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Nicholas Contrera, Manhattan Digest, Nasty Pig
Credit to: Nasty Pig

Sometimes in life, you meet someone in a truly unconventional way that leads to not only a great friendship but a chance to catch someone when their star is rising.  This is someone that I have found in Nicholas Contrera.  I met him a couple of months back and got to understand the passion that he has for his art work, his photography and ultimately branding a name for himself since he uprooted himself to New York City by way of Detroit merely months before meeting me.  Something that I really like and admire about Nick is he is a lot like me in getting himself authentically to a higher level without having to use people or manipulate situations to better yourself.  He simply relies on his talents, his wit, his humor, and above all his character to get himself to where he is.

In a short period of time here in New York City, he has been apart of an amazing Art Show which showcased his talents this past May and is now an official model of the ever growing & popular mens brand Nasty Pig.  That’s quite a lot of accomplishment for someone as young as him and as green as he is in a city where making it can be tough at times.  I recently sat down with one of my favorite chaps to discuss his move, his work in the art & photography world, his time with Nasty Pig and what he hopes for in the future.  Take a look.

Manhattan Digest, Nicholas Contrera
Color Photo done by Nicholas Contrera
What got you into your love for art & photography?

At age 11 I met my mentor, she is the mother of my best friend of 11 years. I found out one day that she was a photographer and as an impressionable kid I thought that was amazing that she took photos for a living.  I always had a strong artistic side – I grew up with a learning and reading disability and never at the top of my class in the academic side.  I also wasn’t into sports so I dived straight into the art world where I found that photography was the one god given gift I was naturally great at.

Did you have any teachers, mentors or icons that inspired you?

Her name is Judi Bommirito- she is my best friend of 11 years’ mother, a mentor to me, a teacher, and my own second mother.   Her fine art photography work has always inspired me even though I’m nervous to bring work to her.  Mainly because she will tear it apart. I know what she is doing is critiquing me hard because she wants me to grow into an amazing artist that I’m striving to become.

My ideals in the photography world are Richard Avedon, Mary Ellen Mark and Robert Mapplethorpe.   I’ve studied their work to understand that it’s more then just a publicly known photograph. Their style of photographing amazes me.  I practice in their form but I know I’m creating my own style with my eye.

Who right now in the art world do you think is killing it?
I would like to say I am. I’ve been working towards this dream for about 11 years now.  I have been recognized, awarded, and complimented on my work by known artists.  I’m confident in myself, but I still know I have so much more to learn and can’t wait to learn it.
Nicholas Contrera, Manhattan Digest
Black & White done by Nicholas Contrera
Describe your process for me.

Well to start off I’m a film based photographer. I still practice heavily in the art of film and alternative processing.  I title myself as a “Fine Art Photographer”.  To explain, anyone can take a photograph but in the cutthroat fine art world, you first need to understand everything that is the frame of the camera. I can’t just take a photograph because I think it’s pretty.  When I photograph I am looking for symbolism.  I have to understand what I looking at, how things are placed in my frame, why I’m keeping things in, etc.  It get as deep as why I’m I shooting Black and White and not color for my conceptual work.  When I walk into a critique I better know everything in my photograph and it comes down to – “why” did I do the things I did to produce this photograph.

Was your passion for art what inspired you to get out of the Midwest and into NYC?

Absolutely.  I originally moved here for a studio art residency, but I always knew I would end up in New York.   The moment I first visited New York over a year ago, I never felt so at home. That this was were I needed to be.  This city can chew you up and spit you out. And I’m ready for it to do so, but I will be spitting right back at it.

What’s the transition been like, both in the gay community and out?

For once in my life I was terrified of this big move. I knew no one first off.  Being away from my support back home, it was a huge leap that I made head first.   It has been the best learning experience I could go through as a artist.  It was hard at first but I got the hang of things. I adapt quite quickly.  The gay community was easy to adapt to for me as I made friends fast here.  I think people saw me as a good, loving and optimistic person which I like to think I am.

 

Nasty Pig, Nicholas Contera, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Nasty Pig

You are a Nasty Pig model (congrats). Tell me about your experience with them.

In my teen years I had zero confidence. When I was asked to model for them I was truly taken aback. I was beyond flattered when David, the CEO of the company, saw me as a fit for the brand.

Nasty Pig is known for its creative ad campaigns. Think you will ever impart your own creative edge into future ones?

After I started working in the store I soon realized that it is much more than a clothing line.  We are a family that gets to bring our creative opinion to the table.

What’s next for Nicholas Contrera?

World domination!  But before that I am in the process of finishing my degree then soon after getting my Masters in Fine Art Photography. After procuring photography for so long, I have grown to be cutthroat and hungry for success in what I am so passionate in doing.

Want to know more about Nick, and maybe hire him for an upcoming event?  Check out his official website for more information!!