced life,
which, is not as easy as it sounds.

You studied art for over 12 years
at five different universities,
Could you tell us a bit more about

Sure. I just studied and studied.
I have been so lucky in my life to
learn from dozens of amazing artists/
teachers. In middle school, I
took summer and evening classes
at our local community arts centre.
In high school, there was a
scholarship program to take
Saturday classes at Moore College
of Art. I took both classes every
Saturday for all four years. They offered
Summer Classes as well. I did
that for one summer, and for the
other two summers, I was part of
the AP Arts Program at Skidmore
I had been accepted to the High
School for the Creative and
Performing Arts high school but
wasn't allowed to attend. My
parents were too concerned about
my academics. After high school,
I wanted to go to Art School, but,
again, wasn't allowed to attend.
My parents and society endlessly
warned of how I could always "go
to art school later, but it was smarter
and safer to go to a regular college
for my future: ' I first attended
Drew University. I failed out but
did well in the art classes.
Next, I went to Bryn Mawr
College and majored in art there.
After that, for a while, I worked in
advertising as so many
creative people get stuck doing,
and stopped doing art for about six
years. I became very depressed. I
became quite a fatty.
I quit opening a coffee shop that
went bust during that time. I was
craving artists and musicians,
without fully realizing it was me
who needed to do the art.
Eventually, I began taking
classes again at a local art centre
and moved to a new area outside

Are there certain objects or species
you are drawn back to paint
on a regular basis?

Yes. Butterflies. I incorporate a
butterfly in every piece I make. It
serves as a symbol to me to always
be open to evolving, and it reminds
me that all good things in my life
are preceded by me seeing butterflies.
Whenever I see lots of butterflies,
whether, in life or images, it's an
indicator that I'm on the right path
and going in the right direction.
They reassure me that I'm going
the right way. In my artworks, I use
them as a signature. I also use them
to balance out the composition.
Their placement in my artworks is
very conscious.
Tell us about your lovely pets,
Barnaby and Miss Kitty?
Ahh, my beautiful creatures. They
bring me joy everyday. Barnaby is a
four-year-old Golden Doodle.
He's almost 90 lbs and resembles a
very large teddy bear. Miss Kitty is
a lovely long-haired tuxedo cat. She
is beautiful, and, she's quite aware
of it. They are as many friends as
can be expected.
They both love to share the couch
with me. They also have a love for
the particular deli sandwich I get.
The sit, lined up together,
expecting each a morsel in-turn .
I don't believe I've had my whole
Wawa turkey hoagie in 4 years,
and I'm very happy to share! My
childhood experiences left me with
some PTSD, so my animals do a
great deal to alleviate the
They are always with me. Miss
Kitty rarely leaves my side when
I'm sick or injured. Barnaby comes
with me wherever I can take him.
He comes to the galleries with me.
He goes back and forth to my son's
school. He's by my side now. My
brother says he's my familiar.

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