Artist Spotlight: Nicole Holder

Meet the multimedia creative exploring art as a form of communication


Trigger warning: mention of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts

When Nicole first started creating art, she never expected anyone to connect with it. Using her work as an outlet whilst dealing with depression and anxiety, her practice became a way of channelling her feelings through a multitude of mediums, as well as a place to create something that evokes emotion, for herself and others.

Nicole shares the reasons she started creating art, why she doesn’t believe in perfectionism, and what being an artist means to her.


When did you first start creating art?

I started in 2018 because I was experiencing depression, anxiety and issues with family, and I needed an outlet. I also did some drawings in college and then stopped for a long time – I told myself that I don’t want to get to 50 or 60 and think “I should have explored that more”. I just wanted to do it and teach myself and see what I could create.

You mentioned on Instagram “I aim to speak more through my art if my mind allows.” How do you use art as a form of communication?

Initially, I wanted it to be, in a way, a cry for help. I was surprised when there were quite a few people who heard that and related to that, which was really touching. I never expected anyone to hear what I’m trying to say through my art.


Are there any artists who have inspired your work?

When I first started I never really looked at other people’s work – I just wanted to put paint on the canvas and not necessarily be inspired by anything directly. Subconsciously artists like Dalí were on my mind – just the sombre tone of his art.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of artists creating the art I wish I had the skill to create – really dark, detailed paintings. There’s one artist who creates art that looks like melting corpses and I really like that style. In my head, I’m trying to create that tone.

“I wanted [my art] to be, in a way, a cry for help. I was surprised when there were quite a few people who heard that and related to that.”

Your pieces vary between pencil, watercolour, oil, as well as photography – how do you work across all these different mediums?

I first started out with oil because I thought “oil is the big boy painting medium” but it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would because I didn’t know enough about oil painting to make it work for me.

Then I moved to drawing to perfect my portraits and get my proportions right. I learnt everything from scratch so I was just learning how to draw. Then I introduced acrylic paint because it’s a bit easier to comprehend than oil, then I jumped back into oil.

When I started to get a bit more depressed and wasn’t able to prepare paints, as it’s a whole process, I tried digital painting because everything was more accessible. So it depends where my mental health is at, that’s how I choose the style.


A lot of your works feature people – what inspires these figures?

I always wanted the figures to look like they’re in limbo or a bit vacant because that is how I felt most of the time when I was depressed and anxious and in a low time feeling very numb. I would hope that I was in their state of aggressive tranquillity. In the darkest end of things, I’d hope I was in limbo and had passed on. That’s where the blank eyes come from – it’s all related to the dark thoughts.

“Perfectionism is a disguise for procrastination because you think “if that’s not perfect then I’ll leave it until I make it perfect”. But it’s never going to be perfect!”

What is your advice to other artists who want to start showcasing and promoting their work?

Use whatever platform you’re on and just post your work. You probably already have your friends following you who will hype you up and support you. They’ll encourage you to post more and attract the attention of others.

For me, I just posted on Instagram and I didn’t have the intent for it to be anything. I just wanted people to see it and connect with it. There’s no one way to get started and you might find a way that no one else has come across, so just go whichever way you feel comfortable with.

Being a perfectionist has got in my way. Perfectionism is a disguise for procrastination because you think “if that’s not perfect then I’ll leave it until I make it perfect”. But it’s never going to be perfect! I hate hearing this, but just go for it because it’ll give you that next step.


What does it mean to be an artist?

To create something that allows or garners some sort of emotive reaction. Whether it be just yourself or other people. I think it can be pretty much anything.

If you could star in any movie, which would it be?

Kill Bill, I wanna fight.

See more of Nicole’s work at app.brushwrk.co.uk/user/colebound