My Creative Life

Visual Resets: Nici Hofer's creative inspirations

The New Commercial Arts co-founder and artistic director reveals three visual stimuli that spark her creative process

By Nici Hofer

Photography: Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier is one of my favourite street photographers - I just love her work. Her photography transports me into fleeting moments of people's everyday lives on the streets of Chicago and New York during her time. And even though I adore her compositions and playful observational skills - my favourite thing about her as an artist isn’t her photographs. It’s the fact that she was more interested in the moment of taking the picture, than she was the final print. She left an astonishing number of film-rolls undeveloped. I find that intriguing. Clearly, for her, the act of capturing the picture was her moment of accomplishment, not the act of looking at it later. I feel that Vivian’s creative process is a good reminder that being fully in the moment, and being totally immersed in the present experience is a big part of creating work that feels right.

Conceptual Artist: Barbara Kruger

Red, black and white. Clean type in Futura Bold or Helvetica Ultra Condensed. Messaging tailored for the short attention span. Barbara Kruger’s work is iconic – it’s unapologetic with a sense of urgency. I’m inspired by her distinct visual language - I want to describe it as a visual battle cry.

Changes and Contrasts

I need a visual reset ever so often. When the daily textures of the world around me become so familiar that they turn invisible, I instinctively look for a contrasting place or experience. I love the visual freshness of a city or a landscape I haven’t been to for a while. I don’t just mean the architecture - it’s the entire texture of a place - shapes, colours, the light, typography, fashion, interiors, people - I love to study and observe all those details and how they differ from place to place. And then once all of it has been integrated into my internal visual library, it’s onto the next place. So essentially, I’m a visually greedy wanderer who will not, and cannot stop, exploring to keep the ideas fresh.

Nici Hofer is the co-founder and artistic director of The New Commercial Arts


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