Nickolai was born in Perm, Russia in 1991, was adopted from a Siberian orphanage by an American couple and relocated to the United States at the age of two. In 2014, he obtained his BFA in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Walko's artistic journey took an intriguing turn when he discovered an unconventional use for masking tape. Departing from its traditional purpose of masking off areas for paint application, he employed the tape to create intricate, stylized artworks with striking contrasts. This unique approach became an integral part of his early career. Concurrently, he began experimenting with copper, driven by an enduring passion for sculpture and the exploration of various artistic resources.
Anatomy, archaeology, aviation, history, and mythology serve as profound influences on Walko's artwork. Through these diverse fields, he seeks to depict forms, figures, and landscapes using non-traditional materials. Acrylic and latex paint assume vital roles in his work, providing a vibrant background or blocks of color to enhance the contrasting effect of the black masking tape. Metaphorically, the tape acts as a skin, while the precision of the X-Acto knife serves as a scalpel. As sections of tape are cut and lifted, the underlying subject matter, whether it be an artifact, a landscape, or actual anatomy, is revealed.