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Honolulu, Hawaii
United States

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An artistic collaborative of artists, designers, makers and craftsmen focused on the creation of unique experiences and conceptual environments.  Building moments to be explored and remembered through the conception and creation of custom art installations, interior design, events, set design, styling & visual merchandising.


Filtering by Tag: SCAD

Aloha Mural!

Nikole Nelson


Our blank canvas: a 200 foot long concrete wall. This was once an equally unsightly chain link fence dividing the playground from a busy street. I believe I willed this wall into existence - I've always dreamed of painting a mural here and it manifested! 


There was definite progress after the first couple of days. The sky was blocked in over the silhouetted mountains and the beginning layers of the dripped paint was completed by the 1st grade class. They really had some fun with it! 


My awesome 8th grade team of assistants and our mascot, Makana!


There are moments in one’s life where you see things come full circle and your path, with all of its crazy unexpected wild rides, appears as a seamless puzzle layered to perfection. I started my career as an artist at home in Lahaina in the comforts of familiar surroundings in a small bubble of protected love, friendship, community and devotion. Teaching at Sacred Hearts School was one of the most profound experiences of my life. It was there I found my confidence as a creator; it was there I was inspired daily by the gorgeous artwork and expression of 250 children whom I dearly loved; it was there my beloved mentor, friend and Hani mother Maryanna Waldrop handed me $500 to buy canvas, paint and brushes leaving me no more excuses to reach for my dreams; and it was also there that I was kicked out of the nest to spread my wings on the East Coast, reaching for the stars at Savannah College of Art and Design.

That was 15 years ago. You don’t realize how far you have traveled until you are standing on the same playground, with the same church bells ringing, echoed by children’s laughter and of course the ever present power of the same Sacred Hearts School powerhouse goddess-worthy women.  I began 2012 with this experience - returning home to teach once more, leading 200 students through a lesson of layers to both self-expression and the powerful understanding of true collaboration. Seeing their faces light up as they watched colors blend and drip down the wall was dynamic! I love to take kids out of the ordinary with art – remove the expected tools and limitations, the parameters of the edges of paper. Giving them a 240’ long canvas on which to discover a new dimension of what art can feel like is an experience they will carry through life. It changes their perception and teaches the most powerful lesson of all: It is not what you are seeing but how you are seeing it. It teaches them to see their surroundings with limitless vision and potential. It gives them freedom and that is a gift beyond measure.

What compounded the experience and the sense of time passing was that in addition to teaching this course I was reunited with one of my first students, a star artist of his own right, now a professional photographer John Carpenter. The last time I saw him he was a crazy little kid, creating colorful paintings deep with emotion.  Now he’s a man with a beard! Wild indeed! He captured the event beautifully AND jumped right in with the painting – reciting word for word things I had taught him about composition, line, movement, blending – he remembered it all! If you have ever been a teacher you know what this moment feels like, when you see the difference you’ve made. I am so proud of his accomplishments, drive and success.

Many thanks to the amazing students who joined me in inspired collaboration creating a lasting mural memory and to my beloved ohana SHS for all the love over the years. I am honored to be a part of the family.

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Photography by JMC Photography and Bonnie Blackmore.

The Making of a Designer: My SCAD Story

Nikole Nelson

This summer in the last stages of production on the New Balance Experience store, my alma mater Savannah College of Art and Design, stormed Red Hook to film my studio in action. It was an incredible honor to be able to share the richness SCAD has contributed to both my education and life as a whole. Please sit back and enjoy the next 3 minutes as I share my journey, passion, crazy notions and ever-evolving vision. Many mahalos to all who helped me get here; it's been a wild ride indeed!

Behind the Scenes: When Good Sets Go Bad

Nikole Nelson

Demolition bounty: Roofing material.Pre-bleached Kentucky cow bones.Set production in progress.Iridescent paint added to puddles for oily rainbow look.Photographer Teru OnishiMy surprise collaborators!Sometimes a story is too good to keep to yourself, this, my friends is one of those rare glimpses into the unexpected. The design process for the Zink Top 7 spread came together seamlessly. Every experimental idea I had worked perfectly; there were no plan B’s needed. I was en fuego! Even the materials practically found me. In this city timing is everything. As I was walking down the street tar covered gravel, asphalt chunks, and sand dropped from overhead scaffolding right in front of me. Roofers were removing the weathered old materials in preparation for winter storms. It was raining my set! Picture this: An ecstatic woman on the street digging through gravel, in a dress and heels, whipping tools and work gloves out of her limited edition Coach bag, surrounded by baffled construction workers. If you know NYC you know it is hard to stun a construction worker into silence – in retrospect they must have checked the headlines for an escaped lunatic over coffee the following morning. Fast forward, gravels mixed, glued, painted, poly sealer and iridescents used to simulate puddles of oil slick liquid, 2 boxes of bones received express from fellow SCAD Alum, Edward Seay in Kentucky and the set was made! Time for the magic! Japanese photographer Teru Onishi was elated with the design, texture and contrast of grime and freshly bleached gleaming white bone. On a set you try multiple configurations of prop styling and this day was no different. Teru requested that we cut open the thigh bone making it possible to slip the bracelets onto it…easy enough. His assistant went to it, sawing away with the swiftness any coroner would have been proud of. As the bone separated a huge surprise was discovered. Ants and larva covered the table and a wave of insects darted from the bone! Let’s pause a moment…While I love to get dirty and clearly exhibit tom-boy tendencies toward power tools and all things Home Depot, bugs are NOT my thing. Should a rogue insect happen into my apartment, I cover it with a bowl, trapping it for my boyfriend to deal with later. Again…I don’t do bugs! Now back to the squirming ecosystem in the studio…it was like I was transformed…a trifecta of strength surged through me the likes of JEM, She-Ra and Wonder Woman combined! In what seemed like seconds I used my HAND to sweep the ants into a trash bag, grabbed the bone, ran to the sink, flooded it with water, shook out the remaining inhabitants, exterminated several ants running up my arm, wiped down the table, knotted the trash bag and tada! Saved the day! Who knew there was an entire ant village participating in my design process; now that is collaboration! View full project at:
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