ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Nicole Johnson of Mealy Monster Land

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A few years ago, while looking for Halloween-themed images on Google, I came across a picture that featured three little creatures holding candy corn. I thought they were adorable and was wondering what their source was. There was nothing with the picture that gave any indication to what the figures were so I posted the image multiple times on Facebook, hoping someone would recognize them.

Finally, in 2018, someone did recognize them and said that they were Mealy Monsters (better known as Infestation Monsters by the artist). I immediately did a search and sure enough, there they were, on a website called Mealy Monster Land (see website HERE). I immediately went to the website’s store but everything on there was sold out. I found myself checking the store pretty regularly until finally, in October of 2018, I was able to purchase one of the Infestation Monsters holding candy corn.

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One of my favorite aspects of artist Nicole Johnson’s figurines is that they are all one-of-a-kind. She sculpts each one individually and molds are never used. This is one of the many things that gives these creations their charm; you are owning an original piece of artwork that will never be duplicated.

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The hardest thing is timing it so that when new creations are offered, they don’t sell out before I get a chance to buy any myself. These sell out every time and sell out fast. I now am a part of Nicole’s Mealy Monster Land Facebook page as well, where she posts when new items are available. Hopefully this will increase the odds of me actually getting more!

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Nicole was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to sit down with me and answer some questions about herself and her Mealy Monsters!

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David: What is your artistic background?

Nicole: For as long as I can remember I have been creating. School was not my favorite, but I had wonderful art teachers who made it tolerable. In college, I was a fine arts major with a focus on printmaking. College did not really work out for me, but I did get to create some fun etchings.

David: How long have you been creating Mealy Monsters?

Nicole: Going on 11 years. I started creating the Mealy Monsters in 2008. I wanted to make something that was everything I loved. My art was always dark but seems as I got older I got a sense of humor and mixed it in and out came Mealy Monsters.

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David: Where did the name come from?

Nicole: It is actually the name my husband’s mother use to call him when he was a child. I have no idea why it ended up being the name of my creatures, I just thought it was funny at the time.

David: Where do you find your inspiration for so many types of creatures?

Nicole: Everywhere. As an example, Someone could say something and it sparks an image and then my mind turns it into a story, and the story turns into a character and it just goes from there. Sometimes I just start out with no idea and just see what happens. I also tend to be inspired by Halloween, creepy stories, classic monsters, and just life.

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David: What is your favorite medium to use?

Nicole: Currently I am a polymer clay artist, and that is what I am known for. I have recently gotten back into drawing and watercolors. It is fun to mix it up and I plan to offer more original drawings in the future.

David: The eyes really give your creations so much character? Are they made of something different? If yes, please explain.

Nicole: Each eye is hand sculpted and painted and they are indeed made of polymer clay. When I started out I wanted to have something that would tie my work back to me. By giving them all the “gross” eyes, I feel like it keeps them all in the Mealy Monster Universe no matter what it is I have made.

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David: Approximately how long does it take to make each one?

Nicole: I tend to work in stages. A day or two of sculpting, then two days of painting. So I guess you could say, I have no idea. When I am in my busy season I work a lot of 12 hour days. It is very time-consuming.

David: Obviously you sculpt, is there any other kind of artwork you do?

Nicole: I also paint, draw, and collage.

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David: Is this a full-time job for you or do you have a day job as well?

Nicole: This is my full-time job. I am very grateful to be able to be a full time artist.

David: One of the problems I have encountered is that whenever you offer new pieces, they sell out so quickly that I miss out! What is the best way for someone to keep informed when new pieces become available?

Nicole: Oh no, I am so sorry. I try so hard to let everyone know when I update my online shop and feel horrible when someone who really wanted a certain piece miss it. I always post on my Instagram and Facebook Fanpage when new critters become available. You can also sign up for my newsletter for alerts on shop updates or upcoming shows. If you live locally the best way to get maxim choice of monsters is to attend a show. Starting in the spring I participate in art shows, comic cons and festivals in western New York. I also travel to Michigan in the fall for a Halloween Art Show.

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David: You create a wide variety of characters, often to coincide with upcoming holidays. Do you have a favorite style over the others? If so, why is that?

Nicole: I like whatever is new to be honest. The new creature or design becomes my favorite to make until some other new critter takes its place. So it is always changing.

David: In addition to Mealy Monster Land, what else are you working on?

Nicole: I am a huge horror movie fan. My husband, not so much. In order to force my horror movie love on him I started a podcast with him. The Horrified Chicken podcast. We watch a movie together and discuss, him being the “chicken”. We are going into our third year and I just don’t understand, but he still really does not like horror movies, but we have a great time.

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David: What can fans of your work have to look forward to in the future?

Nicole: Hopefully more and more and more monsters! I have many new creatures in mind for 2019 and look forward to sharing them all with you. Thanks so much!

I really want to thank Nicole for being a part of this blog! Her creations are amazing and you will not be disappointed when you get your first Mealy Monster (in fact, I bet after you get your first, you will quickly be trying to get more)! Visit her website HERE for everything you need to know. Her main shop is here as well as links to where else you can find and follow her online!

~David Albaugh

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