#NoFilter Interview w/ SC artist: Nichole Tin
Our team artist, Nichole (@nicnkotori) primarily studies English Roundhand but often incorporate different styles in her work. Today, having her works being featured in magazines like Harpers' Bazaar to working with brands, her calligraphy style is known to be traditional yet romantic and exquisite altogether!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I fell into this ‘rabbit hole’ because of an eldery man who was tending an old bookstore in the suburbs of Subiaco, Perth. I lived in Perth for 9 years and during my time there I always visited Subiaco weekly to grab coffee and pick up flowers from the local stores. Somehow, I had never step foot into this particular bookstore. The entrance of the old bookstore was donned in a beautiful glass display of fountain pens, and one day I decided to step in to take a look. Prior to that, I never knew that people collected fountain pens like this, let alone put them on display (they were not even on sale!). I struck up a conversation with the owner and asked about his personal collection, which led him to share more about his penmanship journey and his old copybook that he promptly dug out from the back of his store.
The whole idea of how writing was practised with such diligence in the past intrigued me, so I went home, turned to Google, and searched for more answers. Fast forward till today, all the answers I found on Google led me to start an Instagram account just for calligraphy, dedicated nightly Calligraphy study and practices, meeting all these talented artists we have in our Collective, writing for so many others from individuals to brands, being featured on reputable media platforms and even most recently completing our second exhibition in Singapore! There is a fair share of the bad days and bad experiences too, but in all, it has been a really fulfilling journey thus far!
Is (or are) there any artist(s) that you admire, or may have influenced the work that you do today?
Definitely! For Calligraphy, it is definitely George Bickham - I’ve got to thank John the super cool udon(@yakiujohn) for introducing his work to me. George Bickham was an engraver but his work continually influences mine, and my perception of Calligraphy. You may have landed on my instagram feed and seen a variety of styles that I do because I enjoy them all, but behind the scenes, the key study focus has always been George Bickham’s engravings, which include all the different old elements (both functional and decorative back in those days).
The other artist that I really admire is Audrey Kawasaki. Her works are heavily influenced by manga and art nouveau--these are the obvious elements which you can see in her work. What really intrigued me was the theme of her works. I recall my Aussie university days where I had to complete a half a semester project study on an artist from a predefined list, but I requested to do a study on her works instead. The young woman in her works always send me into deep thoughts. She can be quite disturbing at times, attractive, melancholic, confident - everything that is so contradicting.
Today, I have no idea how her works might have influenced my own work directly, but I suppose indirectly, I now put a lot more thought and meaning to what I try to create, often with hidden message/ agenda/ theme/ person in mind when I write a phrase, or when I illustrate decorative elements for my writing piece instead of creating something that is purely for the purpose of "trying" to be relatable or striking a chord with others. Most of my works that I post are now more about pieces that I hold dear to, or if it's about projects, it's usually ones that has a certain key activity that has happened during the working process that made it worth a post. For me, The Hour Glass invitation that was done in Feb 2018 is one project that I really enjoyed immensely because I was writing day-night with my fellow artists on the team - Wish we had a permanent space that we can get together like that more often!
Describe a typical practice session?
My “typical practice session” is not pretty at all! After a full day of projects/ meetings/ running errands/ other commitments, I find myself starting my practice session with a lot of resistance so I’d make sure I’ve had a hot bath, changed into my home wear and have a jug of iced tea prepped before starting.
Feeling slightly more ‘relaxed” helps me concentrate better during my practice sessions! The rest of it is just hours and hours of deliberate practice sessions.
What is the hardest aspect about learning calligraphy?
Social media has transformed the way we view information given to us. I recall in my earlier days of my Calligraphy journey, a friend of mine sent me a link on Facebook of a video by Seb Lester re-creating logotype and logo marks of prominent brands. Accompanying that link, she said “ Nic, I think you could do something like this too! It seems so effortless!”
Of course, I couldn’t re-create anything that was shown in the video then, but it further brings me to my point that it takes a whole deal for an artist to create something that looks so effortless. Dedicated and deliberate practice is the way to go. I mean, if we look at it in terms of fashion, a no-makeup makeup is actually… harder than it seems! Right?
Tell us one (or a few) unknown fact about yourself
I have a Russian blue cat (Name: Taffy, alias: Flaffles) which I adopted from a clinic when I was living in Perth. Now, she has emigrated to this tropical island Singapore and she absolutely loves the weather here. P.S. She’d rather sun-bathe than be in the air-conditioned room with me!