Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Tiedemann.
Hi Nicole, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Growing up, I would spend my summers in Japan visiting my grandparents. I was always mesmerized by Japan’s mastery of design, arts, and fashion. I spent my summers watching people on the streets and being so inspired by the individualistic style. Japan as a society is extremely closed off when it comes to talking about emotions, feelings, and personal hardships. What I found fascinating, however, was how this social repression led to expression through innovative and individualistic street styles.
My mom was raised in a culturally traditional Japanese household, so she raised me and my sister in a similar manner. I’ve never been the type of person to express my emotions and feelings to others, which unfortunately lead to me dealing with a severe anxiety disorder and depression growing up. My saviour, however, had always been art and still is today. It was the one outlet that comforted me through dark times. It has always been a form of therapy for me.
Once I got to college, I attended an abroad program for junior year in London. I was an economics major and was aiming to get a secure job in wealth management after college. Even though I loved art, I was taught that art/fashion wasn’t a legitimate career choice, so I made the decision to do finance. During my abroad experience, my dorm was not close by to friends, so I spent a lot of time alone. I had stopped doing fashion and art for years but during the solitude, started up again and re-found my love for everything creative. I had found an article on screen printing, which was something I always wanted to do, so I researched on youtube and figured out a way where I could build my own screen printing machine and print on t-shirts – combining my love for art, graphics, and clothing. I ended up failing multiple times, but eventually got the hang of it and was able to print my first ever t-shirt in my NYU dorm room. Soon after, I came up with the name Laughing Geisha, and it has since been a constant thing in my life.
I personally screenprint, sew, and thrift the items I sell on my site and run the company out of my apartment in Los Angeles. My clothing is inspired by the amalgamated eras of Japanese streetwear fashion that I saw growing up. The brand is personal to me since the graphics I create tend to mirror my internal mind. I’ll have months when I am creating and the pieces I produce are visually more chaotic, and other times lighter and happier. I only recently recognized this, but I find it to be very interesting and indicative of the way in which art acts as an outlet for me to express my feelings, emotions, and personal experiences.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a full-time artist and clothing designer.
I only recently began taking my career in painting seriously, but I have been having the best time with it. My art is a visual representation of the way in which I see the world as a mixed person. Growing up between two identities, I always had a hard time figuring out who I was, but through art, I have been able to find an identity. I am a mixed media artist and work with anything from acrylics, oil pastels, expoxy resin, fabric-anything I can get my hands on!
For AAPI month, I was commissioned by the Beverly Centre in Los Angeles to paint a mural in devotion to AAPI month. I painted a 15×15 foot samurai mural live. This was definitely one of my proudest moments as an Asian American artist.
The other thing I am most proud of is taking the risk of starting my own company and releasing clothing that speaks to me. This was incredibly scary since I’ve always struggled with my self-identity and have always been nervous of others’ perceptions of me. A lot of my work is unconventional out there, and the graphics can be somewhat heavy. Before starting my clothing brand and showing my art to people, I don’t think anyone really had an understanding of who I was, since I always kept to myself when it came to these types of things. I also censored the way I wanted to dress going up because I had always felt different and didn’t want to stand out. I am proud of the fact that I have gotten to a point in my life where I am authentically me and do not look to others for validation in order to be happy myself.
How do you think about luck?
I believe in the idea that everyone has a purpose in life and that if you genuinely pursue your passion, that the universe will provide you with the necessary stepping stones in order to lead you to this life, you desire. I also wholeheartedly believe that everything happens for a reason and that good and bad are indivisible, you cannot have one without the other. I don’t know if I believe in good and bad luck since I think the good and the bad that has happened in my life was meant to happen and was already decided for me.
- Website: www.thelaughinggeisha.com
- Instagram: thelaughinggeisha
- Facebook: thelaughinggeisha
Milan Dilelo John Liwag