Self care, Informal mindfulness 4 minute read

5 Minutes With Artist, Nicholas Tsekouras

Nicholas Tsekouras is a Melbourne-based artist whose passion for sustainability has led him to his main creative practice of collage. He uses materials others might consider scrap, and turns them into powerful visualisations of his inner thoughts and feelings.

Nick runs workshops to help young people explore art—particularly the LGBTQI+ community—helping them find an outlet and an expression.  

Nick Tsekouras colouring in his activity template

Tell us a bit about yourself...

Hi! My name is Nicholas Tsekouras (they/he). I am an emerging, queer and multidisciplinary artist born and living in Naarm (Melbourne). I produce vibrant, colourful and chaotic multimedia collages, often resonating with my inner thoughts and feelings on various social issues. Recently, they have been exploring ideas of sustainability, nature, colour, expression and distortion. 
 
My recent works are experimental multimedia-focused, often utilising several mediums. These include collage, watercolour, acrylic, inks, markers, pen, fine-liner and aerosol. 
 
Sustainability is at the forefront of my practice. I'm often seeking out resources that are cognisant of a greener world. Part of this has included recycling and reconstructing his paper from scraps and using found materials such as street posters instead of bought materials. 
 

What inspired this tutorial and activity you created?

The mindfulness board game combines my love and fascination with colour with my appreciation for mindfulness and well-being. I thoroughly enjoy colouring in so thought it would be a cool idea to have it as one of the focuses of the activity. I also enjoy making art that is practical and beneficial. By making the artwork into a board game, I have created an artwork template that can be used over and over again! 
 
Download the template for Nick's activity
Watch the Video Tutorial
 

Were you always a creative person?

Always! I remember watching Play School as a child and following along with the activity directions. As a teenager, this creative urge translated to cartoons, origami and doodling. I started to draw dragons, animals and portraits and filled many art books in High School.
 
In university, I developed a fascination for water-based mediums and collage. I can say with great certainty that I have spent more time in the art studio than in any other classroom in my life. I have always had the urge to expel my creativity. Visual art has always been the most accessible way for me to do that.
 
Close up of Nick's activity template
 

How familiar are you with mindfulness?

I thoroughly enjoy the art of mindfulness and it regularly intersects with my art practice. I am usually quite mindful and am very focused on the task at hand when creating. I can quite quickly get lost in the process of making an artwork and thus am unconsciously being mindful.
 
This isn’t always the case though, so I always have some tricks up my sleeve to try to get me back on track. Listening to music as I create assists greatly in achieving mindfulness as it blocks out other thoughts that may filter into my brain.
 

Describe your creative process.

My creative process begins with me easing into the creative mindset. I usually begin my studio days by doing a quick warm-up to activate my mind. For something that only lasts 10 minutes or so, the warm-up sure does have a major impact on how my day pans out. I think this is because it also allows me to be mindful and present on the tasks at hand for a longer period rather than getting distracted as the day goes on.
 
Once I am set, I begin creating. I usually have a list of projects I have to get done and also several ideas in my head of things I want to make for fun with no outcome in mind. I choose whatever I feel like doing that day and get going. Usually, I do have a rough plan for my artwork but also enjoy letting intuition and spontaneity kick in. I always feel like my work is better that way!
 
Nick Tsekouras colouring in his activity template
 

How do you get in ‘flow’ (aka in the zone)? What does it feel like?

To get ‘in the zone' I have to start my day off right. This usually involves having a nice clean and organised desk, a cup of coffee and water and a clear to-do list of what I need to get done. It is days when I’m not in the studio that this is more difficult as my routine isn’t as strong.
 
When I am in the zone, I feel super productive, creative and alive. It is a place that exists usually for most of the day but not all of it. I can quickly drop in and out depending on how I am feeling. Sometimes I might be hungry or tired and this can quite quickly take me out of that flow state. The key to my flow state is to listen to my body, give it what it needs and then try my best to concentrate on the task at hand. 
 

The state of flow is something we can not simply switch on. It is a state of mind, one that only comes when we’re well prepared, physically and mentally to welcome the creative process.

Nick Tsekouras smiling while colouring in his activity

 

What inspires you and your art?

There are so many things that feed into my creative practice and for different reasons. I am inspired by the natural world, sustainability, expression, energy, colour, well-being and gender. I love walking through nature and am always inspired by what nature has to offer. I am always taking photos of these sources of inspiration and abstracting them through my art. Humans also serve as a great source of my inspiration and are the source of a lot of the underlying themes in my works. Recently I have been focusing on elements of nature, energy, colour and sustainability by drawing on recycled street posters from urban environments to comment on society’s consumption of paper and anti-capitalism. 
 

What are some ways you connect with what inspires you?

I am frequently visiting nature as I commute to the studio, exhibitions and other activities in my life. Choosing to bike ride over transport allows me to always be closer to the world around me. As a result, I get to go down laneways filled with graffiti, through streets with posters plastered on walls, parks and green spaces. Frequently visiting these spaces when I get a moment to rest is also very important to me. It not only allows me to take a break but also gets inspired me. 
 
Nick Tsekouras colouring in his activity template
 

How do you think people can start to use creativity to support their minds?

The hardest part of being creative is always taking the first step. It is the preparation, the mustering up the willingness to say yes to the task and it’s the picking up that pen (or whatever tool you use). Thus, I am always encouraging people who want to be creative, especially to support their minds, to throw away any preconceived notions that anything needs to be perfect and break down these barriers to creativity. Nothing should stop you from expressing yourself through art. You don’t have to make art to share it with others, it can just be for yourself. I think we forget this sometimes with the rise of social media and ‘likes’ playing a role in the approval of our creativity and art. 
 
Close up of Nick
 
Support your mind with creativity and find more activities on our website. Don't forget to share and tag us! #SMILINGMINDCREATES

Download the template for Nick's activityWatch the Video Tutorial
 
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