Interview with surreal artist Nicomi Nix Turner

Nicomi Nix Turner is an artist based out of Northern California. Creating detailed illustrations that invoke a surreal understanding of the perfection in nature, her works delve into the occult and the connections between alchemy, mythology, decay and birth.
Her hyper-detailed illustrations capture the coexistence of life and decay in a bouquet of fungi, personified insects, bones, flesh and fauna.
Hello dear Nicomi, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

I’ve always had some sort of art making tool in my hand. Art has always that meditative thing for me, even as a child. Art was never something I thought one could do professionally, so when my life started to take that path it was a surprise. When I realized that I could make this something that could also be my “living”, as they say, I just kept busting my as and never stopped working.
What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?

17th Century Dutch Golden Age painters have always inspired me with their attention to detail, minute line quality and haunting still-lifes that incorporated insects and snakes. Willem Van Aelst in particular resonates with me. Books often influence my train of thought as far as perceptions and getting stories brewing in my mind. From Kafka to the Bible.
I’m inspired to create my works because it allows me to create an environment that I can get lost in.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?

I make attempts at keeping a “normal” schedule. Sometimes I give myself some time off to read or travel but usually its just kind of nonstop.

I get up early because the city is quiet and I can get into a better headspace to start working: Answer a few emails, pack print orders, pet my cat, make some food and get to work. I draw daily for 8-10 hours. It gets hairy if I have a deadline- I become a bit of a mess and stay in doors for longer than I should, I guess.

What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperative for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?

I had a brief stint at an art college but was soon hired to do an illustration job…which was why I was going to school. I’m kind of “responsibly-impulsive” so I took the job and left art school. I am thankful that I did this. Working in the industry I was in allowed me to push myself with my own art as well as learn a great deal in regards to the art world, publications, licensing, etc. I can’t give advice for formal education vs self education. Its a personal choice and each takes diligence and hard work to make use of either.

What fascinates you the most about surrealism? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?

Aspects of the surreal and a skewed version of realism and a sense of “rule breaking” with the contemporary genres is often thrilling.
For my own works, I don’t really limit myself to themes apart from manipulations of botanical and the physical form. There is often more symbolism in pieces than I can hope for the viewer to decipher  (I would actually prefer it that way sometimes) however its all there to complete the story.

What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?

The ability to communicate the things I couldn’t utter. That is what I love most about creating.  Being creative is life. I could not imagine not creating- that would be like slowly dying.

Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?

My workflow starts from rough thumbnails of ideas, passing thoughts, prose, etc - those get flushed out and honed in until I work on the final drawing. My sketchbook is half horrible (illegible) thumbnails and half scrawled notes of mythology, nightmares, literary quotes and patterns.
I work with graphite exclusively at the moment. I love the dexterity of the medium and the haunting quality it provides.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

I would love to start working in oils, but I think at this point that will be mainly for pleasure and my own personal experiments.

Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hiding in your studio?

My workspace is two large easels and a small round table. I don’t really like elaborate set ups or complicated things. I have a few antique milk glass vases that hold my supplies, a wall with preliminary drawings and a pile of sketchbooks and notes below my easels. There are insects, cherished remains and all sorts of critters around here.
The worst thing that happened was by cat running circles over a soon to be finished piece. We’ve since worked out our difference and she apparently doesn’t hate art as much as she used to.
I have a lot of things one might consider “weird or strange” in the studio… we’ll keep it at that. I’ve made the mistake of over-sharing my space in recent years and I think that takes away some of the magic for me.

What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?

The toughest challenges usually lie in being too hard or negative to myself. The suffering artist can create wonderful works but at what expense. The biggest lesson I learned early on was to teach my pony as many tricks as I can and to never stop learning and exploring. Travel is my biggest inspiration. I cannot stay stateside for more than a year or I feel claustrophobic.

What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?

All the advice I’ve received has been positive even if I didn’t want to hear it. I suppose the best advice was to not give up on something I love.

What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

The art world is just like any other “world”. There are always good and bad things about it but thats life; can’t let that take the enjoyment out of it. I wouldn’t say the artistic life is lonely at all. I spend most of my time in the studio but I am fortunate enough to have friends who are working artists so when we get to spend time together its pretty rewarding and inspiring. I’m not really that social to begin with… I guess that helps.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?

Working, traveling and forever making. I set a lot of goals and am generally hard on myself so hopefully lots of good things are going to come out of it.

Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?

Be original and work as hard as you can. And then work harder.

Your favorite art or life quote is ...

“The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further.” Kafka

What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?

I don’t get much hobby time but I enjoy reading, traveling and museum hopping.

Do you have an online portfolio, blog or social medias where we can view your work?

My website is and you can follow along on instagram @_fernbeds_

Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?

I´m finishing off the year with a few group shows and next year will be spent working on a large body of work… pretty excited to dive in.
Thank you dear Nicomi, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
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