A few years ago I met two of the Guerilla Girls, and did some group projects with them. I remember that day somewhat vividly; my previous class had gotten out late, and when I arrived out of breath to the classroom, everyone was transfixed on what the GG’s were saying. Introductions had been already done, and I honestly felt like I was walking into a Planet of the Apes movie. Hah. I quickly took my seat. Later that night I went to a performance they put on, which was interesting to say the least, and a bit radical in it’s far-fetched nature. To be a man in that audience… terrifying.
Despite the ever growing shadiness that is CraigsList, I decided to check out my city. Perusing this past week, I see craft fairs, gallery openings, painting classes, and a bevy of other strange things people think are important forms of expression. Some are disturbing, clearly student work trying to pass off as virtuosos and many ranting over RACC. There are also lots of links to online communities for local artists and abroad to create profiles, a myspace for artists basically– no thank you.
One entry, (only a couple lines long) caught my atttention.
There are opportunities in different genres for artists to get phenomenal exposure on an international level. There are possibilities for the right artist to showcase their work at the largest art exhibitions in the country as well as gallery shows. I market work in front of companies who buy artwork for a living. If interested in finding our more about the possibilities I have, contact me expressing your interest and a link where I may be able to view your work.
Hmmm. While this didn’t sound like much, it really stood out from the rest. It was 1. direct 2. free of spelling/grammatical errors and 3. honest (sounding).
What the heck? I’ll deal. So I sent a short but sweet email to this guy, with a link to my online portfolio. This is what transpired:
He liked my art, said he wasn’t sure if he could help me, but that he would “talk to his superiors”… He also asked me how long I had been doing digital art. Still not trusting this dude, I responded enthusiastically, (as I do with all potential) saying that any direction would be much appreciated. He responded in a timely manner (a first for craigslist!) with his phone number and a well wishing.
Good deal. Now what are the chances I can use this name or number to figure this out before I call? I Googled the number and it led me to this:http://www.art-exchange.com/ . Hmm. I am planning on calling after the holiday hussle and bussle is over, but I am not crossing my fingers.
1.Why are you an artist?
I have always loved art, but what makes me an artist is the fact that I love creating. For some reason, I was given this drive to “make” and I’m always thinking of new ways to convey something. I hardly ever sit still, and if I am that’s probably because I’m daydreaming or thinking of my next project. Check out www.nikki.7down8up.com to see my work!
2. Is there a concept behind your work? If so, please tell us about it.
My work stems from the struggle within myself to find my place, my niche, or where I belong. My mom is full Japanese, while my father is German/Irish/Scottish. I was born and raised in Hawaii, and was always surrounded by my mom’s side of the family, (all Japanese). I grew up in a house that had belonged to my mother’s uncle, he was an art collector, who often took trips to Japan to acquire more. Thus I grew up around very traditional Japanese pieces, kakemono, Shinto style interior designs, woodblock prints, and silk screens. My grandparents were also a huge influence on me as a child, and taught me most of what I know about our culture. That being said, it is important to note that I looked like a white kid with red hair. Basically any local who saw me, probably had a lot of assumptions about me, my upbringing, and my loyalty to my home. I didn’t exactly blend in and I found that my identity changed depending on what kind of situation I was in, and what was called for… to survive and thrive in the islands.
Attending a university in Oregon, I had no problems adapting, and was better equipped to observe the locals (from my previous environment), trying to work the new system. This started me on my investigation of identity formation in our culture. The backgrounds that come together to form my identity dominate in both physical and traditional ways, illustrating that one ethnicity may be absorbed by the more dominant or accepted side. Exploring this tension in myself, gives insight as to how identity is not just the state of remaining the same.
3. Why do you use the medium that you use?
I use pen and ink (or Adobe Photoshop for my digital pieces)! I love detail– having control of the medium is a must, to get my desired effect. My strongest skill would have to be drawing in pen, so I took that to a new level by doing it on canvas. I just love the way I can blend colors and “paint” while still staying true to my style.
4. Are there symbols in your work? If so, please elaborate.
Tons of symbols. I’ve always loved eyes, not expressive ones, but blank stares. It represents mystery and the unknown, that impenetrable fortress of the mind. I use a lot of fish (koi) which remind me so fondly of my younger years (I also happen to be a Pisces, but I really don’t follow that junk), specific flowers like lotus which stands for rebirth/renewing, also– trees… I just love using trees. They seem like arms coming out of arms trying to reach up into the sky. I like stairs, bridges… things that take us places or lead elsewhere, doors, windows, masks, clouds and other imagery to create a dreamlike quality to my pictures. That probably didn’t make sense, but I could go on forever.
5. Tell us why your work has so much information squeezed into it–why the collage of images?
I realized somewhat later in life that I feel things very strongly, whether it be joy, frustration, etc. It was important for me to create pieces that made people FEEL something. Personally, I find myself drawn to the images that are complicated and beg the viewer to dig deeper… anything that reveals more on second inspection. I also think that people are more affected when they are confronted with imagery that overwhelms them, whether it be with color or through design. Adding the conceptual nature of my work I feel like I am being very systematic in creating chaos, while still making a thing of beauty. I think that explains why I have such an obsession with space, and emphasizing exactly where one form ends and the next begins.
6. What is the role of the artist in our society? and in Oregon?
As far as the popular artists in our society, I would say their role is to continue to try to shock us, create novelty pop culture pieces, or to highlight/rethink current issues. As far as the role of the artist in Oregon… it’s hard to say. I moved here to further my education, and since graduating made the next logical step by moving to Portland. I see a lot of artists trying to replicate the natural beauty of the area, while others seem to have a style that looks very similar to much of what is already out there. I feel that the Oregonians like to put their alternate views and lifestyles on canvas. That says quite a bit.
7. Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?
I would hope that 5 years more experience would lend itself to a more refined version of my current style. Being able to have solo shows in galleries and see my artwork shown internationally would be amazing. I am also excited by the possibility that I could be living in another city, or maybe another country. I lived in London a couple years ago, and absolutely loved it. I would also like to spend time in Japan.
8. What are your ultimate goals as an artist?
To continue to create beautiful pieces of art with substance. Art that speaks deeper about our society, and humans in general. To utilize my style and illustrate perceptions that people can connect with would reach one goal as an artist. My ultimate goal would be turning this passion for art into my full-time job… that would be a dream come true.
9. What does art mean to you?
Art has the potential to do so many things… lift spirits, make people laugh, imagine, dream, bring back childhood memories… it’s what I know. Art is where I can make something that existed only in my mind a reality. That is a powerful feeling.
Artist’s Website: http://www.nikki.7down8up.com/
Mid Sept/Oct I took a little break from drawing.
Walked over 38 blocks of Portland… in heels! What a fun night—-
I went to my friend’s apartment, one I had been to many a time. I got off the max at the right stop, yet still managed to walk to the wrong cross street for the trolley. A-gain. Made it to the east tower and had just enough time to take the puppy for some exercise before we went to meet up with the last of our group. Both of us walked downtown to meet up with Marisa, who just got off of work and we all trotted down 15 blocks to Saucebox. I had never been there before, but I recalled my roommates trying it out. Asian fusion I thought. And I was correct. We made it there for happy hour, where I got a SBX daiquiri (delicious and potent) and a Miyako Burger (teriyaki glazed hamburger with wasabi mayo, roasted red chiles and avocado slices on lettuce). We hung out there for awhile, as it had a great atmosphere and cheap, great tasting food. I will say, that was one of the best burgers I have ever had (and only $4 on happy hour!!). I cannot wait to take more first timers to try such deliciousness! Justin tried the Box Car (an equally good drink, quite a bit more “potent”) haha and the sweet potato spring roles with chile sauce, and the curry pad thai. Yum. I was so full after that burger!
From there we walked uphill to Whole Foods to look at cannolis (they had mini ones too, all of em with chocolate chips, didn’t try one though), then walked further up and went to PGE park to watch some of the baseball game, hiked all the way up (23 blocks) to NW 23rd to go to Papa Hayden’s. They got the sampler platter, and I got what will now be called my all time fave. Georgian Peanut Butter Mousse Torte. (see pic above!)
Thankfully we took the streetcar back which goes all the way to their place! Armani was happy to see us (and is the most amazing puppy model), and we put on some home video’s from Marisa’s traveling and living abroad Japan. I got a firsthand look at Korea, Okinawa, Tokyo, Nara, Kyoto, and all the cool things to do while there. Making senbei, feeding the deer in Nara, finding geishas in kyoto, eating takoyaki/okonomiyake/parfaits/ and more 🙂 Can’t wait to take my own trip into Japan. I am more motivated now that ever to brush up on my Japanese and kanji. WOo hoo!
Yesterday– Busy at work. Happy hour lunch. Sushi next to a Roloff! Haha. Photoshoot. Guitar Hero. TB amazing drumming. Taco Bell run!