Brian Nickila was born on a rainy day to an out-of-work cobbler and an elderly school marm. With scarcely enough food to feed themselves and Brian's twelve older siblings, the couple rightfully decided to send the young child downriver in a basket made of birch. For many days, Brian would float past villages and farms witnessing such wonderful things. He drank from the stream and gummed the bark of his basket. But he soon longed for something more–companions, sustenance.
Fortunately, his infant cries caught the attention of a nearby flock of sheep that would form a very strong chain from tail to muzzle, fighting against the current of the stream, to rescue the young Brian from boredom and eventual starvation. Pulling him ashore, they fed him on grass and dried him with their wooly coats. He had not felt so loved since the day his mother laid him gently in that birch basket several months prior.
The sheep would raise the young boy for many years, protecting him from local predators and the awful Farmer Daniel T. Slitbauer. The nights were long and cold, but he would be kept warm by the flock. The sheep family treated Brian like one of their own. But as he grew older he began to realize he wasn't like the others. And Farmer Dan was beginning to have his doubts as well.
By his mid twenties, Brian had fought his way to the top of the flock. He had become a leader, an elder. The sheep trusted him and even tried to emulate his cool ways. The protected had become the protector. But he could protect them no longer. One day, Farmer Dan became insanely jealous of the way the sheep looked up to Brian. They were no longer following him as they once did. In a fit of rage, Farmer Dan turned every last one of those sheep into grass fed mutton.
Brian narrowly escaped before it was his turn in the barn, thus cheating death for a second time in his life. He escaped to a place called Wisconsin (often pronounced WESS-con-sin), where he wrapped himself in clothes and became a student of the fine arts at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. He learned a great number of things from a great number of people. He learned to draw and paint and write about himself in the third person. He also learned to take photographs like the one seen above. (He took that one in his bathroom–with a telephone!) He would go on to build puppets and stages and make them move. He taught himself how to animate using drawings on paper and the computer and photographs of his puppets. Both digital and old-fashioned manual labor were used to create his work.
After graduating from the University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2006, Brian and his wife, Sarah, packed up a large truck with a lot of furniture (and many things they probably didn't need, in hindsight) and moved out to Las Vegas, Nevada. They would live there for nine months at which point they would have a child. They then moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota (taking their infant son with them) to be near family. Finally, the family settled in St. Paul, Minnesota where they then had yet another child.
Brian Nickila now lives and works in St. Paul on his animation, illustration and very fertile six-hundred square foot potato farm, with his wife and two sons.