Filipino Artist Nikki Radan on Life as a Freelance Illustrator, Love Quotes and Learning from Dad
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on some new watercolor paintings for the next arts-and-crafts fair that we will be joining next month and an illustration for a product review on the new paints we bought online – the fruit of our work for Dreame. Yay to productivity!
Describe a day in the life of artist, Nikki Radan.
A day in my life as an artist is a day full of love and struggles. Artsy adventures, beautiful accidents which leads to new ideas, colorful failures and exciting new stories. As well as, dripping watercolors, iced coffee or milktea in cozy cafes and a lot of other experiences that make my soul grow.
Which Musicians, artists, authors, etc. influence your art?
I admire so many amazing artists around the world but to name a few Hikari Shimoda and May Ann Licudine are among those who inspire me a lot.
You show versatility in a variety of mediums: sculpting, digital art, illustrating and watercolor being a few. Do you have a favorite and why?
My favorite medium would be watercolors. There is just that magical feeling when I’m painting with watercolors. Painting digitally is fun, but the feeling of actually dipping the brush in my watercolor palette and stroking it against a textured paper is a lot more fun!
I really love and enjoy each step of painting with watercolors. From visiting our local art stores for paper, brushes and paints, preparing/stretching the paper, squeezing out colorful paints from their tubes, mixing colors and slowly painting each figure until I complete the whole image. It is also relaxing to watch the paint spread itself on a damp paper, there is always that element of surprise. Also knowing that there is no ‘ctrl z’ to undo a mistake adds excitement. Even if there is a mistake, watercolors are so beautiful that it doesn’t look like mistake at all.
You’ve recently been doing a lot more sculpting and clayworking, how is it to make the transition from digital art to more physical work?
It feels great! Since I was a child I’ve been really into all things handmade. Claywork is fun, I like the feeling of the clay in my hands and messing around with it until I finally achieve what I wanted to create. Through this and other art activities I’m able to avoid having a monotonous day. Creating all of the things I love is a refreshing experience.
A lot of the pieces you create are centered around femininity and girlhood, are these inspired by women you know?
Most of my works are inspired by dreams, thoughts, memories, feeling and experiences. I usually draw little girls to depict innocence and the feelings that I want them to portray.
Being a self taught illustrator, what sets you apart from trained artists?
Every artist is unique in every way. Personally, I learned by discovering, so there are no rules. I do things freely which allows me to open a lot of possibilities.
Can you describe your work routine?
For watercolor paintings, first I try to imagine what I want to paint, I sketch it on paper and then I tape it on a board or any flat surface. I usually use a cake tray because I can move it around. Then I gather all of my paints and brushes (I use a Chinese brush), a glass of water and some cloth or paper for brush cleaning purposes. Then I start to paint the first wash layers on to my paper, I let the paint dry for a couple of minutes before I add the next layers of paint until the whole image is done. I like using a lot of pastels and candy colors such as hot pink, yellow, green, red-violet and so on. Sometimes when I feel extra inspired, I try to finish the whole painting within a day, but usually I do take breaks to relax my eyes and hands.
What will we find in your studio space?
A lot of mushroom sculptures, artworks, art books, glasses of paint tubes varying from watercolors, acrylics, oils and colored pencils. I also have brushes, a lot of papers, a microscope, my computer and a various other items.
What is the artist community like in Manila? How is life as an artist growing up on an island? How important/ influential is the local community?
There are a lot of art related events going here specially in manila, from art exhibits, arts-and-crafts fairs, art workshops, free museum tours, etc. I think the art scene is getting more and more active as the days pass.
What is your earliest memory of creating art?
My earliest memory of creating art was when I was a child. My father would draw a simple image while telling a story about it. From then on I was very interested in drawing. Then I went to kindergarten where I discovered the wonderful world of crayons, scissors, colored papers, world maps and other artsy school stuff we didn’t have at home. From then on I discovered the endless possibilities of the imagination.