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Check out Nikko de Leon ‘s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikko de Leon.

Nikko, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born in New Jersey where my parents first emigrated to. When I was barely two years old, my family and I moved to Los Angeles where I grew up. As far as I can remember, I always loved drawing. In fact, the first time I got detention was in kindergarten for drawing on the classroom carpet.

Art was something that I easily identified with. When I was a kid, I felt very self-conscious about myself because I had bad grades in school and I didn’t grow up like the other studious Filipino kids in my neighborhood. Instead, I would be day dreaming in class and drawing characters and comics all over my notebooks. But taking up drawing at a young age gave me something to be proud of.

I took my first visual art classes at a local city-funded art high school and it was the first time I was exposed to a creative community. After graduating, I attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena where I received my BFA in Illustration in 2012. Art Center was where I learned of the wide variety of applications that illustration has. Being made aware of all those options has fueled my excitement for being a creative professional. I’ve since worked on various projects from character design, apparel design, and even providing label art for a Canadian beer company. I’m also currently creating illustrations for an upcoming children’s book.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Like many artists, my inspiration and work are always changing. I feel like my creative journey is a growing process. I like to compare it to the Beatles and how they started with Please Please Me and ended with Abby Road. At the moment, I’m really fascinated with 19th century Thai paintings and have been taking what I like about those and combining them with pop culture and my personal experiences. I love telling stories that have somewhat serious themes with a humorous approach, often featuring anthropomorphic characters. For my professional work, I typically scan graphite line work and created textures and finish the artwork digitally. When I participate in gallery shows, I usually use a mix of graphite and acrylic gouache on paper.

What I hope people see in my work is a sense of fun and honesty. I find this industry very challenging and oftentimes misunderstood. I encounter so many people who aren’t artists who feel they need to answer for me and tell me what I should be doing with my work. When asked why I do it, I find it best to keep my intentions and motivations simple; it’s simply because I enjoy it. It’s immensely rewarding to observe people interact with the things I create and form their own perspectives in reaction to my own. When this happens, I feel like I did my job.

How can artists connect with other artists?
I find social media a great tool for connecting with other artists. There’s so many artists out there sharing their work to the public. It’s nice that social media allows you to reach out to these people. But It’s really about making the effort to reach out though instead of waiting around. It’s important to connect with other artists and to surround yourself in that creative community.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I will be part of The Art of Competition show in the Great Park Gallery in Irvine this coming March. My work can be found on my website, blog and Instagram. I tend to use Instagram the most to post work in progress and finished pieces. I have an online shop linked to my website where I sell original pieces, zines, and shirts.

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