The Fascinating World Of Designer Kelsey Niziolek
Kelsey Niziolek is a Brooklyn-based artist and designer whose work quenches a thirst you didn't even know you have, combining punk aesthetics, rave culture and new age serenity. She has been enlisted by GQ, The New York Times, Vice and more while maintaining her DIY roots creating underground flyers, zines and putting on art shows. Her talents extend far beyond design, venturing into music and fashion. Cell Vision correspondent Bridget Bakie recently paid a visit to her creative compound to explore the fascinating world of Kelsey Niziolek.
photos by Michelle LoBianco
Kelsey Niziolek is a Brooklyn based artist, print designer and DJ. She is originally from Jackson, New Jersey, but moved to NYC 4 years ago after living in Philadelphia. We really love the world she creates through art, fashion and sound.
Her work is reminiscent of 90s rave culture and includes lots of new age imagery, and industrial objects. Her pieces consist of several individually hand drawn images, that she manipulates and layers after scanning them. The result is collages exploring themes of human mood, emotion, and the spirit breaking free from religious restriction.
She primarily works as a freelance illustrator, and has done commision art for Vice, GQ and The New York Times, to name a few.
“If I’m not always working on something, whether it’s a personal project or freelance work, I feel like my anxiety skyrockets. drawing really is such a stress reliever for me and keeps my mind grounded. I can get lost in a drawing forever and I love it.”
“I used to pull a lot of inspiration from old punk flyers, where everything was collaged and xeroxed, and shitty in the coolest way. Recently I’ve been reading these weird articles about energy healing and there’s really cool imagery for everything. I feel like a lot of tattoo artists have inspired me, especially as I’ve been learning to tattoo. That’s something that’s important for me to keep practicing for the new year.”
“I used to paint a lot on plexiglass because I loved the neon colors, since it’s different than my usually black and white drawings. Ideally I’d love to translate my drawings into one-off paintings. I recently had an art show where I made original pieces using the process of photo transferring a print, and then painting on top. I think I’ll experiment more with that in 2020 also.”
Kelsey and her roommate Lia are the founders and designers of the brand Sunday School.
“The name ‘Sunday School’ pokes a little bit of fun at religion. I went to Catholic school for 9 years and Lia went to Hebrew school for 5 years, but neither of us are religious. Sometimes people think our brand is a literal Sunday school which is sort of funny.”
“It just started off with one t-shirt and we got a pretty good response. So we started making more and more. Now we’re trying to make, not just clothes but like housewares too. We did tapestries recently and we want to do maybe ashtrays, and get into something other than just clothing. We’ve been thinking about making books as well. We have a lot of upcoming plans.”
Kelsey is also a part of the trance DJ duo Spyware, with her friend Raul, who DJs under the name Tek Nena.
“We think trance music is a great crossroad for so many things we care about in the underground scene, and really captures the nostalgic 90s rave scene. I haven’t heard a lot of people playing it in Brooklyn, and we both view it as a counter to societal norm, where it can be viewed as cheesy. We are basically rewriting the aesthetic of the genre for ourselves.”
“The music scene in New York has been super influential on me as an artist and is one of the things that makes me most happy living here. It really is a community of amazing people. So many of my friends are great musicians/DJs, and they are the reason I got into DJing in the first place.”
Spyware has played several shows around NYC this year and is planning more for 2020, so definitely catch one of their sets. You can follow their Instagram @spyware_nyc for upcoming events. Kelsey also DJs solo under the name Kelsey Niz.
Kelsey Niziolek is in the middle of forming a collective with several other artists for the coming year. The group is planning an art show in the spring that will include her work. You can follow Kelsey for updates on all her creative projects on Instagram at @kelseyniziolek.