Interview with Nikki Cross

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A few days ago, i discovered and featured artist Nikki Cross and i was amazed with her creative and colorful work. I decided to interview her and we had a nice and inspirational talk on her craft,origami,creativity and more. Enjoy!

Can you tell readers a bit about yourself? 

Twenty nine years of age, female, Sagittarius, progressive, east coast transplant to Los Angeles. I live with my best friend, and collaborator, and husband Jake Keen and our pet bird and feel very lucky.

What is your earliest experience like discovering origami and when did your interest in becoming origami artist start?

Somewhere around age 12, I borrowed (stole) some of my older sister's origami books. I was kind of a solitary kid, I had no problem spending hours alone working on crafts. Ever since I can remember I have been a paper hoarder too – books, magazines included.

It's taken me a long time to actually consider myself an artist, and really only in the past 2 years did I truly believe it myself. In 2010, when I quit my job and moved to Cali, I was like ok, the job market stinks, maybe I can start an Etsy shop. So I guess you could call me a late bloomer. 

Besides the beauty and creativity surrounding origami, what do you think is the essence and the best thing about Origami.

Origami is a way of thinking. With an infinity of options, origami teaches us to think openly, and be fearless. Because all you have to lose is a little piece of paper. Try it this way, try it that way, try it again with different colored paper. Paper-folding is meditative for me, and sometimes I feel like I'm retraining my brain to think in a problem-solving origami way. I'm not surprised that origami has been used by scientists to solve problems like packing satellites into rockets so they can be shot into space, and then unfolded. 

How was your learning experience when you first started and how have you evolved from then and now.

Early on it was all origami books, I learned all the basic base folds, how to read the diagrams, and then I'd just repeat the same fold over and over again until I memorized it. Now, I'm much more experimental, and while I still do research diagrams on the internet to get ideas, I rarely stick to the directions. Lately, I've been trying to go for realism in making specific kinds of flowers and leaves – poppies, tulips, lilies, pansies, etc. so I'll start with a square base (excellent for flowers) and just see what I can come up with. Origami is full of happy little accidents – as Bob Ross would say. I keep a big box of “prototypes” so I can look back on them and remember how I folded them. 

What is the creation process like working with your partner Jake, and what is the average time you spend on a project.

I would describe our creative process as two people living inside a monster, sharing a brain, with 4 arms and hands. They say when you work for someone else its 40 hours a week, but when you work for yourself its every hour of every day, and that's true! It has become so integrated in our lives, we get ideas everywhere, out in nature hiking, or watching birds on the beach, we discuss art ideas over dinner, in the car, anytime, we share sketchbooks. But, usually we go about making our stuff on our own. For our origami mobiles, Jake makes the wooden frame, and then I'll hang the origami from it – for example. On origami projects, I'll usually spend 1 – 3 hours on a single bouquet of flowers. For paintings, anywhere from 2 months to a as long as a year finishing one.

What has been your most challenging project so far. 

A friend who is a photographer had this great vision of a model wearing a wig made of origami. My brain hurt trying to figure out the wig part, how to create a structure to hold up all those hundreds of pieces of origami. I'm so glad I pushed through my self-doubts. 

What is the most important factor to you when working on a project. 
That it means something, and hopefully that meaning is coming through. 

What else are you passionate about besides paper crafts and arts. 

Well, I studied Sociology and Urban Planning, and worked for a few years as a City Planner – definitely still interested in politics, and public policy though it doesn't feel like a good career fit for me anymore. I have much passion for my friends and their many talents, guacamole, bowling, stars and the universe, and animals especially birds.

What is the perfect working mode like when working on a project.

Cool weather, windows open, sunshine, fresh-squeezed juice, music or movies playing, high energy but low stress.

Besides origami, you work on other paper crafts such as greeting cards and also do oil painting. How do you go about working on a wide range of mediums.

I say that I have a bad case of Curiophilia – which I define as - the unnatural love or desire for the new, the unknown, the weird, to the exclusion of the normal, everyday and the known. I work in a bunch of mediums so I don’t get bored. I start with ideas that are racking my brain, or thoughts I'd like to put out into the world, and then decide which medium would be best for the idea. Origami is definitely my instant gratification, while oil painting is a bigger commitment.

In your opinion how will you define creativity.
Using that lump three feet above your ass – haha! Or more specifically, I think it is using the right side of your brain. I think the human brain was meant to be creative and solve problems, and art is evident in every culture. Somehow we forget to be creative or we get stuck in a left brain loop of anxiety and analysis.

Where is your favorite spot in LA.

LA is my muse – the beach, the sunsets, the desert, the mountains, the art and music subcultures. But ok, if I had to pick just one spot it would be Griffith Observatory, a wondrous place to watch a sunset and see the glittering city lights.

What do you like most about what you do. 

I feel free, I can be myself and I'm happy with myself. I have no ethical or moral trepidations about what I'm doing.

Find Nikki here :