I'm Nichole with an h,
I spend my days livin' on the bright side of life - making, moving and handpoke tattooing :)
Freelancing from the heart of magical Cape Town, I specialise in visual communications, design, illustration, art direction, tattoos and wall murals. I love working with good humans and their visions to create imagery for their brands, their walls, and even their skin.
Mother nature inspires me,
diversity excites me.
My creative journey began many moons ago. I guess I've always been passionate about making things, driven by that crazy-heartbeat-in-your-chest kinda feeling that goes along with making something which never existed before. My intrigue and solid commitment was awarded with art trophies and A's along the way. Top art student through primary school and high school, achieving a 98% for my Matric art prac back in 2008 (hard work and many hours pays off ;).
I moved on to study at the Vega School of Branding in Johannesburg in 2009, completing my BA degree in Creative Brand Communications in 2011. At my graduation I received a Red Pencil Award, as the top Visual Communications student.
Soon I was snatched up as a junior art director at DraftFCB, Johannesburg. What a welcome into the big bad world of advertising. Small fish: Scary real world. Besides the intensity of it all, I was blessed with so many opportunities to work with a bunch of Jozi's finest (and possibly craziest) creatives, on some of our planet's most renowned brands: Coca-Cola, Vodacom, Toyota, Wimpy, Lottery, Tigerbrands to name a few. A whirlwind of a year, 2012 was the start of my 'profession'. It was bad-ass and it was *epic* ( I sure am glad though that I never have to live through it again).
In 2013 I switched it up and worked as a conceptual designer / illustrator at a design agency called Global Mouse in Bryanston, Johannesburg. This is where I really fine-tuned my design skills, learning the deeps depths of the Adobe Creative Suite. Many, many hours spent on Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign crafting artwork for the Discovery brand and others too. I drew a lot during this time and explored all sorts of illustrative styles through which I found more of my own.
In 2014 I needed change (there's a bit of a pattern here), and so I left that gig and started to work as a freelance designer for Metropolitan Republic, another ad agency in Jozi. I worked closely with the mastermind creative director (Christine Raftopoulos) heading up the design team to rebrand the blue beast - Sanlam. I believe it's during this time that I put my real '10 000 hours' in. So much hard work, late nights and dedicated energy went into building this visual identity, and the Loeries thought so too :)
It was while working on the Sanlam rebrand that I was flown on a business trip to Cape Town. I almost immediately started strategising how to move closer to this magical mountain. It meant I needed to, yet again, close one door to open another. I left Metropolitan and stepped into the role of a digital designer at South Africa's most love online fashion brand: Superbalist.com in Cape Town at the start of 2015. What a superb way to begin my life in the mother city - sharing ideas and visions with the city's trendiest e-commerce business minds, creatives and fashionistas. I watched Superbalist grow from 60 people to 130 people in a space of 9 months. I was part of a start-up business that exploded, and it was so great! But also a place where I spun - away - and after 9 months I was ready to welcome the next phase of my life.
I started freelancing in September 2015 - a big leap breaking the 'comforts' of a monthly salary and wandering off into the unknown realm of freedom and the freelance hustle*.
I was offered a monthly retainer with Sanlam and Santam - such perfect timing, I must add. Slowly but surely I started collaborating with all sorts of wonderful people to create cool visuals for their brands, events and new businesses. I was also contacted by Duke and other agencies around Cape Town to freelance for them haphazardly.
By the end of 2016 I felt like had my freelance design pretty well setup, with lekker clients and a good consistent workflow. But freelance design means computer, computer, computer - and a heap of screen time.
Next intention was to find ways to distance myself from my beloved workhorse - my MackBook. I was in pursuit of creating art with my hands again - I missed paper and pens and paint and erasing and smudging. I missed the mess, the craft and the exploration that went with it all.
I also really missed people. Not working from an office means you're probably working from home or a coffee shop without too much human interaction. Perfect somedays - other days not so much.
Anyway - long story short - this all led me to the path of becoming a 'handpoke' tattoo artist. Handpoking is a tattooing method whereby no machine is used. It's a gentler, more traditional technique whereby the a needle (the same professional ones used in tattoo machine) is strapped to a stick and dipped into tattoo ink. The process is much slower and more intricate as dot-by-dot the detail comes together. Note: I use an imported high-quality vegan ink.
Furthermore - I'm really enjoying painting on walls. With murals in two yoga studios in Cape Town, another two find themselves on international soil in Ubud, Bali and in Singapore, and even more in the homes of people I adore.
That takes us up to now, the turn of the decade - hello 2020. An exciting time to be alive with so many possibilities and infinite ideas floating around us waiting to be manifested. I'm not sure exactly where it is that I am headed, but I'm amped. As long as I'm making and moving, I'm happy.
Bless them future creations *