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Meet Nicole Renski

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Renski.

Hi Nicole, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born in Northern California after my parents moved there from Russia in the 90s. Art has been my favorite hobby for as long as I can remember. Drawing was a perfect way to bond with friends at school by making silly illustrations together as well as an engaging way to pass time on my own. I was always inspired by my favorite movies and games. As a kid, I loved animated shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender which led me to love all things fantastical. Throughout my time in school, I’d be doodling cats, edgy anime characters and whatever else came to mind in the margins of my notebooks. Trying to translate ideas that had only existed in my imagination onto a piece of paper was always incredibly fun and fulfilling. As soon as I found out that people actually did that for a living, I wanted to pursue it. After high school, I moved to Los Angeles to study illustration with a focus on entertainment at ArtCenter.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
For a long time, I felt like going for a career in illustration was the path for me. I was excited to attend an art college. However, I started struggling with this idea near the end of high school as the time to finally “choose” approached. This arbitrary deadline made me really think about if attending art school was a good choice. Impostor syndrome and societal pressure made me question the road I’d been following up to that point. I wondered whether I was really good enough to try and make it in the competitive world of the entertainment industry. Eventually, I ended up taking a tour of the ArtCenter campus and saw student work being displayed. Suddenly, I felt like I got a rush of motivation. The pieces on the walls were exactly what I wanted to learn — visual development, character and prop design, concept art — it all looked so fun. I decided to finally say screw it and go after an art education. It’s turned out to be a great fit for me and my uncertainty has fallen away. I’m also extremely lucky to have friends, family and great peers at school that support me. They’re the ones that have encouraged me to make it this far.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Mostly, I focus on concept work and digital illustration. I love designing characters and environments. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to draw and paint to try and bump my illustrations up to the next level; thinking of how I could change angles, proportions, lights and shadows, etc. Stepping out of my comfort zone can be difficult, but I’ve been trying to do it more and more. Improvement is a great motivator for me, and it’s really fun to look back at my older pieces and think about what I would do differently now. I hope to make drawings that will spark viewers’ imaginations and invite them to keep looking.

Any big plans?
If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be graduating in about a year. After that, I really hope to be able to work in the entertainment industry! I’m incredibly excited to be able to step into the world of work as an artist. I want to contribute a piece of myself to the shows, movies and games that influenced me and hopefully inspire the next generation of artists to pursue their goals as well!

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