The Designer’s Artist: Nina Helms
Posted on 25 September 2017
You would think that interviewing one of the interior design world’s most sought-after artists, whose work has been commissioned by some of the world’s top hotels (the Loews Regency in New York City to name one) and celebrity residences (Jim Carrey), has been featured in top publications (The New York Times, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Elle Décor, Veranda, Blink Art Resource just to name a few), and spent her early years working with the renowned graphic designer Milton Glaser, would be intimidating given Blink artist Nina Helm’s accolades and success, but you’d be wrong.
Nina Helms, who self-identifies as a “sculptural illustrator,” but who is, in fact, one of the leading bas-relief sculpture artists of our time, is truly a designer’s artist. The opposite of intimidating or pretentious, Nina is easy to talk to, easy to work with, and willing and ready to get down to business. Without a hint of ego, Nina sees herself not so much as an “artist” but as someone who helps interior designers realize their vision for a space. “My ultimate goal is to make people happy and serve the needs of the client. If I can do that, I know I’ve done my job well,” Nina says.
And doing a job “well” might be an understatement. With nothing more than her hands, a custom plaster mixture (which she developed in order to make her reliefs more durable and pliable), and a detailed vision provided by her clients, Nina can transform a wall into something otherworldly and magical. Her talent for capturing the subtle details and textures of the natural world is nothing less than extraordinary. Working with clients all over the world, she has transformed a variety of walls (from large public spaces to high-end boutique hotel lobbies to entryways to children’s bedroom walls) into breathtaking statement pieces that both delight and energize her clients. In addition, she also has custom-made lighting fixtures and furniture. “If a designer or client can imagine it, I try to find ways to do it,” Nina says. “I see myself first and foremost as a problem solver. My early career working as a graphic designer with Milton Glaser taught me the value of this approach to design.”
The Regency is a host and a catalyst for power and innovation. Nina captures this potential and transformative energy in the natural form of flowering branches. The sculpture appears serene and timeless; creating a visual oasis from the fast-moving world that surrounds it.
While her range of projects is impressive, so too are the works themselves. Nina still gets excited when she opens up magazines and sees the interior designers and clients she’s worked with standing in front of her pieces. When asked the impossible question: Which project was your favorite, she hesitates. “They’re all my favorite. It’s so hard to pick one. I am one of those people who is always in love with what I am doing right now,” she says. Right now, she’s working on a creating a magical world for a child’s room. “It’s so fun. The client has so many wonderful ideas for it, and I love bringing those ideas to life.”
Though thoroughly modern, Nina’s work draws inspiration from the traditional European wall relief sculptures. She first discovered her interests in bas-relief while staying at a chateau in the Loire Valley of France. She was “struck” instantly by the beauty of a plaster flower and knew instinctively what her calling as an artist would be. “I stopped, and in a split second, I saw my creativity unfolding. I knew I could take this art form and reinterpret it in a fresh way for this century,” Nina says. No matter what project, style, or look a designer is trying to achieve, old, new, and anything in between, Nina can work with clients to create the space of their dreams.
The French artist Rousseau described his frequent visits to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris as “entering into a dream”. Inspired by the wonderment of his vivid paintings of flora and fauna, Nina takes the simple lines of an apartment’s foyer and transforms them into an awe-inspiring art passage that traverses both space and imagination.
Nina has built her art career entirely on specializing distinctive, site-specific, custom commissions. Though she lives and works in the New York area, Nina travels anywhere her clients need her to be. Her career as an artist has grown largely from referrals and from designers seeing her work featured in magazines and print publications, as well as in person.
The Astor family was a New York dynasty throughout the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries, influencing trends in New York City’s society, politics, and real estate. Nina’s bas-relief piece for the newly renovated residence building is inspired by the lobby’s perfect balance of old-world elegance and contemporary cutting-edge style.
Designers, Contact for a Commission
If you’re a designer and would like to contact Nina for a commission, click here.
Artists, Have Your Artwork Featured
If you’re an artist and would like to learn more about Blink Art and our Artists, contact Chelsea Tucker Moore at Chelsea@blinkartresource.com.
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