We were overwhelmed this week by the number of amazing people that emailed us with Young Creatives applications! We originally aimed for a five-part series, but we’d love for this to now be an ongoing thing – to showcase all your wonderful projects and talents!
First up, we’d like to introduce the exquisite Nina Oswald: the eye-for-design and crafter behind Nina Marlena Art.
Hi my name is Nina Oswald and I create almost life-sized skull ornaments under the name Ninamarlena. The skulls are hand crafted with plaster through the technique of casting and are beautified in my gigantic mess of a garage at home, which I like to refer to as my “studio space”.
I have been feeding the skull-obsessed population Australia wide for about 10 months now. I have always been fascinated with the skull as an object and initially intended to create a single skull to inhabit my bedroom. I saw this as a fun personal project, which was also really a procrastination attempt from my duties as a student. Around the same time a friend of mine was curating IHART; a charity art exhibition in Perth. The exhibition was skull orientated and revolved around selected artists applying their artistic talents to empty crystal skull vodka bottles; altering them in any which way. We figured some plaster skulls would make a suitable addition.
I think in my work I have taken a familiar object, the human skull, and obscured it in some way. I like the idea that a lot of "aliveness"; physical and mental energy goes into making each and every skull which essentially is symbolic of death. I'd like to think there’s certain magic in that. Additionally, in a world of mass produced design objects there is a particular beauty in handmade things as they are rare and unique; no two skulls of mine will ever be the exact same. The overall process; the concept of hand making a one off art piece for a person who displays it in their living environment completes the creative process for me.
What inspires your designs?
It has been exciting to push the project in as many directions as possible; from choice of materials, colours, coatings and embellishments. Working on one idea will often lead me to new ideas and I want to explore each of these before fully moving on from the project. I am most inspired by the work of Tim Walker, Shona Heath and Rhea Thierstein as well as the concepts of the Surrealism period in art history.
In your opinion, how hard is it for young designers to get their work out/get recognized these days?
Instagram has been an enormous aid in exposing my work to the public eye. This is where my skulls were first noticed and word was spread from there. With the extensive reach of social media these days, young designers/artists are not as confined to publicising their work to get recognition, as they would have been 10 years ago.
What have been some of your highlights so far?
I had the opportunity to work on a collaborative skull with artist/illustrator Cheeks Earlier this year. My skulls were used as props in a fashion/beauty shoot by photographer Naomi Craigs and published in Ellements Magazine, which was very exciting. Using fabric as a finish for the skulls has opened many doors for me and most recently I worked on a collaboration with HAK Designs who produces awesome patterned pocket tees and created a matching patterned skull. I am currently about to work on a project with the cutest outfit creators Kawaii Girls which I am thrilled about! The response to my work has seriously been overwhelming and I am so grateful as this means I can take my artistic endeavours further.
What are your goals, how do you see yourself taking your designs further in the future?
In terms of the skull project I wish to explore halving the skull to create wall hanging features and three dimensional canvas art as well as experiment with other casting materials such as wax and resin. I am also planning on making latex moulds from a few different objects when I can find the time! By the end of this year I will have completed my degree in Interior Architecture and post that I hope to combine my knowledge of space and my crafting abilities to work within the realm of set design and styling; creating elaborate shop window displays, extravagant scenes for fashion photography and incredible event environments.
Find Nina Oswald’s work at:
Written by Natalie Lane