About: Nicci Battilana, also known as Nicci Dot C A, is a mixed media artist who creates colourful and playful portraits of what she calls her “Girlz”. The Girlz are doll-like characters with bold features, and each has their own quirky (and sometimes outlandish) personality. Nicci’s work can be seen on greeting cards, prints, clothing, bags, mailboxes, doors, and more! For this reason, she calls her work “functional art”. You can see or purchase some of Nicci’s functional art at this year’s Art World Expo!
When did you first start doodling what would eventually become your “My Girlz” collection?
I have dabbled in doodling since I could pretty much clutch onto a crayon (just like most of our readers).
The focus on my girlz began in the very expressive mid-to-late 80’s. They began very simplistic and quite angular. Due to the art supplies at the time, they were also expressed in dark earth tone colours. Nothing like my curvy Spring coloured girlz of today.
Why did you choose to sell your products as prints and greeting cards?
I used to paint on stretched canvas all the time, but they were beginning to take over our home some years back. My good friend and fellow Artist, Violette Clark, suggested that I begin working out of an art journal. This was a great way for me to experiment and expand my work… besides saving space in my home…lol.
However, I missed sharing my work with others… this is when I began making prints & greeting cards with my favorite journal paintings. And what better way to share art with your loved ones, but with a fun cheerful and/or cheeky card from a local Artist?
How do you create separate personalities for each of your “Girlz”?
They tell me what and who they want to be. I never plan my work, as my girlz are meant to evolve from within. I always just begin with light and loose pencil drawn circles and I somehow see them peeking out at me. Imagine looking into a mirror that is foggy from the showers steam. Staring into that mirror as the fog clears, you slowly see your own face emerge in the frame. That is similar to how my girlz introduce themselves to me.
Your work is slightly reminiscent of childhood toys such as Barbies and Bratz, or different styles of animation. What inspired you in your childhood that might’ve lead to your art today?
I loved Jim Henson’s Muppets as a child (& still do today)! The idea that grown adults could still ‘play’ for a living and support themselves. Imagine carrying over some of the best aspects of childhood throughout our lives, while making others happy! Who could not want that? When I was a teenage, I was a big fan of the band Duran Duran. On the cover of their RIO album was a famous art portrait by Nagel. The female face really pulled me in. The eyes are the key!
As for toys… I remember when Bratz first hit the store shelves. I was sooo happy. I thought “Wow, someone else out there speaks my language!”. Big eyes, full pouty lips & heads a little too big for their britches…lol.
What’s your best seller?
Lately it has been the girlz that have a bit of a creep factor and a little tongue in cheek humour, as though they are visiting from a different realm. An alternate Earth perhaps.
Where did you get the idea?
The idea of what my art focus is? I do not think I had a choice or a YES moment as to knowing what I would create. Nothing else speaks to me like my Girlz do. I often try to broaden my artistic horizons, so to speak, but I am always brought back to them. They are what makes me happy… what makes me, me.
How would you describe your artistic style?
I say mixed media with no ‘rules’, but maybe the true definition should be something like …. a mix of Disney like female characters drenched in Kool-Aid, add a dash of Tim Burton and a wack load of thick black eyeliner…. Ha ha.
Can you tell the story of how you first started painting on clothing?
As a beginning Artist, a high school student and no money to buy stretched canvases, I decided to become my very own walking Art Gallery. I have a closet full of my old hand painted jean jackets, a few pairs of jeans & then of course hand bags & messenger bags. Since I have not worn painted jackets in a few years, I have recently taken my sewing scissors to a few and turned them into wrist-let bags. There are some jackets that I just cannot bring myself to re-invent though.
What is “functional art” and why do you like creating it?
Functional art is art that can be used in a variety of functions (ie: clothing, hand bags, greeting cards, a door in your home, your mail box, etc). Some people stop seeing the art work that they loved enough to hang on their wall, just because they are so used to it being there. It becomes invisible. Functional art is moved, it’s used. Others may see it and enjoy it, since it is out there….moving around in the community. It continues to live.
Which mediums do you use to create your art?
Acrylic paint is my number one favorite medium. Next I love using Caran D’ache watercolour crayons as a team with my finger tips. They are a great tool for bringing my acrylic art to life! Plus, dare I call GLITTER a medium? I do use it a lot less than I used to, but I still love it… along with Swarovski crystals. All Girlz need a little bling, even the creepy ones.
How did having children change your life as a person and an artist?
My art was a hobby before we had our son. By day I worked in a cubicle, hated it (loved most of my co-workers, but hated the desk jobs), punched the time clock & then would come home and paint and be happy. After we had our son and my maternity leave was over, we decided as a team that we had a child to raise him ourselves (not day care) & teach him that you can do in life what you love and succeed at it. So we tightened our money belts and have been sticking to our plans ever since. I have taken a couple short part time jobs to bring in some steady income over the years, but we always come back to centre. I have a wonderfully supportive husband. Therefore I am able to be here for our son, create art, teach art, plus organize & host ‘Into the heART’ art retreats and ‘Creative Finds’ markets. If everyone could just do what makes them happy (as a service)… now that would be a wonderful world
You do a fair bit of charity work. What are some of your favourite causes to support?
Honestly I love working with many local charities, but one that pulls at my heart strings and brings me back over and over is the BC Children’s Hospital. We have had to spend some time over the years at Children’s and they have been a great support for our family and many others.
You host an event at the Creative Finds Marketplace every November. Can you tell us more about your event?
Our Creative Finds Marketplace is in it’s 9th year and is filled with so much local talent!
We focus on local handmade quality items and take a lot of pride in that. Plus we do our best to treat our vendors and customers as a member of our Creative Finds family. We are there to support eachother and do what we can to bring the Artists/Crafters/Makers together with the community that needs/wants/desires their product.
With next year marking our 10th anniversary, we have added a new element this year. We are welcoming in vendors that specialize in offering art and crafting supplies (but with no high import companies). We will soon be known for hosting events that showcase and inspire all creative levels of our fabulous community.
Where can people find your work?
The best place to start is to check my website and make a note of my upcoming events or where to shop online.
I will be taking part of the Fraser Valley Art Crawl on Thursday August 13th from 6-9pm.
Other than that, I do have Glitzy Galz greeting cards available at Wild Child Tattoos & Hair in Surrey (19228 96 Ave, Surrey, BC), as well as at the Sugar Shack on Vancouver Island (4492 Happy Valley Road, Metchosin, BC).
What will you be selling at the expo?
I have a few canvases that I am creating especially for this great event! These Glitzy Galz will be full of whimsy and will be ready to go to their new homes at the end of the evening.
I will also have a letter loving mailbox that is ready for enhancing the entrance to someones lovely home, a wide array of my art prints and packages of my Glitzy Galz greeting card line.
Thank you for spending a little time with me & I look forward to meeting you all in person on May 1st!