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An Eye for Art: Artist, animator and videographer has been creating since childhood

Chase Nickoles, 21, is a local artist, animator and videographer from Westminster. Nickoles grew up on a farm and is still inspired by his pets. He always drew from a young age. At age 9 he had his artwork featured in Nickelodeon Magazine after winning a contest to create the ending to a comic featuring Nickelodeon Magazine original “Grampa and Julie.”

Since he was 10, Nickoles has done hand-drawn animation. He drew the illustrations by hand on a Nintendo DSi that came preinstalled with the Flipnote Studio animation program on it. It had a top screen and a bottom screen where you could draw a series of images on the bottom screen and watch them play back on the top.

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While in elementary school, Nickoles also participated at a horse rescue and took his sketchbook with him.

“At the end of high school, I went to the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. I learned a lot there through print production and video production. Tony Hooper was a great mentor in supporting my interests in animation and I met some great people there,” Nickoles said.

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According to Nickoles, he uses Autodesk Sketchbook, XP-PEN Artist Display 22 Pro and Adobe Premiere to create original animated narratives. “I do voice acting, audio editing, ambient noise, voice synchronizing, and background music splicing for these animations,” he said.

Nickoles attended Carroll Community College from 2018 to 2020. While there he was able to pursue his love of painting under local artist Sarah Abel Deluca. He also enjoyed printmaking classes taught by printmaking expert and Director of Visual Arts, Curator of Collections & Exhibits, Assistant Professor at Carroll Community College, Jessi Hardesty. Nickoles graduated in 2020 and received an associate degree in arts and sciences visual arts concentration.

“Since 2018, I have been making music videos, both of show performances and narrative based, for singer and performer devoN Nickoles using Adobe Premiere, a Zhiyun Crane Handheld Gimbal, and a Cannon T5i,” Nickoles said.

In 2018, he sold his digital artworks featuring parodies at the Maryland Art Place in Baltimore. “One of the pieces that sold was from my ‘McAngelo and McDonatello’s’ series. In that series I took classical and modern influential pieces and put a fast food spin on them,” Nickoles said.

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In 2019, while still at Carroll Community College, Nickoles was the Maryland STEM Festival Art Contest College Winner for digital art. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. His art was displayed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt in their visitors’ center. “This was huge for me, as astronauts are another subject I like to draw,” he said.

Chase Nickoles holds his art piece displayed at the NASA Goddard Space Center in 2019.
Chase Nickoles holds his art piece displayed at the NASA Goddard Space Center in 2019. (Lyndi McNulty)

After graduating from Carroll, Nickoles has begun attending UMBC and is majoring in animation.

“In 2021, my UMBC class of 45 and I, working under professor Corrie Francis Park, had our rotoscoped animation titled “Spooktown Funk” we created remotely shown at the Carroll Arts Center in the “To the Tune of...” exhibition,” Nickoles said. The exhibition was the brainchild of Moriah Tyler, the education and visual arts coordinator at the CCAC.

“Rotoscoping is the process of creating animation by tracing the motion of video to animated sequences frame by frame. The theme of the video was Monster Mash and features the song “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars,” Nickoles explained. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/UbUtyD2q-ks.

Nickoles was a member of the Fine Arts Club at Carroll Community College. He was awarded Club Member of the Year for 2019-2020. He was also selected for the 2020 Carroll Community College Curators Choice Award.

“I like to think of myself as an artist with his hands in many pots. I feel drawn towards animation because it is the perfect meeting point of drawing and video, the two artforms I enjoy the most. Although hand drawn animation is my focus, I will always be designing, videoing, painting, printmaking, photographing, who knows what else. I just enjoy what I make,” Nickoles said.

Nickoles sells some of his digital work through the website “Design by Humans.” Customers can purchase his artwork on T-shirts, mugs and stickers at www.designbyhumans.com/shop/PaNDaPowerRULEZ.

According to Nickoles, you can follow his art adventures on Instagram: www.instagram.com/pandapowerrulez, where you can see his recent animation titled “Ice to Meet You.” “It is inspired by noises in my attic, I wondered what they could be coming from,” Nickoles said. “In ‘Ice to Meet You,’ a man returns to his cabin during a harsh snowstorm. Once settling in with a nice hot chocolate and his sleeping cat, he begins to hear noises coming from above. Rational and irrational possibilities make him nervous to face whatever is living in his attic. The worries build until he discovers the guest to be a friendly raccoon. The three share drinks by the fire when a familiar noise starts back up again. Made with a mixture of animation created on Autodesk Sketchbook, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Premiere, it is a tale promoting kindness.”

He can be contacted at his email nickoles_c@aol.com or directly though his Instagram @PaNDaPowerRULEZ.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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