Bad news: Holiday shopping season started last weekend.
That means fighting with crowds, blowing cash on stuff your family doesn't want, and convincing yourself that your brother totally needs a mini-fan from Target this Christmas.
Fortunately, not all holiday shopping has to be terrible.
Two friends from St. Paul have managed to turn their love of characters, carnival games, and unique artwork into a successful business venture. Nicole Snell and Coral Thacker -- collectively known as NiCoral -- have been popping up all over the Twin Cities craft circuit, with tons of one-of-a-kind gifts that are perfect for that special weirdo in your life this holiday (we mean that in the nicest way).
This week, one half of the duo sat down with City Pages to talk Batman, crafting, and scaring kids, just in time for the big shopping season.
How long have you and Coral been "NiCoral?"
We've been "officially" doing this together since early summer, probably around June. We make a really good team because I do the paintings and polymer clay stuff, and she does mostly decoupaging.
Looking at your website, it's pretty heavy on cartoons and colorful characters. Is that something you're inspired by?
Well, cartoons and comics and video games are forms of art and entertainment that have always appealed to me. I like the idea that there are no rules and no limits. I guess I'm just one of those kids that never grew out of "kid's stuff"; I just carried it through to my adulthood without looking like a complete crazy person. I think.
You've done various shows in and around the Twin Cities. How do you stand out from the crowd?
It's about creating a fun experience for people and not just setting up a booth to sell stuff. This October, for example, Coral and I wanted to create a booth at MCBA's FallCON in St. Paul where kids had more to do than just follow their parents around while they shopped or talked with artists.
I knew that kids loved being around costumed characters and getting their pictures taken with grownups in costumes, so we thought it would be neat to dress up like Batman villains and have cheap carnival games for them to play. That went over huge -- except for Coral's Joker makeup scaring some kids -- and made people really happy. That's what we want to do with our art, and that's why we do this in the first place.
I know this is probably hard to choose, but do you have a certain theme or type of art you prefer over others?
Probably my Disney paintings. I've always been a huge Disney fanatic, and sometimes I think about sitting at my grandma's kitchen table with my Crayolas when I was little, trying to draw Belle from the Beauty and the Beast VHS case. Now-a-days, I can whip her up in a second-- and make her look however I want.
So what's next for you guys? Is there any way to pick your stuff up without attending a show?
We just set up an Etsy account so that people can check us out, and we're really hoping to get out to more shows soon. We've got full-time jobs to help pay the bills, but NiCoral is our passion and we're just looking to keep it going.