Nike Schroeder


Artist Nike Schroeder’s stunning textile art exemplifies the brilliant diversity of color and the inventive nature of the abstract.  Schroeder uses loose ends of thread to create evocative embroidered illustrations and more abstract sculptural work.  For Schroeder, the threads lend her canvases a particular materiality and naïvete as her art seeks a balance between concrete and ephemeral elements.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Schroeder has always had a creative spirit. As a child, she experimented with every medium possible. In her teenage years, she narrowed her preferences down to sculpting and painting, ultimately earning a B.A. in Art Pedagogy / Art Therapy in Ottersberg, Germany. Nonetheless, despite her degree, Schroeder now prefers to work with all sorts of fibers — a medium in which she is self-taught.  Nike Schroeder has had several solo and group exhibitions all over the world.  She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

nike schroeder artist
Nike Schroeder’s studio.

Mood of Living Q & A

Mood of Living: What inspired you to become a textile artist?
Nike Schroeder: It just kind of happened. I fell in love with the materiality of it. I first started to use the stitches as lines, resembling the line of a pen in a drawing. I really enjoyed how it added a naïve quality to the work, because of it being so imprecise and the loose ends seeming to be an accidental extension of the line. The work gains something almost childish. I did that for years and really enjoyed it. Then there was a shift towards abstract work and a fascination for the mathematics of it, how to create a perfect gradient and the fact that most of the actual painting actually happens OFF the canvas.

nike schroeder embroidery

MoL: You use thread to create embroidered illustrations and abstract work. Where and how did you learn your craft?
NS: It feels like I have been going to art school since I could walk. I laid hands on any medium possible and narrowed it down to sculpting and painting in my teenage years. While I still lived in Germany, I received a B.A. in Art Pedagogy / Art Therapy — and that is when I first sat down at a sewing machine. So my background is in the Fine Arts rather than Crafting, Tailoring, or Fashion, but learning my specific technique took years to specialize to the degree I use it today. And all of that is self-taught with a lot of trial and error.

nike schroeder art

MoL: How would you describe your artwork and creative process?
NS: Each body of work has a very different process. My embroidered illustrations are inspired by an image. Usually it was photographs that I took just living my life and thus creating snapshots of rather uneventful moments. If an image struck me in any kind of way, I selected it as the original to work from. Other series like the “Fundamental Reports” are based on 1920-1940s photographs I collected in thrift shops in Germany. The abstract works are solely composed of color and pattern. They consist of an architectural grid and a color gradient. The work is very repetitive and takes a lot of patience and persistence. All in all this is a far more calculated process. I felt that the reduction of simply engaging in color, pattern, repetition, and composition allows a transport into a more contemporary context.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the most important part of my work and I have learned to celebrate every bit of it.”

MoL: Do you use a sketchbook?
NS: My current sketchbook functions more like a book of reference.

nike shroeder information

MoL: When and how did you start doing installations?
NS: Working with the space the art is going in has always been really fascinating to me, because you can bounce off of the architecture you are maneuvering in, incorporate what you like and outmaneuver what feels disturbing to the piece. I started during my years as a student. There was all this unused space, which just had to be utilized.

MoL: Where do you look for inspiration?
NS: Really anywhere. When it happens it just hits you, and you know you just got a brilliant idea. Even if that might not be the case, at least it keeps you going.

MoL: How has your work changed over the years?
NS: I moved from more figurative to absolute abstract, but in my current show at Walter Maciel Gallery, I went back to painting and sculpting, incorporating that into my stitched work. It feels like those different mediums are becoming better friends, so I guess that makes me a mixed media artist now…

nike schroeder drawings
From left to right: Fragments 7, 2015 / Convex Concave 13, 2013

MoL: Your favorite quote is?
NS: Wat mutt dat mutt. [Translation: What must be, must be.]

MoL: Who are the influential figures in your life?
NS: My partner, family, and friends.

MoL: Who are your current favorite artists?
NS: Always love Tara Donovan and Simon Evans. But there are so many, and it constantly changes.

nike schroeder artist

MoL: What period of art do you most admire?
NS: I would have to say the 60s and 70s. There was such courage to experiment during that time, and I love that people just went for it.

MoL: When was the moment you realized you could really do this?
NS: Hm, I am not sure I [have] yet.

MoL: What advice can you give anyone that is interested in becoming an artist?
NS: Just keep at it! Keep doing it, and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the most important part of my work, and I learned to celebrate every bit of it.

MoL: We find that people who make beautiful things are more likely to lead an artistic lifestyle. Do you spend much time creating a beautiful home? Do you entertain? Do you cook?
NS: Making a house a home is such a big part of my life. Thrifting is where I can really relax and get my mind off of things. We love to entertain and I love to cook, but I don’t really follow recipes. I do make a lot of Japanese tapas-like dishes, and my current favorite one is steamed slices of pumpkin drizzled in sesame seeds, ponzu sauce, honey, and a hint of Japanese mayonnaise. So yummy!


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All photos courtesy of the artist, Anja Schaefer, and Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles