March 15, 2018
By Sara Flowers + Taryn Nilsen
Jax Kids Mural Project
Nicole has been with us from the start, the very first Makery, leading and inspiring the youngest Makers in the city. Not only is she a naturally gifted artist but she is hell bent on making a difference in the world using her art as a platform. We wanted to get personal and hear the real why behind her incredibly successful Kids Mural Project.
Tell us how you ended up in Jacksonville and what made you decide to grow roots here.
I first came to Jacksonville to attend UNF. Surfing was what I cared about most at that time, and I really wanted to be able to continue surfing after high school. During my first visit I had a really amazing time, so I applied to UNF. I met some really cool people here, and grew to love it. There have been times when I really haven't been happy, but I'm committed to the future of this city! There is a lot of potential here, and a lot of great people.
What ignited the first spark that has developed into The Kids Mural Project? What separated this one idea from others you might have had?
When I started working solely as an artists I thought that I was just gonna be an artist, and I didn't realize that there were so many cool avenues that you could travel as an professional creative person. I was inspired to work for something greater than myself in my journey to achieve success in the art world, and thats why I developed the kid's mural project.
What has been your biggest challenge since you started?
Building a business is hard, especially when you are more creatively talented than business minded. I've been working to build a team to accomplish the goals of the kid's mural project, and so far we have some amazing people, like my mom, step up to support and volunteer. Also, building my career as an artist to a point where I am granted with creative freedom on projects has been tough. For a while now I've been doing a lot of commissioned work in which I haven't had complete creative freedom, but needed to pay my bills, and it is draining. I am hoping to get to the point where I can create freely and be supported financially in doing so. There are a lot of amazing people that support me, and I am grateful for that!
How did you overcome it or are you still working through it?|
It’s been challenging to navigate, but I've had a lot of advice and support from friends and family. A lot of people have come to support me in this city, and I am so grateful for that. I just do my best to keep putting one foot in front of the next, and do my best to make good decisions for my future.
Do you have a trusty sidekick, or 10, that help keep the project going? Anyone that deserves some extra attention?
There are a few people I would like to shout out, jeez this will be quite a list! Of course, first and foremost my family because they go above and beyond for me I am so blessed. Second, my boyfriend Trevor Stevens. He also goes above and beyond for me, and he is so great to work with which is an added bonus. Most of my time is spent working, so most of my friends are people that I work with, and its an amazing thing to find people who are like-minded and share your vision. Halsi is a dear friend and helps me out a lot to make my visions come to fruition. Martin Torres. has helped me out a tremendous amount as well, and I'm so happy to see him shining in California now! Cassidy Ramos was my partner in crime in Color Me Kona back in November, and I'm so happy for the friendship that has come from that. Lisa Goodrich, Kimberley and Cressman from PNC, Deb Palmer from Florida Cyber Charter Academy. Definitely Jason and Jerry Rodriguez from Strata Clothing and Fresh Thread, they have supported me so much throughout my career. Really grateful for the Cultural Council for giving me my first grant, and for supporting me throughout the past few years! There are so many more people that I would like to thank, I'm afraid ill miss someone. Danny, Tory, James, Max, Caleb, Ben, Julia, Madelene, and so many more. I am forever grateful!!!
What do you have planned for The Makery Spring Market?
We are gonna have a t-shirt tye dyeparty! We have a ton of t-shirts left over from color me Kona, and our Kid's Mural Festival, and we will have them available for a suggested donation of $10, and you can completely customize your shirt with tie-dye or fabric markers! All of the proceeds will go to the funding of our kid's mural project! We are definitely working to make this a special experience.
What is in the future for you and the project?
Right now I am working on the master plans for 2018 and 2019, and I'm really excited. Its a pretty big step, and I'm really look forward to continuing to work with the people, organizations, businesses, and brands that we have developed relationships with so far as well as with my friends of course. The plans for this year include projects outside of schools, and with street artists from here in Jacksonville as well as a few other cities here in Florida.
What are your current needs? How can the community support you?
Right now we are working to complete our plans, and once we do we really need the community to help us spread the word. Even just through conversation, talking to your friends about what we are doing! Sharing our posts on Facebook and Instagram! The more connections we are able to make, the more funding we can acquire, the more murals we can paint, the more children we can empower, and the more impact we can have on the future of our city!
It is easy to see the passion she has for her work and also...let’s get real, her incredible talent. The city is a better place for all the kids she reaches through the project. We love that we get to be a small part of it. You can too at the next Spring Makery on April 13-15. She will be revealing the winner of a youth t-shirt design contest on Saturday, and it just might be BIG surprise…