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Meet Nicole Schroeder of Atthirtyone

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

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been artistic. All through school I did art, and did well at art, but never had formal instruction until college, where I put down my paintbrush at the end of my painting semester and vowed never to pick it up again. I had not mastered the juggle between analyzing what I was doing and being creative.

Thankfully, three years later I picked it up again as a way to share affordable original art with friends. Then, on my 31st birthday, when I was reaching burnout in my office, I took myself to Paris and ate at a restaurant called The 35. I sketched out what I needed to do creatively, and how I needed to share it, and plunged into it once I got home.

I dove into fine art photography and learned to shoot manual, sometimes with a vintage lens, to create the effect I used to think I could only get from painting. Simultaneously, I worked on my body of oil painting pulling on colors and textures from unexpected places.

I travel a lot, and I love to nerd out on art history and contemporary art. I also love to pull in cultural influences or techniques that I learn about from artisans all over the world.

I’m at a point now where this has culminated in a variety of mixed media projects, in addition to abstract oil paintings, landscapes, and a line of accessories designed from my paintings and photography.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all! I definitely had one of those art kid reckonings attending an extremely Type A university, and I wasn’t even an art major! I did very well at painting, particularly, through high school, but I never had any formal instruction. When I got to college, my interest was piqued by an intro to art class that covered a variety of media.

Then I got into painting and my world was shattered by what seemed like the numerical equations that went into each color choice and brush stroke. Something about painting in a dark studio with these crazy lights on the subject really messed with my vision and everything I did look apocalyptic. Add to that the introduction to critiques and I was done. At the same time, I had been writing a thesis and following a very cerebral career path.

At that point, my left and right brains were as far from being balanced as they could get. It took a lot of time for me to figure out that one was not an escape from the other, but that I could toggle between my creative and analytical sides like a little light switch if I developed that skill. I’m still working on it, but I’m an awful lot more chill when I get it right!

Please tell us about Atthirtyone.
Atthirtyone is my creative business where I share my values of cultural diversity, environmentalism, and creativity for everyone. It is very important to me that everyone be able to experience joy from art, no matter their income level.

That is why, in addition to selling original paintings and archival prints, I began offering fashion and home accessories. My favorite thing, and what I have become known for, are the scarves that I make using designs from my abstract oil paintings. Most of these are inspired from nature – from a specific body of water, the woods, or the desert. I love how my customers can literally wear the painting that inspires them.

My mixed media work is also playing on either the natural diversity of our national parks or merging diverse cultural techniques and designs. There is so much richness around the world, from countries that have become footnotes in some cases, and I strive to highlight their design sophistication and beauty by layering them in home accent pieces and monotypes.

Finally, I am working with Distill Creative ( to offer cocktail and craft workshops in Southern California. This has taken off by bringing creativity into the very left-brain world of Washington, DC. I know LA might not need such an intensity antidote, but it has been so inspiring to see people who think they “can’t” be artistic create amazing and personal work!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was about eight years old my family took a month-long tent-camping road trip from Wisconsin to San Francisco and back. We saw so many things, and my brother and I were in awe of every minute (when we weren’t yelling at each other in the car, that is).

We camped in the snow on the Fourth of July and made “stew” from redwood needles in Yosemite. I’ve tried to recapture that same sense of adventure my whole life.

I was lucky to take a very similar path with a friend while moving across the country last year, rediscovering places like the Badlands, Yellowstone, and Dinosaur National Park through more adult eyes. It was eye-opening to travel through the middle as two women of two different nationalities and two different races with two dogs. But my art really took a turn for the better since then, trying to capture the paradoxes and inspiration of everything we saw.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nicole Schroeder, Jim Donnelly, Blossom Blue Photography

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