The Days of Nostalgia
Nicolae Negură is a Romanian illustrator and artist currently based in Lisbon, Portugal. He completed a graphic arts degree and masters at The George Enescu National University of Arts from Iaşi, Romania. His practice as a digital illustrator shifted to mixed media illustration and painting, helping him cover a diverse range of creative areas such as advertising, print, and editorial, urban art, press illustrations, or fantasy art, among others.
Nicolae’s work is a combination of strong and garish colours with a rough ink trace that resembles vintage comics. It speaks about people and about the different experiences of humankind, from banal stories of daily life to dreams and feelings.
We caught up with Nicolae to discover more about his creative process and the inspiration behind his illustrations. Here's what he had to say:
Fabrik: Hi Nicolae! We're so pleased to have you as our Fabrik Hero and to catch up with you. To begin, we'd love for you to share a bit more about yourself in your own words?
Nicolae Negură: "Thank you all at Fabrik so much for featuring me. My name is Nicolae Negură and I am a Romanian illustrator and artist based in Lisbon, Portugal. Until a few years ago, I used to introduce myself as a digital illustrator. For a long time, I had been featured and also worked as a digital illustrator, although I was always mixing traditional media with digital media. Currently, I prefer working with an assortment of mediums so I’ve incorporated more techniques in my work such as acrylics, watercolors, markers, etc. My work reminds people of vintage comics, pop art, and days of nostalgia. Keeping always the same expression, my work made use of many creative fields like advertising, editorial, packaging, painting, and urban art."
Fabrik: How did you become an Illustrator, and what led you to begin creating illustrations for advertising, print and editorials?
Nicolae Negură: "I studied Graphic Arts at George Enescu Fine Arts University from Iasi, Romania, where every year one of our main courses was illustration. Although our focus was mostly on children's book illustration, I think with my dissertation project it became clear to me that I was closer to advertising and editorial illustration than any other forms of illustration. After uni, I was working as a part-time graphic designer and freelance illustrator. Then, when I moved to Lisbon, I decided to dedicate myself exclusively to illustration and mural painting. I’ve always been drawn to pop culture, pop art, and more mature subjects in art. I guess this has contributed to my opting for these genres of illustration, such as advertising, editorial, poster. etc., where I could really feel like myself and enjoy what I was doing."
Fabrik: You work with a combination of strong and garish colours with a rough ink trace to resemble vintage comics. Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind your illustration style?
Nicolae Negură: "Besides really liking how a brush full of ink feels on the paper when tracing, and the details it adds to my pencil drawing, the inspiration behind it goes to vintage comics, pop art, and urban art. Having now again reflected upon my work, I've always been attracted to the illustrative part of comics and this became visible in my style over the years of my art practice.
The strong colors are due to my oil painting studies and the adoration for pop-art. More exactly, the paintings of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, which also used vintage comics or elements as a stand-alone artwork. Adding to all this is street art. It's youthful and fresh representation became all incorporated into my visual representations."
"I've always been attracted to the illustrative part of comics and this became visible in my style over the years of my art practice"
Fabrik: You mention that your illustrations speak about people and the different experiences of humankind, from banal stories of daily life to dreams and feelings. Could you give us insight into your creative process?
Nicolae Negură: "My work as a subject shifted a bit from my early years to the present time. When I started, I was more interested in speaking about my experience and influence that soap operas, superheroes, cartoons, movies, and everything pop culture had upon me and around me. But in the end, it was always about people and representing them as it still is now. At the moment, my personal work speaks more about feelings like anxiety, solitude, happiness, and love loss between others. There is always something to add to these experiences as this process is still happening for me and everyone around me. So in that sense, inspiration is not difficult to find as you can find it everywhere.
I’ve been asked several times about who these people are that I represent and never knew exactly how to answer such a question. I guess they are or could be, everyone. Although I use photo references of myself or people I know, I always try to distance myself as much as possible from any reference. Even if people would be flattered by being represented in my work, it is not my main focus. It is only the expression and gesture of those people that I use to express a concept or a feeling."
"...Inspiration is not difficult to find as you can find it everywhere"
Fabrik: Originally from Romania, how has living in Lisbon, Portugal, reflected within your work?
Nicolae Negură: "Besides being inspired by the city, the lovely weather, nature, and the people, I feel as though my career as an illustrator started here. I’ve been given plenty of opportunities here and had collaborations that helped me expand my portfolio and feel appreciated for my work. I started painting murals by applying to open calls for local artists. Within the first year, I already had two street art paintings visible to the public. This had a clear reflection both in my work style and artist status as it led to me being more noticed and appreciated as an artist."
Fabrik: Your art has been featured in international publications and exhibitions. Do you have any milestone projects in your career so far?
Nicolae Negură: "There have been a few and I am looking forward to more in the future. One has been featured in Lürzer's Archive 200 Best Illustrators 2016/2017 and the other one was creating beer label illustrations for a local brewery called “Dois Corvos”. It felt really nice to have people recognize my work because of these labels which could be found in most of the local supermarkets."
Fabrik: Can you give us insight on any projects that you’re currently working on?
Nicolae Negură: "Yes, right now I am working on a book project that consists of the paperback cover illustration and several inside page illustrations. It is in early development as I'm still working on the drafts that will be presented directly to the author. On the side, I am working on a personal project that consists of several acrylic portraits on paper and canvas, and a few other paintings of landscapes and other objects. These are based on reflections and ideas collected in the periods of quarantine we had these past two years. "
Fabrik: Final question. What do you like most about Fabrik? What's your favourite feature?
Nicolae Negură: "I like that most of the features on Fabrik are very user-friendly and I find it very easy to upload and manage my projects. The themes fit my work perfectly and add a very good and professional touch to my portfolio."
Nicolae uses Calico, a magazine format theme with unique homepage layouts and several project layout options geared towards presenting longer-form projects and blog posts. Creatives with lots of projects will appreciate Calico’s customisation options.