By Amira Hasan - 18th September 2020
Nygilia McClain: “I create what inspires me to inspire others.”
New York based Digital Artist Nygilia McCain’s work is all about the power of storytelling, creating unique relationships across multiple mediums. A basketball player turned graphic designer, Nygilia epitomises what it means to be a creative — and by balancing her artistic discipline with her sporting pursuits, she is certainly a multi-faceted one at that.
With a Masters in Graphic Design and Animation as well as a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, Nygilia’s art has evolved from something she felt was not just her own, into a flourishing mixed media that embraces vibrant, illustrative and futuristic visuals.
Staying true to her chosen form of creative expression, Nygilia currently works as creative marketing assistant at MediaMonks, a global platform where technology and creativity meet. Outside of work, Nygilia can be found online either creating content for her Youtube channel or Instagram page, both aimed at individuals who want to see how she draws, designs while exploring general themes of her life.
“The more you learn, the better your creations.”
For Nygilia, being seen for the work that she does isn’t about people liking or disliking it, instead art is all about impact and conversation. The creative freedom and scope for collaboration she has as a digital artist means her work deserves the attention it receives.
Nygilia’s professional pursuits in the creative industry are certainly worth following. As a mixed-race female creative in the millennial age, she exemplifies what it means to work hard on your goals in order to overcome the challenges that get thrown your way and ultimately, stay true to yourself.
Join us for an exclusive Q&A with Nygilia, where the artist shares her journey of feeling authentic in her art and the power of self determination.
How would you best describe your creative profession?
My creative profession is definitely a journey in itself. I started off taking graphic design during my undergrad. The reason I wanted to get into design was because I always like how Nike advertising looked. Alongside that, my mom works for H&M so she used to bring magazines home and I would observe the layouts of the pages. Since I was a basketball player before an artist, it was kind of my
moment where creativity was becoming a new lane next to my athletic career. So, if I had to describe my profession, it is about the power of storytelling and developing those unique relationships in different mediums. I create what inspires me to inspire others.
How do you balance your work life? What do you find helps with a busy schedule?
I try to always remind myself that my personal health comes first. The only way I can be a successful creative is to balance myself, physically and mentally. I lift weights three times a week... I also [use] social media or simple phone calls to stay in touch with family and friends. Even if it’s just a small shout, just so they know I am thinking about them. I think what helps with busy scheduling is writing everything down and organising it for you to see on a daily basis. I know I can easily forget something so I always take notes and keep them near my computer for reference.
How did you become comfortable enough with your own creative eye to be confident in your art?
I realised that my work is good, no matter the hundreds of job rejections. I know that I am always getting better and people are taking notice of it. It is not the companies that determine your worth as an artist. You do.
“It is not always about the job, but the experience we get to gain with different routes.”
How did you build your skillset? Did you pursue an education in this creative field?
I built my skill set by continuing education for more opportunities. I feel when people look at masters or Ph.D. as a "waste of time", they don't look at the bigger outcome. It is not always about the job, but the experience we get to gain with different routes. When I did my masters, I also got to do an internship with the marketing team. Because I gained that, now I am able to work remotely during Covid-19. Every creative progression leads to more positive directions for artists. The more you learn, the better your creations.
Do you consider yourself an artist? If not, why?
Yes, but I also consider myself a storyteller because that's why I became an artist.
What is your deeper meaning of the word "identity"?
I believe that "Identity" is your own individual language. Growing up as a mixed-race person, I have had my fair share of complications and identity issues. However, I have learned that no matter what, you are your own identity. Your own perception and appreciation of self. Nobody can take or change that about you.
How does feeling seen resonate with you? And when was the first time you felt seen in the creative industry?
I think it serves as a reminder of all the hard work I put in, the tears, and the perseverance to keep trying. At one point, I recall during my undergrad I was told, because my grades were falling short, to drop out the course and the arts. Imagine that.
What does feeling seen mean to you?
Feeling seen means internal accomplishment. That the work you made, you feel at peace with and you see the spiritual energy it reflects. When I see someone, I see who they are when they aren't putting on an act. The raw silliness or social interactions, whether in themselves or their art. I think that is seeing.
As a person of colour, how do you see the energy evolving for creators of colour within the industry?
I think it is definitely growing. I see so many amazing powerful afro artists on social media and it excites me. I believe the powerful force of black artists will continue to grow, to the point where the industry will have to take them. If not, the progression will still go on and excel more everyday.
What is the legacy that you're trying to build?
I am a free spirit and always about good vibes. I think my legacy is my story. I want my design to help change the world. I hope my work inspires someone, even in person. To live forever in someone's heart is the greatest gift you could give as an artist.
"My richness is life, forever." -Bob Marley