The most difficult artists to write about are the ones who are the most serious about their work. How can you tell that they are “serious”? For one thing they have given much thought to what their art is about and what they are trying to convey. One very experienced artist and I had a discussion about that this afternoon. She said, in the end, “it isn’t always about what the artist thinks as it is about how people react to it and draw their own conclusions.” Sometimes feedback is shocking. Sometimes it is refreshing. To art school-trained artists, critique is part of the process.
I am setting up an attitude about addressing Joseph Nicolia because his website demonstrates seriousness and excellent command of design skill and technology. So what the heck is with the use of old style typefaces, that’s what I want to know?
Joseph is exhibiting work in the ‘Pandemic’ show at Epicure Cafe now. Arlington Arts Examiner has covered his work shown there in the past, however brief. Now, we can delve in.
OK, what’s up?
“I am a human resident of the planet Earth, in the Western Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. Journeyman painter, apprentice mountain biker and master grilled cheese cook, he is the co-founder and lead designer of The Fold and Variate Dot Net.
When not connected to a computer to design posters, logos and packaging, he works as a painter, using primarily acrylic and mixed media on canvas. His work is a densely populated variation of abstract expressionism pulling from comic books, graffiti culture and modern graphic design. His influences include Raymond Saunders, Mike Mignola, David Carson, Futura 2000 and Dave Kinsey.
At the end of every year, he paints hundreds of postcards for friends, acquaintances and co-workers in an effort to power-level his painting skill by plugging hundreds of additional hours into that craft.
I really like the way that letters look when someone really cares about them.”
OK, Joe. Here’s a review. Bear in mind that he is a “painter, designer, and printer”. That alerts a reviewer to consider those three aspects. Painterly skills are one thing. Design skills are something different. Printer skills can encompass a range of possibilities, just like “design” does.
Being a painter is the most liberal aspect to consider because who are to cast the first critique against the use of a particular medium, and to say this or that disgusts me or here you miss or there you make the mark?
There’s a splash, followed by natural dribbles to those who paint “properly” with a canvas positioned on an easel. There are big brush marks that hit the canvas with emphatic purpose.
There are spatters like air brush or natural paint splattering from flipping paint from a brush.
Nicolia’s imagery includes human skulls and the front end of a muscle car. There are some birds and vertebrae. While they may evoke a response among some, taken in total, subjects are irrelevant because the design of the work gobbles up content to evoke a voila, a self swallowing whole to which designers sometimes aspire.
Details, you want details? Look closely at these images and you will discover exquisite use of color. It is minimalistic. There is just enough color to make the intended distinction. A designer works with intentions and that shows here.
Type fonts are not just “Old Style,” as Joseph Nicolia applies them with as much deliberate choice as all of the elements in his work.
This is powerful and it is emerging. Applied in printmaking and in product illustration, Joseph Nicolia is avant-garde for the Millennial generation.
See his work at Epicure Cafe in the ‘Pandemic’ show.
11104 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA 22030