The Orange County Register profiles this week’s artist of the week, JSerra senior and Ladera Ranch resident, Nikka Contursi.
What art form(s) do you work in? Photography
How did you get involved in photography? I started taking pictures at my parents’ Christmas parties when I was about 4 years old. The angles were pretty hilarious – mostly shots of headless guests, legs and shoes. After that, I put down the disposable camera for a while until I borrowed my mom’s Nikon N2000 in middle school, and I haven’t put it down since!
What is your favorite work of art/photograph? Who is your favorite artist/photographer? I have loved Richard Avedon’s “Dovima With Elephants” since I was about 12, and it’s still one of my favorites. Something about the photograph just always seems to draw my attention. I admire so many photographers’ work, but to name a few: Avedon, Mark “The Cobrasnake” Hunter, Hugh Lippe, Arthur Elgort and Annie Leibovitz.
Who have been your influences? Did you have a mentor in your development as an artist? If so, how did they help you? Ms. Stehney, photography instructor at JSerra, has inspired me since the day I stepped foot in her classroom during my sophomore year. She has accomplished a wide range of work during her very successful career, and stories of her travels and work inspire me to continue shooting. I would not be where I am today without her enthusiasm and constant encouragement. She treats me like a professional rather than just a teenage student. She has continued to help me grow.
What inspires you? During the creative process I can be inspired by anything, but if I am looking for inspiration, I often go to couture and street fashion, people-watching and pop culture.
Other than photography, are you involved in any other activities? If so, what are they? I am on the varsity tennis team at JSerra. I also volunteer by helping young children learn the fundamentals of tennis, and I work on my online portfolio:nikkaacontursii.tumblr.com.
What do you get out of taking pictures? I am a very visual person, so photography allows me to express my ideas without speaking. It’s also lots of fun because there are no rules and I’m able to create whatever I want. Photography also gives me a break from the real world. I can sit on my computer for hours editing photographs and never get bored. It’s something that brings me happiness.
How do the arts figure into your long-term goals? I hope to attend either Parsons in New York City or Academy of Art in San Francisco. I’d also like to spend a year studying abroad. My ultimate goal as of now is to become a fashion photographer and travel the world doing what I love.
What is the best advice you have received? Some of the best advice I have received has come from my parents. My mom and dad have been my support system since Day One, always catching me when I fall, and constantly telling me to never stop pursuing my dreams and not to let anyone get in my way. I don’t know what I would do without all of their continuous support.
Do you have any other thoughts about being a photographer that you would like to share with us? Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back in pursuing your dreams, shoot every single day and have fun doing what you love!