Wednesday, May 4, 2011


After doing a lot of Dreamy Artful Couple posts I started thinking of another great kind of coupling in art and that is the BFF, or best friend forever for those who do not have the tween lingo down.
I have such close best friends who make navigating in the art world so much easier. Where would we all be without our BFFs?
Kicking off this new segment is one of my favorite BFF teams. Anyone who knows Nicole Hand and Nancy Palmeri knows that they are amazing artists who will bring fun and laughter everywhere they go. Nicole was my printmaking teacher when I was an undergrad at Murray State University. Nancy is the printmaking teacher at University of Texas Arlington. Though their friendship is long distance that doesn't stop them from being so close.
Check out some work by the duo and read their fabulous interview. Nancy's answers will be in purple, Nicole's in blue. Both did their interviews separately so it's fun to see how close their answer are to each others.

work by Nancy Palmeri
work by Nicole Hand

1. How did you two first meet? Was it Best Friends Forever at first sight?

NP: I met Nicole at Frogman's. I was asked to come be an artist-in-residence. Nicole was taking a class next door to where I was printing. She kept coming by to see what I was doing, so we hooked up. And yes, I am sure that it was BFF at forever. I have always had a girl crush on Nicole. She is just a wonderful soul.

NH: We met at frogman’s, summer 1998. I was a grad student and Nancy was a visiting artist for the week. I had heard about Nancy and her prints and wanted to meet her. I walked through her studio space everyday, trying to get the courage to talk to her. One night after a beer or two we talked and then by the end of the week we were laughing and acting ridiculous, not much has changed.

work by Nicole Hand

2. How does your BFFness help you with your work?
NP: I talk with Nicole about all aspects of my life, including work. We joke about me wanting to have her move to TX so that we can have coffee in the morning and drinks together at night.
Since you have a long distant friendship do you find ways to give each other critiques and feedback?
Yes, all of the time, although I guess that the actual physical distance is the only thing that makes us long distance. We try to talk a few times a month, or text, or email. If I have something that I want her to look at, I just send her a magic iphone image and vice-versa. The best is when we are at conferences, we just spend hours talking about our work and dreaming up different teaching strategies. Nicole gives me great advice, both personal and professional+ we get to laugh together.

NH: Definitley, Nancy and I talk about everything, especially studio stuff. Luckily through conferences we can see what the other is working on and offer support. Nancy is always there for me when I feel unsure about what I am doing or the direction my work is taking. Even though our work looks very different there are many similar conceptual threads.

Nancy was also extremely helpful to me when I was finishing grad school and approaching the job market. Nancy is still my go to person when I am lost or feeling unsure. Nancy once gave me the best advice about being productive in the studio; she said, “work is work”. This mad
e me realize that the drawing, reading, list making is just as important as the finished piece. Nancy is always their with encouragement when I don’t feel confident about a situation.

work by Nancy Palmeri

3. You both teach at a university. Does your best friendship help in this area? Do you call each other for advice?

NH: Again, all the time. We are nerdy professors that like to talk about teaching, what works, what doesn’t, technical question, students. We are both very dedicated to teaching and like to share problems, ideas and successes we have. If I am having a bad day at work or something crazy has happened, I will call Nancy and tell her what is going on. She is always supportive and offers great advice.

NP: Yes, always. It helps me to talk with my best friend and colleague about issues that I face on a daily basis, teaching, art, personal. I have a very busy academic life, and sometimes I feel bad about not being able to make work as much as I would like. Nicole always has something great to say about how to face that reality while helping me to find ways to be in my studio.

work by Nicole Hand

4. Do you ever feel a friendly competition between the two of you?
NP: No, never. Not in the way that you might think. Obviously, we are both trying to get into the same shows, residencies, grants, fellowships, etc, so there is the competition from that. But, I do not feel envious of her accomplishments. On the contrary, I feel proud of her when she receives an award, honor, etc. I know how hard she works and what an ethical individual Nicole is.
If not with artwork then with who has the best Aveda hair products?
NP: Nicole has the best products. I am off the Aveda---it got to be like crack. I think that Nicole actually needs an Aveda intervention!

NH: I would say it in more encouragement than competition. When I hear about great things Nancy is doing or making, it inspires me to be a better artist. We also support and promote one another. If we go somewhere as a visiting artist and it is a good experience we will suggest the other one for a future visit or exhibition.

For the record, I have the best hair products; Nancy always has the best purses/messenger bags.

work by Nancy Palmeri (photo source)

work by Nicole Hand

5. What keeps your long distant best friendship forever forever? How do you make it work?

NH: We talk a lot, email and try to see each other once or more a year. We also have a really weird connection that without talking we will be reading the same book or have bought the same sweater at the gap. I don’t really believe in that stuff, but it happens so often it is a little freaky.

NP: We love each other like sisters without the fighting.

work by Nicole Hand

6. What is your dream art collaboration? Will this happen some day?
NP: We talk about this all of the time. If we win the lotto, we will by a big stretch of land (probably in Tuscany) and invite all of the people who's work we admire and who we love as people to live and work there. Maybe start and amazing art school. I believe it will happen, but we both have to learn to play lotto (which we both see as a waste of money!)

NH: We actually have a funny game we play, where we fantasize about our dream art school and who would teach with us. This has kept us entertained for years, if one of us won the lottery and could start an art school that would teach with us. This school would have an enormous printmaking area and we would have it packed full of amazing printmakers we both admire and would love to teach with. I hope it happens, but if not it is fun to dream.

Now Lets Play A Game! I asked each of the BFFs to answer questions about the other to see how well they know each other. Here are their answers:

1. If you are on the phone with each other talking for hours about life, love and boys and you are both doodling on a notepad, what is the other person doodling?
Nancy said Nicole is doodling some sort of abstract plant form or ovals/ Nicole said she is doodling wispy, graphite crosshatched organic shapes.

Nicole said Nancy would be making lists of words, marks, and geometric shapes/ Nancy said she is doodling some sort of character or text.

2. What is your best friend's guilty pleasure tv show?

Nicole says Nancy's favorite show is Adult Swim or the Sopranos/ Nancy said her favorite show is Sopranos or Mad Men.

Nancy said Nicole's favorite show is Mad Men/ Nicole says.... Mad Men!!

3. Who is your best friend's favorite printmaking artist?

Nancy says Nicole's favorite Printmaking artist is Nancy Palmeri/ Nicole says her favorite is Kiki Smith, but I'm sure she also meant Nancy Palmeri!

Nicole said Nancy's favorite printmaking artist is also Kiki Smith because "Nancy’s dog is named Kiki and we both have the same Kiki Smith print in our living rooms" but Nancy took the BFF route and said Nicole Hand!

4. If you and your BFF were famous tv/movie BFFs which ones would you be?
Nicole says Laverne and Shirley
Nancy says "Thelma and Louise without the driving over the cliff."

And for the Most Important Question.....

5. Would your BFF rather get the band Insane Clown Posse tattooed on their arms (portraits of the band, their name, everything) or have to give up their favorite printmaking process forever?

They both answer tattoo, neither willing to give up their favorite processes. And what's better than a BFF Insane Clown Posse tattoo? Maybe it will look like this:

Check out Nicole's website here. Nancy does not have a website yet but I will be sure to do a website post as soon as she gets hers up and running!
Are you part of an artistic BFF duo? Let me know and I'll do a post!

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