Nicolas Roa is enamored with the ethereal. An artist who explores the intersectionality between the female form, fantasy, and whimsy, his unique style draws people in and encourages them to see just beyond our reality.
Creativity Undefined spoke with Nicolas about his artistic journey, exploring feminine beauty, and adapting to our uncertain times.
How has your artistic journey been so far?
It’s honestly at the point where I’m torn between wanting to create more personal work that expresses my aesthetic and giving in to illustration jobs that are completely different from my style but pays the bills. I guess that’s the reality for any artist in the early stages of their career.
Looking back, is there anything that you would change, or wish had happened differently? What? Why?
I would change so many things and do things a lot differently. I’ve wasted too many opportunities and given up on big projects because I was too young to realize their worth. Looking back, I wasted a lot of time partying, drinking and messing around with my “friends”.
Your style seems to be a mix of fantasy and whimsy. Is that something that you’ve focused on from the start or did it evolve over time?
Yes. I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy movies, books and folklore. Through the years I’ve learned to balance fantasy with other aspects of my art. My style has evolved and is still changing here and there.
How has your work and artistic style changed since you first began?
I guess it’s a little more polished. Back then I would keep changing things up, from the medium to the color palette. Now I’m in a place where I have a select group of colors that I enjoy working with and what medium perfectly translates my vision.
How about since the pandemic began last year? How? Why?
Since the pandemic, I’ve had more time to just ease into my work. I knew I had time so I would just enjoy the entire process, not feeling rushed to complete a piece because I had to go to bed and go to work the next day. Overall, the pandemic has enabled me to take time to look at my work and improve elements that I see fit.
It seems like you focus solely on women in your work. Was that a deliberate choice? Why?
Women are just majestic creatures.
Why do they all have long necks?
I think the long necks, long limbs and fingers make them look slightly creepy and eerie but also delicate and graceful. Like fragile beings that could break at the slightest touch.
Do you have any work that you consider as your favourite? What? Why?
It changes every now and then. I honestly get sick of looking at my work and I’d just start to appreciate them again after not seeing them for a while. But if I really had to pick, probably the raw uncolored pieces in graphite pencil.
Have you ever considered exploring a different topic or concept? Why?
Maybe do more male subjects. Just because I don’t do them often.
Do you have a preferred medium or technique? If yes, what is it/are they and why? If no, why?
I always start with a pencil and paper. Then edit and color through photoshop. I always like to keep the rough pencil texture in.
What’s your favourite project and/or client to date? Why?
Working with awardwinning fashion designer Hussein Bazaza’s collections. He’s just a really talented and creative individual who gets my aesthetic. My illustrations have been featured in his pieces and I think it’s really cool.
What’s your dream project or work to create? What about client? Why?
I’d like to do an illustrated cover for a fashion magazine or an ad campaign for a clothing label/brand.
Did you have to make any pivots or adaptations since the pandemic began? What? Why?
I’ve been creating logos for all sorts of brands for the past year as well as packaging and branding. I think it’s been fun to explore other forms of art and learning new techniques from them.
You’ve also launched your shop recently. How has the experience been? Are you planning to add more pieces soon?
I am honestly so lazy to create what I think is “shop-worthy” art. I keep getting emails from my agency in the US to remind me to create more art and I haven’t done that at all. It’s really hard for me to get inspired when I’m distracted playing video games and doing client work.
Do you think any issues faced by indie artists have been made clearer since the pandemic began? If yes, what are they? If no, why?
I think the pandemic has actually been good for artists. I mean, for me at least, I felt more free to create and search for inspiration. It was a great time for artists to look into themselves in isolation and really dive deeper into their art.
What do you think of the announcements made by the UAE government and other organisations over the past year that aim to support the arts and culture community?
I think it’s great! The UAE has been so focused on its growth economically and now is a great time for it to focus on its cultural and artistic development.
Are platforms such as Patreon enough or should they be considered as part of a wider support network?
I think all these outlets are great for artists of any kind. They not only showcase the artist’s work but also support them to do what they do best – create art!
What more do you think can be done to uplift indie creators?
I think the stage is already set. There’s apps for everything right now and it’s filled with creativity. All that’s left to do is for people to support the artists by actually purchasing their work.
Do you think the pandemic has impacted artists’ role(s) in society? If yes, in what way and why? If no, why?
Since the pandemic, people have been spending more time on their phones and computers. Artists were now given the spotlight and they’ve used it to their advantage. People are now starting to notice artists and discover new talent. I think those artists are now motivated to create more and with all that’s been going on in the world, they need to actually have something to say that can impact people and make them aware of important issues.
Are you currently working on a project? Can you please share some details about it?
Right now I’m doing a lot of client work. Both done in different styles. One is a fashion illustration project with bridal gowns and the other is a series of pop art inspired portraits for an international brand.
Do you have a goal that you’d like to achieve in the next few years? What is it? Why?
I’d like to collaborate with more brands and people who appreciate my work/style for what it is.