Art & Design

Two Minutes with Nicholas Girling | Melbourne Artist

By Emma Bangay
20th Oct 2013

Nicholas Girling creates bold, timeless and whimsical pieces with a striking modern edge. I first spotted his creative expression at Snow Pony where I spent an entire catch-up with a long-lost girlfriend talking about nothing but the art adorning each wall.

Formerly a designer for MYER Grace Bros, Nicholas shut up shop on his 20-year design career and now takes the lead from his own creative instincts, rather than the corporate world. The results are authentic and far from austere. The modest artist talks to The Urban List about lamp posts, advertising illustrations and Melbourne's creative heart.

TUL: Where do you get most of your inspiration?
I've had an idea in the last three years that turned out to be a great self motivator. I set myself a challenge to just create whatever comes naturally. The intention was to discover something that revealed my own unadulterated style and for me, that could only be done by continually creating on paper whatever came out of my hands. I didn't over think it. "Don't think - Do!" as they say.

TUL: How would you describe your style?
What I discovered were two distinctive styles: one being quite blocky, abstract and bold, and the other was almost the exact opposite. It was painterly, expressive through the black ink I was painting with. The common thread was an attempt to create art that was expressive through simple lines and shapes and colour and the appearance of texture. I have also been able to combine the two styles and found it had a feel that I love which is reminiscent of the late 1950's advertising illustration, where they used solid shapes and then painted in ink over the top to reveal a simple graphic and illustrative form of art. I just love the expressiveness of some of the creatives back then.

TUL: What materials do you work with?
Sometimes it is coming up with art compositions based on using scissors and cutting up newspaper. Other times it is painting with black ink on paper. I also use the computer to combine ideas and paintings and compose something new based on my physical creations and drawings. As a rule, everything begins on paper by hand.

TUL: What parts of Melbourne inspire most?
I like the little details on things. I don't necessarily look at the city as a whole. Look at the side of a lamppost and you will see where an electrician has added numbers and sprayed lines and carved into the wood and nailed something with some codes on it. This is my hometown and I am proud of it. It has a very diverse creative history. Melbourne is more creative now than it has ever been. I can see a very creative and iconic future for Melbourne.

TUL: Where can we see your work?
I love having art up at cafes. I like it when people find art away from galleries. One is at Snow Pony in Balwyn and the other is 1983 Espresso & Panini Bar, near the corner of Stephenson and Cremorne Street in Richmond. I've never actively pursued galleries but perhaps should?

TUL: Where do you work from mainly?
Richmond. I think about it in this context to Australia. If Melbourne is the creative heart of Australia, Richmond is arguably the creative heart of Melbourne.

Nicholas Girling Art
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All artwork images: ©Copyright Nicholas Girling 2013

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