Nicholas Kole Interview – 50 States (Rhode Island)

October, 2018
Reading Time
5 mins
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Image © The Interviewee

Nicholas Kole – “I think Rhode Island is where I came of age, artistically.”

This week Create Chair is in Providence, Rhode Island talking with illustrator/character designer Nicholas Kole for the 41st instalment of our 50 States Series

Nicholas Kole has plied his craft to a myriad of industries including video games, toys and books. You can see a lot more projects on his website and Behance.

Porco Rosso

Tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you do

I’m a freelance character designer and illustrator- my greatest passion is for storytelling and by association, world-building. I try to see every new project as an opportunity to tease out the undercurrents and themes that drive it, and to crystallize those into compelling visuals- be they character’s costumes, sequential illustrations, or details like hairstyles and wallpaper- that tell the story and cause viewers to ask questions.

The Adventure Zone

I work for various clients- a great deal of my work has come from video-games, though lately, I’ve been doing a lot of visual development for projects in animation. I’ve worked in toys, children’s books, and comics as well- being on the concept end of the pipeline means the work I do can be adapted across mediums, and I really enjoy mixing it up.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

How has your state influenced the work that you do?

I think Rhode Island is where I came of age, artistically. While I was raised overseas, I went to RISD and graduated in ’09 with a degree in Illustration- and during my time there I fell in love with Providence. RISD itself was a really formative experience for me- working alongside driven peers, being challenged by deadlines and new ways of thinking- I did a lot of growing very quickly in that context.

“I think it’s good to understand my work in the context of people’s lives”

Monocle Society - Solar Age

In the years since school, the intimacy of the community in Rhode Island has helped to ground me and remind me that, while I might spend days pouring my focus into what sort of hairstyles and elf might have, the world moves on. I think it’s good to understand my work in the context of people’s lives- things that seem important in artistic echo-chambers might loom large to someone like me, but in Rhode Island and Providence it’s easy to step away from that mentality and meet people whose lives never encompass weeks-long quandaries of elf fashion.


Of your own work, what is your favourite project and why?

I’m very fond of the work I was blessed to do with a great team of friends on The Wingfeather Saga.

“ to get that close to something and have that much creative input are rare, rarer still when it’s a story you care about”

Wingfeather Saga

We spent many months visually developing a distinctive look for an animated show adapted from this great series of young-adult books, and I acted as Production Designer and ad-hoc Art Director. The story itself, the team on the whole- it was a wonderful experience- opportunities to get that close to something and have that much creative input are rare, rarer still when it’s a story you care about.

Wingfeather Saga

From just-me, my personal baby over the last few years has been Jellybots- a YA sci-fi story and design playground that I’ve been developing as a Patreon project.

Jellybots - Rhode Island

The 142nd 366 Award goes to Nicholas Kole for his outstanding creative work.

Jellybots Nicholas Kole

And finally, if you died and got reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?

I bet people have all kinds of cool answers for this one! I could lie and say something that would make me seem cooler, but probably I would come back as Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel.

Solsbury Hill"
Solsbury Hill (1977)
Peter Gabriel
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What began as a fun question to end an interview, has now become a wonderfully eclectic collaborative playlist by 161 people (and counting).
Rhode Island with Nicholas Kole
Our Forest