Coco Nuco is a visual artist who creates clothing dyed by hand from locally foraged plants. Coco gathers the plants, makes the dyes, dyes the fabrics, and then sews the fabrics into exquisite clothes that are “filled with ingredients that love you back.” Her business is SOMOS and her passion is creating beauty through clothing, movement, and photography.
What time do you get up? Between 3 and 5 in the morning, but just for an hour or two, then I usually go back to sleep until 8 or 9.
What is your morning routine? In the dark hours (from 3 to 5) I typically wander over to the living room to paint, draw, write about the dream I was immersed in, or just lie on the ground and stare at the ceiling. Once 8 rolls around I usually brew a hot cup of something, read a bit (lately it’s been Child’s Play by Allan Kaprow or The Essential Rumi), and go through a movement meditation..
What, if any, is your daily routine? There are several long layers of my work so the routine shifts week to week depending on what step of the process I am in. Some weeks I sketch, design patterns, and sew all day. Other weeks I scavenge for color in nature and then dye fabric from 10am to 8pm. And sometimes I spend the weeks collaborating with others and finding a way to record that process.
I try to get into the studio by 9:30 or 10 in the morning. Usually I answer emails first and then get right into the creative work. I take short, yet frequent, breaks to step outside, stretch, wiggle around, snack, and nap. When I find a good stopping point, possibly around 8pm to 10pm, I make a to do list for the next day.
“The collections I make don’t necessarily come down to finishing one garment and being happy with that. That’s not really the end for me. The way I see it is more of a dance with clothing. Giving the garments a place to live.”
Do you have a dedicated space for your creative work? Yes!
What are some of your favorite items/qualities about your work space? It’s a home studio. There’s a lot that I love about it but there are also challenges to creating in the space that I live in.
I have a dye studio in the detached garage just a few steps away from the house which allows for stains, scents, incantations, and all sorts of messes. This space provides a sense of creating outdoors because I leave all the doors and windows open. It’s very comforting. Being in there makes me feel like a mad scientist – which is a bonus.
There is another portion of my studio that is inside the house right across from my bedroom. It’s filled with fabrics, sketches, mood boards, clothing racks, and such. Part of the reason I love working in this space is because the sunlight reaches the room for a majority of the day, making it the brightest and warmest space in the house (I love the heat)!
Do you wait for inspiration or start regardless? Inspiration is everywhere so I start regardless. Although I do have moments of feeling “stuck,” in those times I tend to flip through old sketchbooks and journals, or immerse myself in a different medium for a short while. Something will spark back up again.
Why did you choose the art of dyeing and making clothes? I cannot seem to stay away from fiber, color, and movement. I also have a strong desire to create and share methods, within sustainable apparel, that are less harmful to ourselves and the environment.
What about it lights you up? The infinite ways in which fiber, color, and movement can interact and develop a language of their own. It makes me so happy to take the rich colors I find in nature and imbue them into functional pieces we use everyday. The most exciting part is creating a space or performance where these garments and textiles can exist, ranging from a photographic collection to a video of dance and movement.
Where do you get your ideas? In dreams, in history, in nature, and through collaborations.
What do you hope to say with your art? There are a lot of healing properties in nature that can come from color, scent, patterns, or rhythms.
Best advice ever received? “Don’t be great at something you don’t want to do.”
Biggest lesson learned so far? Do one thing at a time.
People have become much more careful about what they ingest and put inside their bodies. I think people should also be aware of and notice the things that they put on their skin. It is one of the most absorbent organs we have.
“It’s really important to me to share methods that are less harmful to our planet and to ourselves and to share them in ways that help us become better consumers. ”
What’s your creative superpower? Seeing colors in someone’s voice, a dance, a song… They’re everywhere. Could we call it the eye of a colorist?
How do you maintain your creative energy?By feeding other creative needs like dancing, photographing, drawing, cooking, and such.
How do you stay focused in a world of the internet, social media, and other distractions? The time I spend on the computer and other gadgets are most often used for work and research. That’s more than enough media for me.
What books do you turn to for inspiration and guidance?
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Maya Angelou poetry, Intuitive Herbalism by Nathaniel Hughes & Fiona Owen, Biophilia by Edward O. Wilson, Mary Oliver poetry, Art as Life by Allan Kaprow. The list could go on and on…
At what point are you done for the day? When I become unproductive due to physical or mental exhaustion.
Do you have any end-of-the day rituals? They range depending on the mood and energy. Going for a walk or to a yoga class, or simply taking a bath.
What time do you go to sleep? Between 10pm and 1am.
Five interesting facts about you? 1. I speak to dogs in Spanish, and usually don’t notice it. (It’s my first language). 2. I’ve never lived anywhere longer than 2 years. I’ve lived in 10 different states, and four different countries. 3. I did not go to school for fashion or fiber art. It’s a craft I picked up alongside my grandmother and mother. 4. My right iris turns green sometimes. 5. I I build a fort almost each month to spend a couple days in it, filling it with flowers, reading, sleeping, and simply be.
“I really do love sharing things with the world and creating things that help each one of us feel surrounded by beauty.”