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

Hi Nicole, what role has risk played in your life or career?
My decision making strategy is best described as “carefully planned impulsivity.” I think pretty much all platitudes about risk, whether embracing or condemning are just that, platitudes. In all aspects of life it’s best to plan for the worst, hope for the best, and embrace the unexpected. I’ve always bristled at those who preach embracing go big or go home exclusively, because let’s be honest, that only works if you have the extra resources to pick yourself back up after a complete failure. Most of us living in 2020 don’t have that luxury. That said, some of my biggest growth as both an artist and as person has occurred when I’ve rolled with an unexpected zag that life has taken. For example 4 years ago I didn’t know how to sew and now I have a clothing line. However I intend on growing my business through hard work and planning. An impulsively applied to artist residency in Norway with Light Grey Art Lab got me started on researching the history of architecture and infrastructure of Los Angeles. Almost three years later I’m still reading anything infrastructure related I can get my hands on, working on a second book of environmental drawings, and have gotten really involved with local housing politics and tenant advocacy. By embracing measured amounts of risk things can come together in unexpected and beautiful ways.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work sits somewhere between irreverence and introspection. There have been points in my practice where I have tried to do the “very serious artist” thing and it never really stuck. All of my most successful works have been the ones that have made me laugh and immediately want to show my friends. I once went down a several year pondering of what would the religion of rabbits be? A fertility and death cult of course! I have a tendency to flit around in both mediums and subject matter. I think it keeps my mind active and engaged. It hasn’t always been easy constantly learning new skills. I’ve ripped out countless seams and recycled untold paintings. But to see disparate skill sets come together in unexpected ways has become a source of joy. I see how sewing has made me better at drawing clothing. The time I’ve spent figure drawing has helped approach drawing the built environment with a more sensitive eye. The 14 years I spent working in television animation taught me to not be precious with my work. If something doesn’t work out it’s not the end of the world. You have a good kitchen floor cry and then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again. The thing I am most proud though of the inclusivity I endeavor bring to my work. When designing I do my best to keep in mind how will this work for different body types, how people express their gender, what fabric feels best for those with sensory processing sensitivities? Can I make this design friendlier to those with limited ranges of mobility? Can a wide range of people see themselves in my work? For so long I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me because I didn’t see art that reflected my experience or clothes that fit my body. The more I tried to force myself into those molds the unhappier I become. It wasn’t until I fully embraced my queer and non-binary identity that I realized I never was the problem. I started making the things I wanted to see in the world and to my delight I have had people from all walks of life respond positively to my work. I want to continue to change the toxic cultural narrative that if you don’t fit in you’re the deviation from the norm rather than the norms being arbitrary and exclusionary. It brings me untold amounts of joy to know I’m not alone in this goal!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Downtown LA is always a must since it’s got such a wide range of things going on. I love taking people to the garment district. It’s one of the places that feels most distinctly Los Angeles with all the hustle and bustle. Like the city as a whole it can be so overwhelming at first glance but once you start to understand it’s rhythms whole new creative opportunities arise. Plus I’m always looking for an excuse to buy fabric and get tacos at Sonoratown. A walking tour of all the beautiful art deco architecture in DTLA is always a surprise for people. There is so much ornate beauty our city that has such a reputation for cookie cutter architecture, bad traffic and smog. And of course while we’re out and about we have to stop into The Hive Gallery to see what’s new. The Hive is my home away from home and is a pop surrealist institution. If we’re out late catching the luchadores and showgirls strut their stuff at Lucha VaVoom is an unforgettable experience. Naturally an after show danger dog is a must! In the summertime packing a picnic for a screening at Hollywood Forever is a good end to a day of hanging around East Hollywood and Echo Park window shopping. KTown is always good for a pampering day at the spa. Nothing like a good soak and scrub down to let the worries melt away. Getting Kogi is an essential LA experience. And finally for a day closer to home in the Westside I like taking people to El Porto to watch the surfers while lounging on the sand before heading over to Sawtelle to end the day with the best Filipino food in town (y’all can fight me on this) at Big Boi. The best thing I can say about Chef Barb’s food is that it makes me nostalgic for a childhood I didn’t grow up in.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There is no question I wouldn’t be where I’m at without Ellen Schinderman! I went to see the “Stitch Fetish” show she curates annually back in 2015 and was just blown away. If you’re not familiar with the show it’s all fiber arts erotica and it’s just amazing fun. I saw all of the lovingly cross stitched pornographic stills and erotic embroidery and just knew immediately someway somehow I had to join in for the next year. I could tell this fabulously inclusive and extremely talented group of artists Ellen had gotten together were my people. Being able to be part of the community has taken my work in unexpected directions. Never thought I’d now be known for my winged penis designs, but here we are and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Website: https://www.myowlhasantlers.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/myowlhasantlers/

Image Credits
Fisheye photo in gallery by Nathan Cartwright

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