Nikki McClure

RECAP: sketchXchange with Nikki McClure

We had the honor of hosting Nikki McClure and guest moderator Carson Ellis at a sketchXchange featuring lighthearted conversation about the realities of being conscious artists, naturalists, parents and forces to reckoned with.

As a child Nikki loved to draw, watch ants and dress fantastically. Today she’s making a living as an artist—something that was she once thought was a fantasy. The journey into various artistic mediums and self expression began with scratch board and linocuts, but the reproduction value on copy machines drew the artist towards her signature papercuts in 1996. Now you can find various products featuring her art through Buy Olympia.

Annually Nikki produces art for a calendar, treating it more like a musical album, while her picture books contain a depth of exploration and narrative. It’s this range that helps to create balance between certain needs and productivity. 

We really loved having Nikki and can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. 

Nikki’s love of natural history paired with her science background is illustrated by thoughtful process which results in sensitive and detailed papercuts.


Nikki’s love of natural history paired with her science background is illustrated by thoughtful process which results in sensitive and detailed papercuts.

Buy Olympia is the proud publisher of various calendars, books and paper products that have become so beloved.


Buy Olympia is the proud publisher of various calendars, books and paper products that have become so beloved.

Color, when it is used, is often the mechanism of the story, helping to guide the viewer through the narrative.


Color, when it is used, is often the mechanism of the story, helping to guide the viewer through the narrative.

Many laughs were had and wise words of wisdom spoken, what an inspirational way to kick off this exciting new year of events! We look forward to seeing more new faces as our community continues to connect and support the things we care about—keep on making.


Check out the video here.
Check out more photos here.

We’re excited to offer this and other future conversations live on our Periscope channel—@wemakepdx.

Photos by Daniel Cole.

Quiet Nature—An Interview with Nikki McClure

A peregrine falcon flies by, she pauses and writes down the moment. It was the first time this season she’s seen this particular bird. This is how our conversation begins, and something I suspect happens throughout her day. You see, Nikki is a collector of moments. She captures them as inspiration to be used in her work, many of which are personal. Through these moments we get a glimpse of her story, a little piece of her life… quiet, thoughtful, surrounded by nature and and rooted in family.

It was as a child McClure discovered that she was enamored with the natural world. She recalls her first trip on a boat in the Puget Sound and how it opened her eyes to environmental education and biology. 

“All the trees, plants, insects, and birds I have grown up around. I was consuming the names and stories of my neighbors,  it became that I wanted to learn everything about this location. I only uncovered a few stories because there are so many things that live here, but that occupied me for a long time. I drew pictures while I was learning, my sketchbooks were very intricate and detailed.”

Nikki went on to receive B.S. and a B. A. Degree from Evergreen State College.  It wasn’t long after she graduated that she knew she wasn’t meant to be a scientist. She was meant to react with and capture the stories of nature in another way.

“When I was done with college I got a job at the Department of Ecology for one year. People knew I could draw so they were asking me to draw things for them. I thought if I could draw a good duck maybe I could just stop working and draw ducks, so I did.”

The last project she did at Evergreen was her first book, entitled Washington’s Wetlands (1991)— it was a series of linocuts. Since then Nikki has published 26 books and 17 calendars, as well as several journals covering topics from new babies to the planting seasons

I remember the first time I encountered one of her calendars. I was excited to see the art of papercutting being explored in such a graphic way. The use of stark black and white combined sparingly with color mixed digitally is restrained, and purposeful. It tricks the viewer and looks as if it’s all created on screen, but that is far from the truth. 

“ I need to keep my structure intact. If I was creating the art solely on the computer I wouldn't have the same choices that I have by doing things by hand with paper. I intentionally limit my use of the computer.  I cut during the day and have someone else working on the color part at night. There’s people who love the computer and I don't, I would much rather be outside.”

Nikki McClure of Olympia, Washington is known for her painstakingly intricate and beautiful paper cuts. Armed with an X-acto knife, she cuts out her images from a single sheet of paper and creates a bold language that translates the complex poetry of motherhood, nature, and activism into a simple and endearing picture.


We are excited to host Nikki in and get up-close with her art for sketchXchange on Friday, February 5th. She’ll be sharing her process she uses to create, as well as some of her finished pieces. Special guest Carson Ellis will also join us as the moderator.

The studio. Photo's courtesy of Nikki