Harvey Nichol

Harvey Nichol standing in front of brightly painted skateboards

Photo: David Jaesun

Harvey Nichol

When Harvey Nichol found himself facing some hard choices after moving to Calgary/Mohkinsstsis from Manila as a teenager, he couldn’t have known those struggles would indirectly guide him into a career as an artist.

“A lot of my work really got started when I was living in the shelter around 2015 to 2016. I got into a lot of trouble. I feel like it was one of those formative years in my life where it got me putting my energy into something more positive.

“The art that I’ve been doing really resonates a lot with the experiences that I’ve had, like moving here in the beginning as a teenager. So I think a lot of my art really is a way for me to process a lot of that stuff that happened to me… the art form that really got me started working in art would be doing graffiti and street art.”

It was through this new-found artistic expression that Nichol expanded his creative output to include painting, sculpture, clothing design — all things Nichol undertook as an experiment and as a means to avoid being put in a box. His curiosity and experimentation led him to discover new artistic concepts, such as neo-expressionism and social realism.

“When I found out about neo-expressionism through artists like Basquiat and street artists like Keith Haring… there was an ‘a-ha’ moment for me where I saw that you don’t have to be perfect for your art to be considered an art work. And to me that was a mind-blowing experience.

“When I found out about (social realism), …another a-ha moment came to me and I was just like, you know, art could be more than just aesthetic. I could be like, I could really tell stories that are usually not talked about.”

Luckily for us, Nichol has chosen to remain in Calgary, largely because of the community, but also because of how the city has encouraged his artistic growth.

“I feel like I belong here and people have welcomed me from the time that I was a teenager to now. I think Calgary is very collaborative as a city. It’s very humble as well as a city. And I think that’s a really good place for a home base. And, you know, it has a very supportive environment, it encourages folks to, you know, push boundaries of creativity.”

Learn more about Harvey Nichol’s artistic style and how he reclaims more traditional practices to incorporate into his work on this week’s Storytelling Podcast.

About The Storytelling Podcast

Sharing diverse stories of creativity in our city, The Storytelling Podcast shines a spotlight on artists and projects that connect Calgarians to the arts. Part of The Storytelling Project, this series raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, affecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

Have a story to share? Email us at submissions@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.

Living a Creative Life Logo