Tett Rentals Interview: Nick Allinson

Tett Rentals Q & A Interview: Nick Allinson


Please tell me about yourself and the type of artwork that you create?

I’m Nick Allinson, a Kingston local! I make wooden charcuterie boards, among other things, and I teach classes at the Tett Centre.


I grew up here in Kingston, in the west end, where I went to Welborne Ave Public School - Go Wildcats Go! - and Frontenac Secondary School - Go Falcons! My parents are not artists, but I don’t consider myself much of an artist, either. I’m more of a practical maker! They fell under that category for sure. My dad always had something on the go, whether it was a new biz idea or a creative dinner. My Mom was very results driven and it showed. Our house was always super clean, and she kept us busy all the time. I learned about fixing things and to think creatively from my stepdad for sure, starting with Lego and then moving into model making and boat maintenance. 


How did your upbringing inform your artmaking?

When I say my mom kept us busy, I don’t mean she set us up with crafts and toys. She told us to go make ourselves busy! I think that’s a huge reason why I’m creative because I had to be when I was little. I used to make models out of all sorts of recycling, and I got creative with Lego. I always used to modify or enhance toys that we had to make them better. I learned how to fix stuff by taking things apart like my bikes or RC car, so I understood quickly how things worked. 


What is your earliest memory of creating artwork?

Love this one: I used to make Wolfe Island Ferries out of egg cartons. My dad’s side of the family was from Wolfe Island so we spent lots of time there, and I loved the ferry of course. I would cut the lid off the carton, snip the ends so it would fold like the ramps, and then cut out the egg cups and colour them as individual cars. I remember doing this when I was little. It really speaks to that forced creativity - I took some garbage and made something I was familiar with out of it! 


Are you a self-taught artist or did you study art in school or by working with an artist?

I’ve always been into art. It was always my favourite subject in school. Teachers often asked me to paint large murals – In Grade 1, I made the backdrop to our big classroom farm scene and in Grade 5, I painted the Wildcats mascot on the gym wall and in Grade 8, I painted a big sailboat on the wall. In high school, I took art each year and then after grade 12, I did two focus programs: Technical Illustration at Bayridge Secondary and Creative Arts at Queen Elizabeth Collegiate and Vocational Institute. I worked with local artists a bit and then went to the Ontario College of Art & Design for Sculpture and installation. I started in drawing and painting and then switched to sculpture and installation. 


Who are your favourite artists?

Richard Serra and Stewart Jones - two whites males, I know - but I love what they make. I don’t follow art very closely, so I don’t have much insight into what else is going on. Honestly, a good contractor, landscaper or skilled trades worker is as much of an artist to me as an “Artist”. 


Please describe your personal artwork.

I like stuff that works, so I tend to make things that have a practical function. I’m really into Tiny Libraries, Love my Charcuterie Board. I’m also driven by a need to make things FOR someone, so I don’t make very much just for the sake of making although sometimes it just happens. 


Did you always work in this particular art medium?

I think a lot of people think of me as a woodworker - but I’m not really. I mostly work with wood, but I don’t limit myself to that medium. The type of work I do is manageable with the workshop I have so I think that’s why I tend to stick with it! 


Please describe your charcuterie board workshops.

My workshops are designed for people with no woodworking experience! 


Kids and adults alike can successfully complete a board in one of my classes. I bring blank slate boards, about 16” long and then you take it from there in terms of design. We sand the wood, shape it to your design and then put a super simple finish on so that it’s food safe and ready to go - no drying! 


At the end of the workshop, everyone goes home with a completely unique, made-by-you charcuterie board that you can use right away. Keep it, gift it, or hang it on the wall! 


As an arts instructor, what is it like to teach classes in the Activity Room at the Tett Centre?

Fantastic - affordable, well set up and so fun! The Tett does so much to promote your classes for you to their existing list of arts-interested followers. My monthly board classes were SOLD OUT for the first year and a half. It was amazing! Thank you SO MUCH to the team at the Tett - Susanna, Danielle and Nadine - and especially to the cleaning staff - I’m sorry my classes are so dusty!


How can readers/subscribers find out more about you? (website, social media?)

Follow me on instagram - @NickAllinsonCreative
Take a look at my Website - www.nickallinson.ca

Checkout upcoming classes on Eventbrite - search for Nick Allinson. 


Thank you, Nick!


Are you interested in teaching an art making workshop in the Activity Room? If so, please visit our website at https://www.tettcentre.org/rentals or contact the Tett Rentals Coordinator, Susanna Gordon at rentals@tettcentre.org.