Veronica Nichols is an artist and fixture in Denver's underground music scene. When we spotted her at First and Broadway in this red, white and black outfit, with lots of texture as well as animal accents, we stopped to ask Nichols what inspires her look and where she shops.
Westword: What is your profession?
Veronica Nichols: I currently work a part-time position at Buffalo Exchange, but my big-city dream is to become a full-time painter. I'd really like to see my stuff in galleries. I'm into surrealism and I'm definitely inspired by a lot of pop surrealists like Mab Graves, Mark Ryden and Jenny Bird. I'd say my art is an attempt to create visual fairy tales. I'm inspired by story-telling — whether it be from a painting or words, or word of mouth. I really try to create this story with my art, but it's within the realm of fine art.
Where are you from?
Originally from Chicago, but moved to Texas and I currently live in Denver. It's been a culture shock every time I move. I was born and raised in Chicago until I was eleven and then I came down to Texas, which was a pretty weird experience. Growing up in Texas, I stood out in a bad way and kids would make fun of me for what I chose to wear, because I always wore weird stuff from thrift stores or hand-me-down stuff. But it made me realize who I am; I also realized being different from everyone else can be a strength and not a weakness. I broke free of that place. I moved to Colorado specifically to go to art school after I graduated early from high school. I went to the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. I love the connections I made there.
How was RMCAD?
It was great, although I don't think art school is for everyone. Don't pay full price for it; get scholarships. I studied fine art. I paint in acrylic instead of oil, because I wanted to be a rebel, and I incorporate a lot of mixed media in my work such as fibers, chalk dust, felt, wool and embroidery. I use whatever calls out to me. With my art, I was just rebellious and always challenging my professors during school...and I still am after school.
Who or what inspires your personal style; who are your style inspirations and icons?
I find a lot of inspiration online, everyone from animators to drag queens. I look up to all the weirdos around the world to inspire my style. More than anything, I think I am inspired by animation; I try to be animated and a caricature of a person, rather than a real human. I try to be humorous and superfluous in my outfits because to be human would be sad...so I just add on accessories and accessories.
I am very inspired by dolls. I want to look like a doll that someone dressed for hours and hours in these intricate clothes. I don't want to look like a person, I want to look like a character or a doll. Some sort of creature.
Do you like Lolita style?
I am inspired by Lolita style. I want to find a find a good balance between a street Lolita look, or a '60s psychedelia vibe, or a prim and proper 1940s, 1950s look. I want my style to be a combination of all of that.
What is your favorite film?
I mainly watch animation. One of my favorite films is a Japanese horror film named House. It's very surreal. I love it. It's campy and colorful, but very dark. Visually, it's one of my most favorite pieces of art. It really captures a mix of joy and fear: scary and dark things mixed with really cute things, which I strive for in my art as well.
The Beatles' Yellow Submarine film is another favorite. I watched it so many times as a little kid. The visuals executed by Hans Edelman and inspired by Peter Max always stuck in my mind. It's definitely a move about running from the cops, being yourself and embracing love and creation.
What is your autumn anthem, or favorite song right now?
Right now I am really into the song "Tears for the Animals," by CocoRosie featuring Antony Hegarty. I love CocoRosie. Their style inspires me, and their music shakes me to my core and really inspires my visual art and how I present myself and how I dress. The song is great because it features Antony, and him with CocoRosie and their emotions together are amazing. I love that song so much. I can cry to it. I can laugh. I can rage to it. When I am painting, I listen to a lot of Grimes and CocoRosie, they definitely feed into my artwork.
What is your favorite accessory?
One piece that I love are these collar clips with two gold skeleton hands with a gold chain between them. I have been really into gold lately; everything has to be gold. I love this gold belt. I found it for two bucks at the Halloween section of the ARC thrift store.
What are three words that would describe your look?
Eccentric. Animated. Cute.
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color of all time has always been purple, since I was little. I like to wear red, though. I have been into yellow lately as well. Color always intrigues me. Color theory is something I'd love to learn more about. Yellow is bright and uplifting. Red is eye-catching, alarming and passionate. I have been into gold as far as metallics go as well.
Where do you shop?
Buffalo Exchange, of course. The ARC thrift store. I shop almost exclusively second-hand. It's cost-effective, and I don't want to contribute to the fast-fashion industry. If you want something, I bet someone wants to get rid of that same thing. You can find anything second-hand if you search for it. Second-hand retail runs through my blood; it's who I am. When I wear fur or leather, I feel like I am stretching the longevity and honoring the animal's life by shopping second-hand instead of new.
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What is your style mantra, or something you say to yourself while getting dressed?
I want to make someone's day with what I wear. If I can put a smile on someone's face, then I'm happy. I'd love to inspire someone to be themselves and to be weird, by being myself unapologetically.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Denver, be yourself. People are very into practicality here in terms of fashion, but I want people to throw practicality out the window and be more absurd.