The Heroine’s Journey of Nancy Niss

What is the best thing that I love about my work? I’m an artist, writer and designer in many different mediums, my income comes from being a Master Tailor. For fun I build furniture, picture frames, work with wire, paper and anything else that strikes my fancy. The wonderful mechanical challenges of pattern making apply to clothing as well as in developing furniture or any other art project, so I’m also an engineer of sorts. I would be bored doing retail clothing collections, that would be living too much in my own mind. I love the unexpected of seeing fashion from each client’s unique perspective, thus I become the hands of their imagination. Ever changing, always new…

What is my idea of perfect happiness? Learning new things, trying out all sorts of different means of creative expression is amazing. I learned to play the violin at 64, which is great fun. But the greatest happiness I’ve had is encouraging others to jump off the cliff of possibilities, to try new and unexpected things, and then to see the look of amazement and joy on someone’s face as they discover and grow their unknown talents…this is priceless to me.

What is my greatest fear? Oh, probably knowing there will never be enough time to empty all the creative ideas out of my head and bring them to life…..

What is my greatest extravagance? Having the luxury of being able to spend a good deal of time with people I love.

What is the thing that I dislike most in my work? Dislike…wow, this word doesn’t even come into play with all the different things I do.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I’ve lived life by the seat of my pants, or call it inspiration, with no particular fixed goal in mind except for following the path that has appeared before me. I have always taken great leaps of faith into the unknown. I have found that by trusting my intuition and following along this path, life itself changes me in marvelous ways. And I’ve had a really interesting and good time of it all.

What is my greatest achievement in work? Being successfully self-employed for 51 years and having the freedom to do what I want is a huge and exciting achievement to me.

Where would I most like to live? I am living exactly where I want to live, in Saint Petersburg, Florida. What an intense, dynamic and collaborative arts city this is!

What is my most treasured possession? That would definitely be my imagination and the ability to create what I imagine. This has made my life interesting and successful, it has afforded me incredible experiences, not only creatively, but intellectually and socially/culturally. I taught myself Portuguese, lived in Brasil for some years and am a professional translator and interpreter.

What is my most marked characteristic? I have been told that I stand out because of my happiness and optimism.

What is my most inspirational location in my city? All the varied art venues are inspiring to me, living within walking distance of Tampa Bay doesn’t hurt…

Who are my favorite writers and their books? Ursula Le Guin’s, “The Tombs of Atuan” was an immersion into a really different and beautiful use of language and Martín Prechtel’s, “Long Life, Honey in the Heart”. He writes with sensuous, succulent abandon and is a great storyteller.

You only die once. What music would I listen to on my last day? Bluegrass, Bolivian indigenous and Paraguayan harp musics, Bollywood, (I’d dance around to that), world music and some great Latin hits. A little slide guitar and hammer dulcimer would be good, too…

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? Emma Goode, my high school pattern making and tailoring teacher, Miss Halvorson, Purdue freshman English, who got me to seeing things in a different way, my college speech teacher who gave me a love for public speaking…which I ended up doing in 2 languages. They are my heroes and to them am I ever grateful.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? The Red Violin…

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to working on? The Third Exquisite Corpse Games here in St. Pete in November. This is an incredible gathering of artists working in collaborative teams of 3. No one knows what each other is creating until the curator puts the parts together (a head, a torso and legs). We only get to see the finished works at the public unveiling. There are teams in 3-d sculpture, photography, painting, and this year we are adding poetry. Artists come to participate from here and all over the US and now even some foreign countries. I am always invited make and wear a costume.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? I am now 67 and I love this age. I don’t want to retire from working because life just keeps getting better and more interesting. It grows and fragrantly flowers with people, creativity and opportunities. I want to be involved with people who are invested in life. There’s always something intriguing and surprising around every corner, I feel really lucky and I’m having fun being just who I am.

Where can you see my work and how can you contact me? My novel, “The Sand Gates”,  is available on Amazon and is also available in the Manatee County Public Libraries in Florida. This is metaphysical fantasy, the life and adventures of a young girl written in in the words of fantasy and magic.

My sewing and other art work is all custom and not in galleries, so I have photo albums of all the different things I do on Face Book at: Nancy Niss-Art and Design. Please feel free to message me through Face Book on this page.



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