Bizzie Bee's Artist Interview: Nicole Roquel

It's SUMMERTIME Bizzie Bees,

To kick off our summer season, this month we have Nicole Roquel sharing her art journey with us.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Nicole and I am an illustrator. I am a Filipino, born and raised in Hong Kong. I have just recently graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I own two pet turtles and aside from art, I enjoy music, reading and watching animations.

How did you start making art/start your creative journey?

I've been drawing ever since I was a really young child, around 2-3 years old. It always felt like a natural intuition to draw. As a very shy kid who was always caught up in her own world and imagination, drawing was my expression and amusement. One of my earliest memories was drawing on my bedroom wall, only to be found out by my mother. She later bought me a sketchbook and watercolor pencils. From then, the number of sketchbooks started piling up, and I would always carry one with me whenever I was out. I also remember watching an arts and crafts TV show for kids named "Art Attack" which was hosted by artist Neil Buchanan. I would actually wake up early on Saturday mornings to catch the show, and from there I learned drawing and painting basics, as well as crafting.

What is your workspace like?

Clustered but organised. Organising my workspace brings me so much satisfaction—maybe this is a sign that I have finally reached adulthood, ha! I purchased all these desk drawers and made sure they were spacious and color coordinated. My current theme is white, mint and grey with a gorgeous pattern of watercolor washes! With these, I categorize all of my art supplies. It can get pretty clustered and messy though as I do my work, simply because my workspace is quite small.

What is your favourite art form and why? Painting and drawing, though I cannot dismiss other art forms. I think it is healthy to keep an open mind and acknowledge other arts, so as to keep the inspiration going. For example, I love music as well and am constantly inspired by it.

What inspires you and how do you keep your creative spark?

As I just mentioned, aside from looking at illustrations, what I do to keep the creativity going is to look into other art fields such as performance arts, literary arts, fashion, and other forms of fine art and design. Also, simply living and getting out of my home to experience whatever the world has to offer. I enjoy walks, especially night walks in Hong Kong where the neon lights are burning and the city starts to wake. The various colors in the dark always bring me a sense of nostalgia, and seeing people go about their day always inspires me to curate stories in my head.

Who did you admire when you were younger that inspired you to be an artist yourself? When I was a little girl, I loved reading the various children's short stories by Enid Blyton. I think that might have first sparked my love for book illustration as I admired the ink and watercolor drawings (perhaps a little more than the actual reading). As I grew older, Tim Burton became a great inspiration to me—I've always loved the naivety and honesty in his quirky drawings.

What role does the artist have in society?

To enlighten, initiate discussion and to bring people of all walks of life together.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on a huge mural painting in an office space—those childhood days of drawing on my bedroom walls are finally paying off! I have always been encouraged by my professors to paint bigger because my illustrations tend to have a lot of detailing, and this is definitely the biggest canvas I have ever had to work on (this one is sized around 19 by 8 feet!). Despite this challenge, I am really enjoying the process and learning new things. I hope I get to do more mural painting in the near future.

What's your favourite place to see art?

I feel like I haven't travelled enough to answer this but, I really enjoyed the museums I visited in New York. I hope to be able to visit again soon because there is just too much to see!

What's the last show that you saw?

In terms of a live performance, I saw Pentatonix.

What do you collect?

I am a horrible hoarder—I basically collect everything. I have boxes of movie tickets, boarding passes, notes that were passed among my friends during high school classes, old birthday cards, postcards, bottle caps, etc. You name it, and I will probably have it! Otherwise, I collect Pop! vinyls and Tsum Tsums to feed my inner child, and I also collect mugs from my travels.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

In high school, I worked part-time at Dymocks Booksellers. I have also worked as an art teacher assistant for young children during my time in university. Now while I am a freelance illustrator, I am also a freelance art tutor for children.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough.

What advice do you have?

Be passionate and persistent about your work, then it won't feel like doing work at all.

What is your dream project if there were no restrictions on time or money? What would you create?

I would love to write and illustrate my own line of stories.

I used to watch Art Attack with Neil Buchanan as well! My favourite was the "Big Art Attacks" section of the show. What projects are you working on this summer? If you're travelling with your family or just out and about, bring your sketchbook along just like Nicole. You never know when you'll come across some inspiration!

You can see more of Nicole's art on her website.

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