Nikolai was born in Moscow and studied art at Moscow Academy’s Art Luceum. He was inspired by an exhibition of magical realism by Tomek Setowski and Boris Indrikor as a teenager and began creating his own fantastic visions. While some surrealist painters tended to the grotesque, Nikolai wanted to create magnificent other-worldly images that inspired and uplifted the viewer. His technique involves an initial highly detailed pencil drawing directly on the canvas, followed by carefully applied oil brushwork. He works from nature photography for the butterflies and landscapes, and from his own imagination for the faces and figures.