Nico Guilis | Find Your California
I’ve been doing photography since I was nine. I got my first camera while in private painting school and then went to film school, so it’s been a long time of training myself. Since day one I always knew I would be a professional artist. It’s the only job I’ve ever had. Now, I would describe myself as an artist/photographer, filmmaker and surfboard designer.
I started Find Your California after I went through a break up. It was the moment I sparkled at my true authenticity, being me. I was looking to connect back to my childhood and myself while living in New York and feeling totally lost. It was my escape. My freedom. My expression. My point of view. It was and still is all of me.
I’m currently in a phase of rebirthing my art. I feel like every step along my journey has connected me to moments or experiences, both good and bad, that have really shaped who I am. My inspiration is drawn from my childhood in California and then all the moments I’ve picked up along the way. Some of my favorite moments have been traveling with Pamela Katz - we have similar travel energy and go with the flow. We both are outgoing so it attracts funny situations and we laugh all day.
My biggest pinch me moment was Alber Elbaz’s birthday party, with Dree Hemingway, at Hotel de Crillon in Paris. I was 24. Eva Mendez waltzed by me in a gown and some creative director was blind folded dancing under a disco ball. It was like, awesome on another level.
I shoot on film because it’s the only real guarantee of time capturing that we have. Digital is a mess and work becomes pixelated over time. Like one big noisy trash pile. My favourite time period is between 1950-1969 - probably because I must have been alive then. Since I was a little girl, I knew every word to every doo-wop song and my parents were always like “…how do you know that song?” I came back to share the Golden Days I always say!
I choose my subjects and locations based on their vibe. It’s an energy. I see past what everyone else might see in someone. I invent a style for them they didn’t even know was there and let them tap into their confidence. I bring out things deep within people - that’s the magic. Intuition always drives my creative brain. Choosing clients and jobs is done on an individual basis of what feels right. I have to know I can deliver what they are picturing in their heads.
One challenge of my job is always gauging next steps, breaking boundaries and stereotypes about female artists, which right now is so overwhelming. Two years ago I was trying to prove myself to men I worked with and now it’s like woman are eating men for breakfast.
On social media I try to keep it real. Easy. Light. I don’t feel social media needs to be such a heavy platform. I let people escape from the clutter. It’s a bit overloaded. In terms of my career, it has put me out to places. Spaces. Countries and channels I never thought possible. I have inspired so many young females and I’ve been inspired by other people along the way. Karla Otto. Kerry Pieri at Harper’s Bazaar. I email with Jean Pigozzi and we finally met the other day! It was epic. I fucking love his work and we have the same birthday. If that’s not weird…
If you want to get into photography, my advice is: go for it. Follow your intuition and don’t back down. Being emotional or sensitive is never received well - but also being called a bitch isn’t either. Stay strong and true to what you want to showcase - the work always speaks for itself at the end of the day. I’ve learnt that everyone will copy you if you’re good and try to take credit. But you can’t fake an original.
I think if you can be properly trained and college educated - you should. I went to film school. School isn’t about the education you get there because most of the time it’s shit - but it’s about the other artists - their work - the people around you, creating, that is your education. Young artists push boundaries because they have nothing to lose and that’s a really great space to be in.