Nikki Solemsaas is a Seattle-based artist, photographer and UX designer.
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Solemsaas: I used to paint and draw when I was a kid, but I never pursued anything serious. I've been painting officially now for just a little over a year. I create large format bold acrylic paintings.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
My artistic process is fairly simple. I'll think of an idea and sketch it on paper, or most of the time, directly onto the canvas. This is the part that always looks the roughest because I'm constantly erasing and changing aspects of the image. Once I get my ideas down to where I like them, I'll outline everything in black posca marker and then start painting in my colors. Throughout this entire process, I'm constantly making "mistakes" I'll change my mind about colors/ideas/everything. It's not unusual for me to completely gesso a canvas and start over. I know when a painting is working and when it's not. But I love the "mistakes" because half the time it's because I'll have thought of something else I love more. Because of all that, though, I could probably never film a time-lapse of my process because it's never linear, and it would most likely drive people crazy seeing me start over and change things constantly.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
The gist of my art is inspired by Seattle and the PNW. I grew up as a local from Lake Stevens, Washington, and I've been living in Seattle for just over a decade. I'm very proud to have grown up in such a beautiful place. With that said, I can and do find inspiration from almost anything, though. I'm excited to branch out in themes a bit this year.
Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
My specific "beat" for myself is color. Although my personal style is very muted, I love utilizing color in everything I create. Bold, fun colors evoke emotions, and most of that, I hope, is joy.
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
My favorite, most sentimental piece I've created is a large 4x6 foot painting I made as a tribute to my late Dad. When he was in the midst of his cancer battle, he had an entire lung removed because of a large tumor embedded in it. He had only one lung left but still made the hike up to the top to Mt. Pilchuck lookout. Considering many of us with two lungs struggle immensely with that hike, it was pretty impressive for a guy with half the breathing capacity. That's why he'll always be the GOAT and why I created that painting.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I love traveling and finding inspiration from other artists. I also work as an Art Director/Designer in my day-to-day life, so I'm always being creative and writing down ideas for future pieces.
What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I'm working on an exclusive set of snowboard designs for a large snowboard company, and I have an upcoming commission to paint a mural in an office building downtown. Outside of that, I'm beginning the start of my second collection for my next gallery show. I'm really excited for a lot more opportunities this year, but I also want to note that I'm still really excited about a recent accomplishment. I won a national competition with SunChips and Bobby Berk, and one of my paintings is currently being featured on billboards and murals in Nashville, Dallas, Austin, and New York. You can check out more photos of those on my Instagram.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
I'm very simple! I love a good cold brew or french vanilla latte!
About 'Artist of the Week': Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.