I can’t remember how many years ago I met Nicole Cohen of SketchFortyTwo but I do know that I met Nicole through my sister at my parent’s pool.
Yes, Nicole Cohen makes an impression.
She is smart, opinionated, creative, kind, thoughtful, and curious about the world around her. She’s an established artist, photographer, interior decorator, and an avid gardener. She also rides horses regularly and heck, she’s even made her own wine in barrels out of her apt in NYC.
Over the years, I have called on Nicole for business advice and to take photographs for my blog. In spite of her busy schedule, Nicole always says yes and is always generous with her time. I’m in awe of all her professional accomplishments and thankful for her friendship.
If you don’t follow Nicole on Instagram, I highly suggest you check out her feed. Her images are captivating, ethereal and she captures the extraordinary in life’s ordinary moments. I think I am most taken by the vivid color in her photographs. You will know what I mean when you see for yourself.
I recently had the opportunity to get together with Nicole for a Q&A over some lattes.
Hope you enjoy!
1. What came first art? design or photography? Did they start out as hobbies?
Nicole Cohen: Design was definitely a passion of mine first. I started getting interested in design around 2006 and started the blog in 2009. When blogging first started, it was ok to just repost images from the web as inspiration. But as I grew as a blogger I wanted to create my own content and then became interested in photography because I needed to create images for the blog. I assisted interior photographers on shoots and learned the craft that way. I carried a camera with me every day for years. I began styling a lot of different shoots, and then slowly doing tiny design projects. Through the blog, interior photography, and styling, I learned how to hone my eye and vision. In around 2016, I was approached to do a few bigger design jobs and started to fall in love with the process!
2. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional life?
NC: I don’t really know! I keep trying to push forward and go where the inspiration takes me. I’m very influenced by my peers on the web, obviously, but I also try not to judge myself by anyone else’s standards. My husband has a very can-do, positive attitude, and that influences a lot of my career choices and behavior. He’s very encouraging!
3. What do you like to photograph most?
NC: Rooms! Things that don’t move, Americana, and nature!
4. Do you have a current muse?
NC: The kids are always my muses. They hate being in photographs now… but my interpretation of the world is colored by their existence… in photos, I try to capture a feeling of happy-sad or sad-happy and that’s a feeling that I found during motherhood… I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else!?
5. Where/how do you get most inspired?
NC: I LOVED quarantine. At first, I was overwhelmed with anxiety and panic. I woke up with a pit in my stomach and nothing to do (except housework and zoom) then I started to channel my creativity into photos, design ideas, cooking, baking, cleaning! I made furniture and art and aside from the panic and Lysolling mail, it was a very positive time for our family.
In general, I let ideas incubate for a while. I take a seed of an idea that I maybe got from Instagram or books or travel, and then I kind of leave the idea somewhere close by, metaphorically. I don’t actively think about it until I’m ready but somehow the idea stews until I’m ready for it and then the rest of the process is easy!
6. How do you balance it all ie family/work…?
NC: It’s all challenging. Working from home helps, but also hurts… right now I’m juggling “backyard camp”, pick up and drop-offs, a new baby and a number of projects that I didn’t think would be happening right now but are because of COVID. There’s no such thing as “balance” but I do try to turn off in the evenings and not work at night and on weekends. I also try not to judge myself and to be nice to myself. After all its only design and photos and almost nothing goes so terribly wrong that it can’t be fixed. In a time of corona, I look at things with a different lens. I also find that we’ve trimmed a lot of fat in terms of social obligations and other horrible pressures we put on ourselves pre-Covid. The pace is slower now… so even though I’m juggling a lot, it’s easier without the load of things I had to do pre corona but secretly hated.
7. What has been the most gratifying moment career-wise?
NC: I love to see a vision come to life. Seeing a room or house materialize just as I imagined it. And then making the art for it. And then styling and photographing it… even though I love to collaborate and will consider and value ideas from any player involved in the design process, there’s something special about being able to see the vision through end to end.
8. Where do you see SketchFortyTwo in 5 years?
NC: I would lie to have a furniture line of some sort. And eventually I want to make a book that would combine art, design, photography, food, babies and all of that into one story of life as it should be.
9. Do you have a fave room in the house you like to decorate more than others?
NC: I love to do kitchens and bathrooms. I love playing with tiles, materials, woods etc and I find that people let me be riskier with design elements. I also like to bake as much style as possible into the structure of the home… you can always add more furniture or textiles!
10. What are your top IG feeds to follow?
NC: I’m loving @historycoolkids and @naturesgnarly
@shootfilmmag @C_L_O @pierre.yovanovitch @eyeswoon and more… Every Sunday I repost my “saves” of the week and it’s become something that I love to do!
12. What is currently in your handbag?
NC: I haven’t gone out too much. Old receipts, a mask or two and a credit card.