Saturday, May 30

interview: pippi nola (artist, shitty friend)

Pippi Nola is in her second year at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland. Although she is a few years younger than me, we have spent many summers chillin' and chattin' on Great Barrier Island. After following Pippi on Instagram , I was stoked to watch just how much she was bossin' it with her art. Now, this young talent has taken it up a notch by starting up her own business, so everyone can wear her work!

What is "Shitty Friend"? Are you one?

Shitty Friend came about strangely. The name came from a couple of places - I was drawing a picture last year and it kinda looked like a fluoro pink poo, I thought of it as my shitty friend because it had eyes and a mouth, but it looked like a shit so it was kind of literally a shitty friend (HA). Also, I was drawing my first proper design this year for a t-shirt and I'd written 'Shitty Friends Make Shitty Lovers' around the image. It wasn't meant to be taken too literally, but I suppose it's something that I've been thinking about more recently, after making transitions from high school friends to art school ones.

It seems like your style is a mixture of pastel colours, bold outlines and kinda naughty/humorous subjects. What influences your art and fashion style? 

Hmm, I've definitely always been influenced by street art and 'street style' - whatever that is. I always wanted to do graffiti art but I can't handle a spray can yet, so that dream hasn't been fulfilled. New York in the 1980s and its art scene is super cool - Keith Haring, Basquiat, Gary Panter and their group are all artists who I refer to constantly. I like colour and brightness and what I suppose is seen as 'low art' like cartoon drawings and graffiti.

Being part Japanese has influenced me a lot too. Japan is crazy and definitely embraces a kind of childish sense of humour. The Japanese love their animation and cartoons but at the same time there's this bizarre sexual undertone through a lot of it, and that kind of fascinates me. I think I like to draw the way that I do because in that form you're allowed to be more playful with your expression of ideas, which is how I kind of am in real life (also I can't draw a realistic anything to save my life)!

I've never been a minimalist or 'mysterious' and aloof (as much as I wish I were) and I think that just comes out in everything I do from how I dress to what I make.

How have your parents influenced or inspired you?

I'm realising more and more how influential they've been. I mean looking at my dad's stuff from when he was at art school is bizarre because I can just see where everything I make - and how I see the world - has stemmed from. We share a similar, kind of strange and immature sense of humour, which is great but annoys Mum endlessly. We have very similar aesthetics to say the least.

Mum is probably the wisest person I know and the most intelligent!  She is so encouraging, and has ingrained in me that I can do anything I put my mind to, and go anywhere I want to go, as well as constantly reminding me that I'm intelligent and to never let anyone put me in a box...

Both my parents basically forced me to apply to do fine arts (I never saw myself as an art maker before conversations with them in my last year of high school) and basically I am forever indebted to them haha.

Why make a "feminist" t-shirt? Is your art a rebellion in some way?

I don't see feminism as a rebellion at all, it's a subject matter that I've always felt hugely passionate about and I feel like it's a cool statement to be putting out there. Wearing it has created so many conversations - some amazing and some pretty problematic- it was one of my first ever prints. I saw (through social media) that Petra Collins was posting about this brand 'It's Me and You' that her friends Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis started, basically doing a similar thing and printing 'Feminist' on tees and undies. I kind of just thought that rather than spending the money for shipping etc I could just print something like it myself! Then people started getting interested so I made more to give/sell to other people and I guess that's how all this began haha!

What do you want your art to achieve?

Ooh umm, I guess with my t-shirts I just enjoy seeing people wearing the things that I've made. My drawings are kind of an extension of my sense of humour and I suppose the way I see the world. And so to see a person wearing, and supporting it makes me happy! I like to just think of the most bizarre scenario and then see it come to life as something that I've made. I guess at this stage maybe my art is just about making myself excited.

What do cool people like you do in the weekend in Auckland?

Well I mostly enjoy going to gigs just around town, hanging with friends etc. I've stopped drinking so much, which has been good for me. Last Friday I got a tattoo, which was nice. At the moment though I've mainly been either in the studio or drawing and watching Scandal in bed!

What's your favourite street art/cool random artistic detail in Auckland city?

There's this spot on Symonds St that I've kept kind of revisiting since 2011 that has great graffiti, although I'm familiar with a few different people's tags now so it kind of takes away something from them now the anonymity isn't there. I just love a good spot that has layers and layers of tags and art to create this beautiful background of colour for newer layers. Also this abandoned building next Elam has amazing views when you climb up to the roof and is such a beautiful spot to visit when you need a break I hope they never pull it down!!

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