Her artistic style is experimental and laboratorial. A visual artist who constantly tries out various techniques and stylistic approaches. She adores imperfection, small details, naive mistakes and intuitive decisions when visualising complex concepts.
This is how Alexandra Nikolova (Ål Nik for short) introduces herself on her website.
She is a key part of many projects and artist collectives, and her works can be found in private collections around the globe.
Let’s hear more about this gifted visual practitioner and her exciting work!
Who Is Alexandra Nikolova?
It could be said that Ål is an artist based in Rotterdam, but the truth is she works and lives between the Netherlands, Bulgaria, and France. Al first got two bachelor’s degrees at the National Academy of Art (Sofia, Bulgaria). She then completed her master’s at the Piet Zwart Institute (Willem de Kooning Academy) in Rotterdam.
Ål cofounded of pen&pen visual collective with Silvia Alba (Brussels & Rotterdam) which specializes in visual translation. Besides that, Al is a core part of Nomadways artivists collective from France that creates international workshops for artists.
Ål Nik’s work includes illustration, visual art, visual translation, storytelling, and graphic design. Moreover, her art is represented in Brush & Bow, a UK-based platform for creative journalism and community engagement. And she frequently takes part in many socially engaged campaigns.
What Is Visual Translation?
Simply put? Visual translation, as it can be seen in Ål’s portfolio, are short and effective messages resumed through the combination of word and picture. Or, in her own words:
“We turn complex information into visuals that are easy to digest, facilitate creative boost sessions and design interactive live fresco boards for a better connection with event audiences.”
The artists come to the most important conclusions that can be easily comprehended and they represent them in an original and likable way by creating visual reports and visual summaries. It can be a visual recording of a lecture, team building, workshop, etc.
Visual translation is also a process of visual facilitation and scribing. It allows people who participate in a group project to see the bigger picture and shape their way to the final destination in a much more clear way. She points out:
“Visualising our ideas and goals means that you get to see them. When things are only written or stay locked in your head, it is much harder to move forward. What I love the most is: when there is a visual summary of a group process, everyone sees their contribution as a part of a bigger picture. That excites people and gives them the energy to go on with the project!”
Art + Activism = Artivism
Earlier I mentioned that Alexandra is a contributor to the creative journalism collective. This leads us to her activism through visual art and the link between art and socio-political issues.
Ål Nik is one of those artists who believe that artists can contribute to the change in the world. That’s why she takes part in projects that promote social causes through art. On her long list there are numerous exhibitions, illustrations, festivals, and events that deal with human rights, mental health, and climate crisis.
For example, she illustrated articles by a Kenyan journalist on her experience of working in Lebanon under the kafala system. The kafala system is a legal framework that allows Lebanese citizens to bring migrant workers to Lebanon. Sponsoring them means gaining almost full control over their employment and immigration status.
What’s more, Alexandra participated in creating an e-book. This e-book was meant to aid mentors in Bulgaria to help women who survived a toxic relationship and need support in building up their autonomous life.
From Designing Viber Stickers To Forbes 30 Under 30
Alexandra involved herself in so many interesting projects. We can’t even list them all!
For example, Ål illustrated a pack of stickers for Emprove’s community group, sponsored by Viber in social projects in Bulgaria. This brings together different projects created by women entrepreneurs.
And this particular project is dedicated to supporting women who have survived violence. It’s spreading awareness for its prevention, and empowers the victims on their path to independence and dignified life.
Achievements to highlight are that her two works were selected for the Biennale of illustration in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2020. Oh, and she is a co-founder of a women entrepreneurship collective.
Speaking of awards, Ål was listed in the 30 Under 30 in Forbes Bulgaria’s first selection of young people in 2013. She was also the second laureate at the European Commission’s Project Passion competition E-Skills: Jobs of the future in 2012.
Exploring Mental Challenges Through NFTs
Ål keeps up with the trends. You can even find her work on an NFT marketplace. From NTFs that highlight the challenges of mental health to those that use classical sculptures in rather unconventional ways, Ål has it all.
Whether the NFT market grows, shrinks, or else merely stabilizes we do not know. Yet it is certain that Ål helped this novel art-form develop even further.
Advice To A Young Visual Artist
When asked what advice she would give to people trying to find their own voice in art, Alexandra says this is the greatest challenge for a visual artist.
“I feel like I am still searching for my voice, because I am still experimenting with concepts, ideas, aesthetics, genres etc. However, it is true that many people say they can always recognise my work, which makes me feel like I am on the right path.”
In her words, not being afraid of sharing your work while still in progress makes people engage and identify better:
“I drew as much as I can so I can try out different techniques. What helped me was showing my work to the world and not being afraid of the feedback and whether being accepted. It took some time for people to see me as a visual artist and that can only happen when you show what you are working on. Sharing your working process is also quite useful – people connect more when seeing you make mistakes or have doubts, too,” explains Alexandra.
Improving and gaining new personal skills doesn’t stop when it comes to Ål. She participates in various workshops and acquires knowledge in marketing. She even mastered the basics of computer programming at Code First Girls and performs as an indie music curator!
Proud to have you, Ål. We are glad that you chose .ME for your domain!