We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicola Gigante and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nicola, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
This is a very broad question for me since I feel like a melting pot of many different cultures. I was born in Mexico City to a Spanish/Italian household now living in the US. From a very young age, I was introduced to all these cultures by my parents and my family, so I attribute many of my values and traditions to those places. I moved to the US shortly after my eleventh birthday. Leaving my beloved Mexico behind was a very difficult thing, but I was quite excited for the adventure that entailed living in a new country. Having to learn an entirely new language (almost from scratch) and making new friends was amongst the challenges I welcomed the most when I moved here. But I always carried with me something that never left my side, no matter where I went, a true best friend, my art!

Making art and engaging in creative activities was for me and it’s always been my happy place. Art was my ice-breaker. I was always known in school as “the kid that can draw”. I’d draw everywhere, including sketches right next to math problems and inside calculus graphs on my homework, to my teacher’s dismay. I loved it though, so later on I chose to give it a try as a full-time career.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
No two creative paths are the same, and that’s one of the reasons I embarked upon one. I began my career as many artists do, as a kid you’d find me drawing and painting all sorts of things like fantastical dragons, sports cars, anthropomorphic animals (those were weird and still spook me to this day), castles, etc. But then came a time when I had to get serious and choose a career path that I’d have to focus on for college, so I chose to enroll in Industrial Design. I’ve always loved drawing concept cars, it’s all you’d see if you open up my sketchbooks from my middle school and high school years. Fast-forward a couple of years and I got accepted to attend the ID program at SCAD. After half a year of Industrial Design courses, I started to feel and realize that Industrial Design just wasn’t for me. So I started looking around and within, consulting with friends, family, professors, on what I should do instead. It wasn’t until I saw what my Illustration-major roommate was doing for homework that something inside of me clicked. And so in the most impulsive way I said “f*ck it!” and completely switched my career to Illustration (I encourage anyone who finds themselves in the same spot not to fear change. If you’re not happy with your current career track, switch! It’s worth it in the end! They don’t call it the “pursuit of happiness” for no reason) After graduating from SCAD I’ve been very lucky to have worked on many projects ranging from concept art for film and games, to themed experience design, graphic design and illustration for a major cruise line, and illustration/art direction for animated commercials. Yeah, Illustration sure is one big enchilada!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve always been a Disney fan at heart, so undoubtedly I would suggest a visit to Orlando, FL, where Disney World/Universal are a must-see. I’m also huge into hiking and outdoor activities such as kayaking, longboarding, soccer, tennis, and partying (I consider that a sport, if you will). I love taking my friends to the best bars around town to have a good time! (Don’t worry if you don’t know how to dance, I’m pretty terrible at it).

If they are also an artist, I’d take them to do some plein air painting around the city. Plein air painting is a great practice tool and is super fun. It basically consists of painting whatever is in front of you (a bridge, a building, a park, people walking by…a car parked on a bridge inside a park near a building with people walking by…you get the point). Some of history’s greatest artists did some form of plein air during their time. Think of Van Gogh, most of his paintings were done outside on the spot, au plein air, or at least planned there and finished later inside his studio. There is an amazing group of artists based in LA that organize plein air trips around the city and online challenges such as PleinAirpril, which challenges you to paint every day for the month of April. They are called the WarriorPainters, check them out if you’d like to join!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would never be the person and artist I am today if it wasn’t for some very special people in my life. My parents and sisters have always unconditionally supported me and my creative endeavors. They are my rock. As I started my art college career, I met a few friends that I now consider part of my family. I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to two of them, Adriel Meka and Joe Arana. I met Joe on the orientation bus on the first day at SCAD. We clicked instantly, and we didn’t just click because we shared the same love for memes, but because we both came from similar upbringings, and our love for art, music, and animation forged a friendship that is as strong as it’s ever been to this day.
During that first week at SCAD, I also met Adriel. Within the first 2 minutes of chatting with him my stomach hurt from laughing so much. It should be illegal to have that much fun. Our mutual love for art, comedy, animation, music, and our ongoing professional collaborations has forged a truly special friendship that I see lasting a lifetime. Thanks to Adriel, I’m featured in this Shoutout! Merci mon frère d’une autre mère!

Website: www.nicogig.com

Instagram: @gigantenico

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/nicolagigante02/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.