Plymouth resident Nikki Packard, a long-time creative designer, quit the corporate world and reinvented herself as a mural painter.

This is part of an occasional series of short “as told to” profiles by Plymouth resident Carl Mastandrea, who describes himself as a “photographer, teacher, and storyteller.” It has been edited for clarity and length.

I grew up in Manomet and I lived in Plymouth pretty much my whole life.  I think I’ve always been creative. My whole family is creative. My dad sings and plays guitar and harmonica. My mother was a painter. I was always really good at art. It just came naturally, and it was something that I always liked.

I was the first one in our family, in my generation, to go to college. I went to art school at UMass Dartmouth. I wanted to stay in the art field when I graduated and to make a living at it. I moved out to California because I wanted to work in the music industry or be an actress and do all that fun stuff. It never panned out, but I did stay in the art field. I made my living doing freelance design in either product development or children’s artwork. For years and years, I designed giftware, and I did a lot of illustration.

I came back home in 2007 when my mom got sick, and I’ve been back ever since. In 2008, I got a job at TJX doing product development. I got to travel the world. I got to go to India, China, and Taiwan, and all these crazy places. I got to see my drawings come to life. But that life is not for an artist. It’s very corporate. I got burnt out, so I left.

Two years ago, I started muraling. It’s very weird. I started following these girls on TikTok, which is so silly, but these two young girls were artists, and they didn’t really know what to do with that. One of them ended up doing a mural for her friend for free on her friend’s fence and it turned into a business.

The mural Nikki Packard created at Rock Bottom Seafood in Manomet. Credit: (Photo by Carl Mastandrea)

I was like, “You know what? I can do that. I’ve never done it before in my life, but why not? What’s the difference between a canvas and a 40-foot storage container?” So I just started putting my name out there on Facebook. Rock Bottom Seafood called me up and asked if I wanted to paint their wall. I said sure. I went down there, and I saw the size of the wall and it was a mess. It was stucco and it was huge. But I did it.  Five murals later and here I am.

Tools of the trade for Nikki Packard. Credit: (Photo by Carl Mastandrea)

So right now, I’m definitely in my happy place. I’m doing this mural for Three Harts Farm and the Nathan Hale Veterans Activity Center founded by Chris Hart. I really do love what I do and the goal is to make this my full-time job. I’m looking for more work. I love working and collaborating with my clients and giving them something they love. I love seeing their reactions when they see the finished piece. It’s pretty cool!

I’ve always loved Plymouth. There’s something about Plymouth that I’ve never experienced anywhere else, and I have been all over the world from Bali to India. There’s a magnetic pull for me. I don’t know what that is either, but the universe keeps pulling me back here for some reason. I’m an Aquarius. I’m a water person. I’ve always been around water, no matter where I ended up, whether it was in California or here. There’s something rejuvenating about it that gives you energy and creativity and it’s inspiring.

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