Hey There Nicole, Looking all gorgeous and vivacious. This 21 year old female, currently studying IT with Business management at Queen Mary University, London but clearly should be chasing the photography path has come to show us you do not need a degree to feed talent. She has been born and bred in North London and somehow brings her African heritage to the surface of her work.
There is a difference between being naturally great at photography and learning the skills and thesis on what it takes to be great - the first option is Nicole Osula.
Now I am not great with cameras, hence I am not sure which ones are great for creating such mind blowing images that bleed out color, animation, energy, humor, black beauty, cultural appreciation and of course POWER. (Little secret; VSCO is one of her tools)
Now with many images being predominantly of the white background, it seems Nicole has taken an entirely different route and this compliments the black heritage and the beauty we embody within.
Think the silky chocolate skin, caramelized mocha tones, candy floss hair, a goddess mane, the luscious curves of the African woman and the striking eye of the males physique as well as that golden brown sugar glow.
Enough with the appraisals, and here is the relaxed interview in which she answers a few of my questions and don't forget to check out her Instagram page for your daily dose of the rainbow and collaborations.
1. Behind those camera lenses, there is a strong female who has a vision. Tell us more about yourself?
Haha hi there!! My name is Nicole Osula, I'm 21 years old and I was born and bred in North London. I'm three quarters Nigerian and one quarter Sierra Leonian. I'm a lover of Fruitella and Supermalt and till this day I am still finding it hard to fathom why God placed two such beautiful delicacies in my life. I can't complain though. *haha*
2. You are getting a degree in IT and Business Management but yet, your Instagram page as well as your social label is a photographer. Why photography? Is it more of a passion?
Haha I like this question. Photography is definitely an immense passion of mine, but the funny thing to me about it is that, it had developed so out of the blue. Initially when I joined Instagram I was documenting random bits and pieces I came across in my everyday life - most of these images consisted of clouds, flowers and trees haha. I don't know, there is something about the candy floss nature of clouds and the vibrancy of flowers that I love. The intricacy of tree branches is something that never fails to fascinate me. It got to the point where I'd literally stop every fifteen minutes and be like, "wait guys!" just so I could capture one of these beauties for the umpteenth time. Every so often I'd whip out of my phone and ask a friend to stand by a nearby coloured wall so that I could capture them and then we'd continue going about our day like nothing happened haha
The summer of 2015 is when I made the decision that I wanted to take portrait photography seriously. I began to realise that I really enjoyed capturing people - more so than I did the clouds, flowers and trees (most of which have been deleted lool). I decided that I wanted to grow, I wanted to reach out to other creatives that I didn't know, as opposed to solely taking photos of friends. I messaged a lovely Instagrammer by the name of Ejatu Shaw for a collaborative shoot and since then, with every new person that I took portraits of, it became more and more apparent to me that capturing people is what I love doing. The whole experience gives me this... Buzz. From finding people via Instagram who I feel would help create my visions and birth them into reality, to meeting them and styling them, to exploring locations - the process is all very exciting to me.
It became apparent to me that in order to be better, in order to see growth; I needed to invest. I needed to use a medium that would help elevate me and take me further on my journey, as opposed to relying solely on an iPhone, so I started saving up for a Canon. My best friend was aware that I was saving up and had asked what camera I wanted to buy. I told her, not thinking anything of it at the time. Little did I know, she was making plans to buy the camera for me and actually ended up surprising me with it this summer for my 21st birthday. I cried and just stared at the box for ages. I couldn't even open it, I was in shock haha. I promised her she'd be the first person I captured.
3. It is safe to say 80% if not 100% your subjects are of an African or Black culture. Is this on purpose and why?
Ah yes, this is deliberate :) I think there is something majestic about the black skin. I appreciate melanin and enjoy capturing its many shades. I especially love capturing darker tones as I feel as though darker complexions are demonised in society and in the media, and that's far from okay with me. Why should it be acceptable to make people feel as though they're unworthy or not good enough simply because the shade of their skin isn't, "desirable" in your eyes?
For a long time when I was growing up I thought I was unattractive because I wasn't as light as some of then people around me, but as I grew older and started a journey of self love, I came to realise that my mentality was actually pretty stupid and idiotic. It was offensive, not just to myself, but to other people across the globe who are also dark in complexion. In addition to that, the mentality that I had was offensive to God, who had created me to be no other way. At the end of the day skin is skin, and no matter the shade, no matter the complexion, we are all beautiful. There is majesty in the black skin and I have come to love the truth that, it is in melanin, that I swim
As well as appreciating varying skin tones, I am also a big enthusiast when it comes to vibrant colours. I often like to incorporate bold flowers in my work, as well as head-wraps and jewellery that are vivacious in nature. There's something about them that puts a smile on my face haha, and I love the way in which bright colours skip and dance upon on the surface of melanin - as though they are further complementing the radiance of black skin.
4. What is your take on photography of this age in comparison to its’ history? Has it gotten more authentic or just people playing with what is already out there?
I do feel as though photography has gotten more authentic. I feel like we are in a generation whereby people aren't afraid to express themselves in a creative manner. I feel as though restrictions people may have felt previously have been lifted. In the same vane, I do also feel as though we play about with what is already out there, but in a way that is good. Images from the past are a means of inspiration and help aid the birthing of new vision.
5. If you had to collaborate with any magazine or online platform, which would it be?
I would like to collaborate with Vogue magazine. I hope to photograph Lupita Nyongo one day - I think she's awesome!!!
6. Lastly, what is on your bucket list? What would you like to achieve before you hit your 70’s?
Haha we'd run out of Fruitella if I were to tell you things on my bucket list, but we have three cubes left, so I'll share a few. Before hitting 70, I want to know that I've done my best to live a happy and fruitful life. I want to have left meaningful imprints on the hearts of people encountered during my journey.
I want to have made my loved ones proud, sipping on endless bottles of Super-Malt with a peaceful mind knowing that my purpose has been fulfilled.
Who says an individual cannot be humble and ambitious in the creative industry? I challenge you now because I now bring to the stand, Carmen Morenna Lima. 19 year old Brazilian female heading into her 20's pretty soon and she talks life as an artist, a Brazilian and of course future plans. Oh did I mention she had to choose between Picasso and Matisse?!!
As usual I scout out underground talent (came across her Tumblr and Instagram and voila!!!) and try to connect with them because in all honesty; I believe these creatives could be the next Matisse, Nick Knight and Vivienne Westwood.
Morenna Lima has a deep rooted interest in the arts, so deep she sketches and paints whatever triggers her inspiration circuit- be it flowers or a bee on your lips.
The talent is clearly there and more importantly the passion is there,and that is what differentiates her from the other so called 'artists'. Enough small talk, feel free to read the mini Q&A's accompanied with images of her work.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m about to turn 20 years old; I’m an INTP Virgo. At this age I already consider myself a crazy cat lady but despite this I collect unfinished drawings and Brazilian Vogue magazines - not for the fashion tips but for the different stories about icons from my country that made history within the outside world. I love all kinds of music from Modest Mouse to Beyoncé. Travelling the whole planet in my dreams is part of my daily routine. Yet, travelling and getting to know new cultures is on the top of my life list. In the end, I can’t describe myself without saying that I’m a piece of everyone and everything I know plus my own insecurities. Just constantly learning about people to see who I really am.
2. What does art mean to you? And do you think your lifestyle has a huge impact on what you create?
It means giving life to something/anything. There’s no such thing as a painting or a drawing to give life to a place. I would say that art has been influencing my lifestyle. I learn to see beauty in small things/imperfect things, I get a new point of view and it definitely makes life more bearable and meaningful. So, learning that ‘the beautiful’ is not only in the obvious is giving me life.
3. Illustrations or Drawings? Would you say you are equally in love with both or you lean towards one more and why is that?
As the most indecisive person ever, I’ve got to say both. When I’m drawing in pencil, it makes me work harder because of the constant pursuit for perfection, trying to challenge myself even more. Now the illustration taught me that I could also have fun if I get out of my comfort zone. However recently I have tried to learn more from the possibilities illustrations gives me.
4. Rio de Janeiro, with its’ cascading mountains and endless waters as well as the perfect holiday weather- what is life like in this beautiful seaside city of Brazil?
Rio could be the best city in the world if the politicians actually did their job. The truth is that we live and also survive here. But besides the contras, Rio is blessed city. It has a huge variety of different personalities like music, dance, art, and people! The landscapes can clean your soul and make you feel like a brand new person every time you look at it. The food is phenomenal, and I wouldn’t trade this food for none else in the world - maybe for 10 years of free pizza. *Kidding.*
5. Do you see yourself ever moving out of Brazil? What are your future plans and aspirations?
I do, yes. It’s not in my heart to stay in just one place till my last days. I’d love/can see myself, staying in Los Angeles or New York for a year… Or Canada, The UK, or any other beautiful place I can feel comfortable with. My main future plan is to completely discover myself as soon as possible, as a person or about art - I already had my blue phase so I think I’m halfway there. Have a first exhibition; get an apartment to myself so I can finally get my cats! I want to buy a house for my mom, and make her happy so I can be happy too and one day, study psychology to pursue this career when I get old.
6. Last but not least, Picasso or Matisse? Cubism or fauvism?
Picasso and Matisse plus Romero Britto. Shoutout to the Brazilian artist whom a lot of Brazilians hate. Congratulations on your success! Thank you for putting Brazil out there and for keeping the pop art spirit alive. (I’m sorry that my mom didn’t believe in you and didn’t marry you, tho). Cubism for the imperfect perfection and fauvism for the perfect imperfection.