When we first approached our VIGYL collaboration with Rainbow Railroad we knew we needed to use the opportunity to engage with the queer community and promote local queer talent. Enter Nicko Cecchini, a Toronto based multi-disciplinary artist with a unique style and affinity for the very beach that inspired our candle: Hanlan’s Point. Together, we envisioned creating a piece of art that captured the love, diversity and celebration of friendship that makes the Toronto beach so iconic for the lgbtq+ community.
In this interview, Nicko walks us through the process that got us our beloved Hanlan’s candle, and we couldn’t be happier with the end result!
Tell us how you got started painting, and how you’ve crafted your signature painting style?
I’ve been drawing and painting all my life. I started when I was a kid by entering drawing competitions and funnily I ended up winning a lot of them. I think it was the proper motivation to continue working at it into my adulthood. However, I got most serious about it in my early 20’s when I started believing it could be a viable career (that and I’m not good at anything else). In terms of style, that’s a journey I am perpetually on. I’m always drawing from other artists that I admire and feel like I’m just starting to shape a signature Nicko Cecchini style as a result of combining all those influences.
Where do you pull inspiration from in your artwork?
I pull inspiration from everything around me. I’ve learned that I pick fragments of the world around me and amalgamate what I see into my work. Now that I live in Toronto and am surrounded by queer people my work has naturally shifted in that direction.
What candle are you currently burning and why?
Currently, I am burning a Wood smelling candle that reminds me of being around the campfire at my cottage. You can take the boy out of the north but you can’t take the north out of the boy.
A scent or smell you can’t live without?
My boyfriend’s scent.
What does Hanlans smell like to you?
The smell of sunscreen. God I love that smell. Oh and the smell of warmed Whiteclaws.
Do you have a favourite memory of being at Hanlan’s Point beach?
Oh boy, I have a lot of memories. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad time at Hanlan’s but one memory that stands out in particular is from summer 2020 when we were finishing a long day and walking to the Ward’s ferry but along the way you could see the full moon hovering just above the water and I swear the blue of the sky was the most beautiful hue I have ever seen.
What intrigued you to collab with VIGYL on the Rainbow Railroad project?
A multitude of factors enticed me to work with VIGYL but the collaboration on this Hanlan’s candle felt like a natural merger of our aesthetics and ideals. When I found out that part of the proceeds would be going to Rainbow Railroad, an organization that helps LGBTQI+ people escape state-sponsored violence, how could I possibly refuse.
The scene you’ve created for the packaging artwork is so emotive, what inspired you and did you have a goal in mind for the feeling you wanted to capture ?
When designing the artwork I wanted a combination of playfulness and mystery. I looked at works by Paul Cadmus and especially the works of Canadian painter Alex Colville whose work always denoted a sense of those qualities. I’ve yet to come even remotely close to the mastery of those great artists but I’m so thankful VIGYL permitted me to explore that side of my creativity.
What impact do you hope this candle collaboration has on the queer community in Toronto?
I hope the candle is successful and permits other queer artists to collaborate on future iterations and raises more money for people fleeing violence simply for being who they are abroad.
What’s next for Nicko Cecchini?
There will be more projects, collaborations and paintings; however, my main goal is to hone in on what makes my work quintessentially mine. It takes years and practice to focus in on a style and I hope I’m granted the time and place to continue exploring what makes me and what makes my work mine.
Where can people reach you for future collabs and to follow your artistic journey?
I’m always open to collaborations and inquiries. I can be reached at my instagram @nickocecchini or my official website www.nickocecchini.com
VIGYL X Rainbow Railroad collection is now live featuring the Hanlan’s 10oz Candle and SUPPORT LOCAL BEACHES graphic tee! 5$ from the sale of every candle goes directly to Rainbow Railroad in support of their mission to help LGBTQI+ people escape state-sponsored violence.
Freedom and Equality and suncreen for all!
For more information on Rainbow Railroad visit https://www.rainbowrailroad.org/