Nicholas Kashian was born in 1980 in Bloomington, IL USA and grew up there.

Ridge Did you study art before taking up full time as an artist? Where?

Nicholas Yes, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ from 1999 to 2003 and then University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL from 2007 to 2009.

Ridge When did you come to Berlin?

Nicholas 2009.

Ridge Why did you come to Berlin and from where?

Nicholas I came to Berlin from Chicago after I finished graduate school. It was my idea for many years to come to Europe and it seemed like a good time to make that happen — basically nothing to lose. I had a friend living in Berlin who spoke highly of the city, and I decided to come and sleep on her couch for a few weeks to check out the city — now I am here for over two years!

Ridge Which artists do you consider most influential or just admire?

Nicholas I draw inspiration from a very large pool of artists working in many directions, but certain individuals who I grew up around still remain very strong in my mind — Harold Boyd, Nicolas Africano, Harold Gregor, Ken Holder, Herb Eaton, among many others. These artists were my introduction to painting and sculpting. Additionally, all the artists I work around everyday here in the studio in Berlin provide a good kick-in-the-ass to keep working.

Ridge What motivates you to come into the studio each day?

Nicholas I think what motivates me is the potential that each day holds for innovation and surprise. I truly enjoy making things and there is rarely anything else, besides being with my family, that I would rather spend my time doing.

Ridge Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Nicholas In ten years I would like to be working in a huge studio in Hawaii or South America or wherever, traveling the world and exhibiting, and pushing my work as hard as possible. Really, I want more than anything to be able to have a self-sustaining art practice, however it looks. This means that the only limitations placed upon my work are those I impose and that I can work as much as I want, and make decisions in the studio that are truly my own.

Ridge What is your favorite part of Berlin and why?

Nicholas Berlin is special because it is able to be both extremely vibrant and extremely safe or comfortable. I am recently a first time father and feel like Berlin is a city perfect for raising children and being an artist at the same time. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the city is teeming with art makers — everywhere you look there are studios and exhibition spaces and that energy is in the air if you want to breath it.

Ridge You have always considered yourself a painter. Does that go way back to younger years or later?

Nicholas This feeling goes back very far — my father is an artist and I was in and around painters’ studios from the beginning of my life — so the smells and the feelings of a painting studio are very much a part of me. One of my very first memories is of looking at a painting that my father had made that was on the wall of our house. I always felt that being an artist was the normal thing to do, until I was little older when I found out this is a not-so-normal, and not-so-easy occupation and life-style. And I do feel the most confidence and pleasure moving paint around and feel that it will be in painting that I will make my best efforts, or most honest articulation of life and beauty.

Ridge You work in a lot of different mediums however. Is this something new or have you always worked this way?

Nicholas I do work in many mediums, often at the same time or on the same day, and I have always worked this way. I usually go through periods of strictly painting, but this is only when I can afford materials, and it never lasts so long. It has very often been the case that I learn more about painting by not painting, or am allowed fresh insight into my painting practice by working in other ways, so I am never shy to spend time working with other materials.

Ridge What other mediums have you experimented in i.e. sculpture?

Nicholas My earliest memories are actually of drawing, but I have been painting and making sculptures for a very long time. Sculpture has been difficult to concentrate on because of the logistics of working in 3-D (things like materials costs, moving and mostly because of storage). In university I fell a little in love with both printmaking and collage, and I continue to experiment with making combined material objects, both 2D and 3D, and mining the space between these dimensions.

Ridge You talk about different articulations of beauty. Expand a bit on this.

Nicholas I think there is a constant need to define what beauty is for humans to continue to survive — certain aspects or cores never change, but it is in the articulation of the present-tense definition of beauty that artists work to discover and show. Within the scope of visual arts, the tools available, for me anyways, are image making and the transformation of matter — and within these broad categories millions of options are there to be used. And to be clear, beauty is not intended here to mean pretty ladies, flowers, sunsets, etc, although these can be beautiful. Beauty in this case can be very nasty or shocking or dull, but somehow it resonates honesty about human nature and our environment — both internal and external.

Ridge Why and when did you leave the US?

Nicholas I left the USA just over two years ago. I have traveled a great deal inside my country, but I had only been to Europe once, and for only a very short time. I had been simply curious — mainly because of European literature, art and history, and felt compelled to live here and experience first hand what books and art had taught me, so to speak. Also, there are certain aspects of American life that don’t sit well with me — politically, cultural, social, etc. Things are actually not so different here, except that Europe and Europeans, for the most part, are more ‘laid back’, even though I detest using that phrase — less competitive and less hungry or delusional about celebrity and money and expectations for what the individual ‘deserves’.