My name is Nicola, and I love to draw cute animals and print them onto clothing for my shop, Nicola and the Newfoundlander. I also make fun, functional pieces for the home, like clocks, robot planters and switch plates using reclaimed wood that my brother Klaas collects. I work from my cube-shaped studio in Connecticut that my pop designed. It has huge windows so me and my dog Otter watch owls, deer, fox, stray kitties and woodpeckers while I work.
As a kid I was super shy, but I always loved three things: running around and getting dirty, making things, and giving those things away. This is kind of who I am today, although not as shy. I’m kind of silly and I like to make fun of myself as often as possible. I also love to work. I get obsessed; I put my head down and build stuff. I turn 39 in a couple of days, and I still get just as excited about creating as I did when I was six.
I’m a very restless maker: I love working on new projects, new designs, new anything for my shop. I need to be working towards something or I get static and boring. The best way to avoid this is by making things non-stop and learning from other people. I’m happiest when I’m working on a new piece. For me, that perfect moment is when I’m sitting at my work table and figuring out how to turn my thought into an object. It’s messy and sometimes tragic, but it’s the best part of who I am. This is what drives me.
I like to keep things simple, so I hand-draw 75% of my screens. I’m a bit averse to adopting new technology in my life, even though I love everything contemporary and modern. I’ve used the same $20 burner phone for the last five years, but I also love collaborating with artists who push my brain into new places, like making solar-powered night lights or cutting pendants with a CNC.
One of my favorite customers at my booth in Union Square told me about Etsy seven years ago. I remember being very overwhelmed by it at first, but watching as it evolved over the years. I resisted having an online presence for a long time, but in 2011 I saw a shift on the site and decided I needed to open a shop. I was inspired by all these unique businesses popping up around the globe from all different types of people. I opened my Etsy shop that year and it has kept my brain busy ever since.
I’m very excited and thankful that crafting and making the stuff I do is now popular enough to support me. In art school, I never could have imagined doing what I do today, but I also know that I never could have ended up doing anything else.
Maker and studio photographs by Christopher Borromeo Photography.