AN ARTIST'S SAFE HAVEN

It was a pleasure for us to interview Nicole Roquel, an innovative artist from Hong Kong, who has been creating art since her kindergarten years. Her art flowed with her smoothly throughout the years and now she is a successful illustrator and an art teacher.


The inborn talent of art that Nicole was gifted with, soon turned into her passion, and her art now inspires thousands of people. She has been exhibiting a lot of love towards the community by designing art that warmed everyone’s minds and souls.





Let’s take a look at our beautiful conversation with Nicole which will help us understand the depth of her art even better.


What’s your story? Where are you from and what led you to art?

My name is Nicole Roquel, and I am a Filipino born and raised in Hong Kong. I've been drawing for the longest that I can remember – My earliest memories of creating art were hogging the box of crayons in the corner of my kinder garden class, following Neil Buchanan's arts and crafts tutorials from the 90's kids TV show “Art Attack”, and peeling off the paint of my brother's bedroom walls to reveal what I believed was an engraved picture of an old grandma residing in an old cottage (I actually think that led to my first official sketchbook gifted by my very flustered mother!). I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Illustration and now I am a freelance illustrator and an art teacher. One of my biggest aspirations is to be a book illustrator for children or young adults.”

I was especially reserved and anxious as a kid, and so I found art to be my easiest way of communicating my thoughts and feelings. Whenever times were difficult, I found art to be therapeutic and like a safe haven where I could explore my dreams without limits. In a way, art still plays this role in my life today.”

On being asked about what inspired her the most, Nicole says, “This took me a while to find an answer because I feel like I take inspiration out of many things, like music and fairy tales (and of course, I can't forget about Tim Burton!). Perhaps this may sound selfish or egocentric that I think my most honest answer to this question as of now is “Myself”. or rather, my old self/selves. Lately, I've been slowly learning to truly own my stories and to find the strength from the Little Nic whose voice I feel had been so riddled with anxiety and trauma.”


Nicole loves to make her art with Watercolour, ink, pen, and colored pencils.


While speaking about how her creative process helps her with mental illness, Nichole had a beautiful response. She says that she likes to give herself ample time before starting an artwork/project for idea exploring, pencil drafting, and color testing. This way, she can feel more at ease and confident with how to approach the final piece.


You can check us out at https://www.instagram.com/drawformentalhealth/?hl=en to feature yourself with us or to explore more such brilliant artists.




"I try to illustrate narratives that I hope people can resonate with to an extent - Embracing the trials and celebrations of being a third-culture kid and acknowledging the journey of self-discovery despite anxiety and trauma."

How do you balance creating art for yourself and creating art for clients?

"I mostly create art for myself but whenever I get the chance to do clientele work, I like to try to find clients whose vision/ideas can align with mine so that I can deliver my best work to them without feeling very restrained."


While we were having this conversation with Nicole, we were interested to know if there are other forms of creative art expression that she practices. To this, Nicole says that at an early age, she used to perform singing and dancing but later, she felt less confident due to anxiety. She would love to pick up these art forms again if she ever gets a chance.


How do you believe artists can help destigmatize mental health?

"I think that artists can help destigmatize mental health by being more transparent about the inspiration and even more so the process behind the artworks, including how to cope when faced with an artist's block or even with mental disabilities. I think through this, not only would people have more insight into the potential emotional and mental demands of being an artist but also this may give value to other artist peers by feeling seen and less lonely."


What’s one piece of advice you would give to a person who wants to explore using art as a form to express their emotions or thoughts?

"Pace yourself and listen to your body and intuition as you work on your craft - There are many days when the inspiration won't be fully present, or when you may feel overwhelmed by all your creative energy, or even more so your vulnerability."


We are sure you are as excited as us to explore Nicole's art, so you can find her on @nicroquel.illustration and take a look at her stunning artwork.