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