GFDD Artist feature: Nicole Andrijauskas paints her heart out...
If you're reading this - it means Nicole has a show THIS FRIDAY at @ExcelsiorCoffeeSF in San Fransisco, CA. If you can make it - make it :)
“Cross my heart, + Hope to Die
These were the first words we read from our new friend Nicole Andrijauskas, or @chicken_in_a_biscuit on the gram (check her out, you won’t be disappointed. Or you will and at least you learned for yourself.) The words were painted on a Biltwell Gringo for the @womensmotoshow (another one worth checking out) and accompanied by two hand-painted snakes intertwined in the back and both owning their respective sides of the lid, and also in the back - a flower. The artwork set itself apart immediately - not overdone technically, but certainly not lacking in intention or detail. This piece was a story, and there was more to it. There was something about the subtle statement made by Nicole’s art that felt like she was putting her depths on display, hidden in plain sight. We wanted to know more, so we reached out.
In our community of like minded seekers, sometimes it feels like we’re a type of forest - from far glance it would appear we are a sea of the same. Roots, trunks, branches, leaves... but when you stop for a moment to focus on one you recognize the distinctive characteristics that make it stand out.
Today, we’re doing just that. Our intention for 2021 is to grow in depth, not just
numbers and trivial metrics. Part of that is to connect our people with their people, to bring the beauty and brilliance of the individuals who inspire us to those who might find the feelings we have. We wish to contribute to the culture and community that inspires our existence, so without further ado, we wanna tell you about one such individual - Ms. Nicole Andrijauskas.
Nicole Andrijauskas is a working artist based out of the Bay Area in California. Classically trained as a painter, she began exhibiting in galleries and working as a muralist throughout San Francisco, but over the last decade, her focus shifted from fine arts to motorcycle culture as she began painting tanks and helmets. A longtime rider herself, she also got certified to teach MSF courses two years ago and cultivated a lifestyle surrounding art and motorcycles. You will quickly recognize Nicole’s artwork as a standout from other motorcycle culture iconography because it is bright and colorful, with fluorescent yellow, vivid pinks, and purple. Using a tiny brush, she paints highly detailed animals or flowers next to bold-lined, flash-like imagery. Culture classics like flames and skulls are mixed with butterflies or abstract color gradients, somewhat resembling old AMF striping. Nicole mixes tough with delicate and keeps the layouts simple. “It is personal, but not feminine art. It is just art.”—Nicole
GFDD: So if you’re going to see Nicole, be sure to wear a flower in your hair? You’re having a show, finally, this Friday at Excelsior Coffee in San Francisco. How does that feel after 2020 and all of its treachery?
Nicole: It’s been a really weird year but in many ways, it’s been a good time to reset —I healed from a motorcycle accident. I moved to a different city. I got a new job. I painted my ass off. With so many unknowns, cancellations, and closures, I’m grateful that my skills are valued, and yet, it’s been art and music that have kept most of us going this past year. It will be a nice feeling to see a bunch of my friends roll up on motorcycles to appreciate some art and celebrate small businesses that are still powering through, like Lea and Andre of Excelsior Coffee (@excelsiorcoffeesf). They’ve crafted their vision towards motorcycle and classic car culture so well, that it’s become a destination spot. I’m stoked to collaborate with people with this kind of spirit.
GFDD: We’ve gone rounds about how/ when/ what to publish as far as telling the story of your artwork, and you truly are a humble artist with noble intent. We’ve pushed to tell some of the story behind the art because A.) we were curious about the story behind the snakes since first glance and b.) because we like unique, honest and vulnerable stuff here. Talk to us about the hesitation or careful consideration to share what’s going on behind the pieces that will be displayed on Friday.
Nicole: I’m not used to explaining the meaning behind my artwork, partially because no one asks, and partially because I believe it’s self explanatory—art is a poetic way to express a feeling. Sometimes words get in the way of that experience...telling the audience what they should see vs. letting them interpret it on their own. It’s overkill. I invest in ideas and stories that move me, and sometimes those feelings are universal, so words can also make art relatable. The design process is planned but I don’t always know what the finished piece means until I’m done and walk away from it for a while. It’s difficult to be objective about your own ideas.
GFDD: We would never share anything you shared with us without your expressed consent, so we must ask- may we share some of your stories with our small, but incredibly supportive and inclusive audience?
Nicole: Of course.
Kodachrome: This was my second go at painting “straight” lines this way. A color
gradient is so satisfying to me, visually. I don’t know how to explain it, but I bet it’s a lot like the Rothko effect where color evokes certain emotions in us. That really does it for me. There’s also a song called "On the Wings of Love" by Jeffrey Osborne from 1982. It's been used in commercials and sitcoms, and is corny as Hell but it gets stuck in your head. Or, at least it was mine, except sub "drugs" for "love" and there you have it.
Tijuana Scorpions: We've all slept on or under Mexican blankets next to our bikes, in the dirt, or something close to that. We've all tried our hand at gambling, be it love or money, or otherwise. We all know what it feels like to be in a dangerous place, sometimes having fun while there, arguably the best fun. For me, that's all here.
Wolf Pack: My dad loved wolves. Growing up, my sister and I followed him around like a small little pack. He made us hold on to his back pockets in a crowd so as not to lose us, like some weird built-in leash. He was an alpha for sure. Once a G, always a G.
Butterflies: They say butterflies represent transformation. For me, it feels like I'm always there—transforming, changing, evolving. I've moved over 36 times in my life. I haven't stuck with one job or boyfriend for longer than 3 years. I change hairstyles like shoes. Painting is really the only thing I've done forever. Transformation is exhausting, but it also feels normal.
Tropicana: If I ever own a home large enough to have some extra outdoor space, there’s a tiki bar that plays only Drake songs going in stat. The sense of feeling relaxed is something I’ll always want around. Tropical vibes are forever vibes.
Wild Thing: This is the first helmet I painted for this body of work. Originally, I wanted all the helmets to be fully covered like this, but discovered that less might be more. I also get distracted easily and know that if I don’t quit at a good stopping point, I’m basically fixing mistakes thereafter. My mom gave me this theme from the song ”Wild Thing”...she thinks that’s me—wild thing. I thought about all the crazy nights bombing around SF on bikes and mopeds drunk, going from bar to bar, making out and writing on bathroom stalls, being slightly chubby and totally slutty. I wanted to emulate that feeling—both confident and insecure at the same time. Being in your 20s.
XO: Sometimes I think I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy, and find being goofy pretty funny. I don’t know, I guess there’s still a part of me that's juvenile, like signing your notes with X's and O's. In this case, that’s all tied together here.
Desert Cowboy: This is like an ode to my crush on the Marlboro man. That quiet strong type...on his day off maybe, just practicing for his rodeo appearance off somewhere in the desert brambles. Something soft and strong but altogether beautiful.
Loyalty: I started meeting a ton of people at motorcycle events over the years as people in this community do, and sometimes, they’re rad, and other times, they’re
garbage. I realized that the same person you bond over your love of Mezcal with is not necessarily the same type of person you can talk about the death of a loved one with. So, I decided that those who I kept close must possess 3 traits, one of which is loyalty. Knowing my friends have my back is huge for me. And I have theirs. Friendship is fleeting without loyalty.
Go checkout Nicole's show this weekend, Friday at Exclesior Coffee if you're anywhere near San Francisco and give her some words of encouragement - putting your heart on the outside of a helmet is brave and admirable. We love it.
Title image: @Fillamus
Headed Image: Lana @WomensMotoExhibit
Nikki you are so talented! It was good to read about you and all you do. I am so glad that you are doing what you love . I don’t know if you get back to Ohio any but we would love to see you!
Nick and Annette Beam😊❤️