Nick’s curriculum vitae reads like a romantic novel. Born into a theatrical family in London, England in 1949, he grew up in the midst of the entertainment industry. He studied at Harrow Collage of Further Education where he was a member of a teenage rock band and founded a drama society, (writing and directing three Collage Reviews). As a consultant lecturer in Make-up Techniques and Theatrical Prosthetics, he taught periodically, from 1967 to 1975, at Middlesex Polytechnic, The De Leon Drama School, The New College of Speech and Drama, Trinity Opera School, and the Drama Studio.
He started working as a movie make-up artist in 1969, but due to a savage slump in the film industry, he struggled to make a living for several years. In 1972, he focused his attention more seriously upon his painting, when he realized that the security of teaching was no compensation for the lack of self fulfillment he was experiencing. Today, his art, (a quixotic blend of nostalgia, idealism and outright fantasy), reflects the sophisticated influences of 17 years spent as a make-up artist, prosthetics designer, and director of Special Make-up and creature effects, on movies and music videos throughout the world. His big break came in 1974 when his continued association with veteran Special Make-up designerStuart Freeborn (above) lead to his involvement in the making of STAR WARS and the famed Cantina sequence. He assisted Stuart for 7 years, contributing to SUPERMAN I & II, and was a key collaborator in the creation of Yoda on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
In 1980 he and his wife Gloria wrote the screenplay INSEMINOID (aka HORROR PLANET) for Jupiter Film Productions which was made into a feature film later that year.
In 1981, having already contributed to more than 30 movies, he won an EMMYnomination for his transformation ofAnthony Hopkins, into the HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME for Columbia T.V.
From 1981-1985 he designed and directed the prosthetic, animatronics and creature effects for BRITANNIA HOSPITAL,KRULL, THE KEEP, LIFEFORCE, HIGHLANDER and DURAN DURAN‘s award winning video WILDBOYS. His work was featured in several CINEMAX and HBO specials, led to articles in PUNCH, PLAYBOY and numerous newspapers, won a place in THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS, CINEFANTASTIQUE, and made the front cover of AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER, FANTASTIC FILMS, STARFIX and FANGORIA.
At the age of 35 Nick was at the height of his movie career. He shocked his friends and colleagues when he decided to devote more time to his paintings, traded his Ferrari for a sail boat, cruised the Caribbean for almost a year and established a base on the island of Antigua. There, he set about producing artworks which reflected the serenity of the islands and drew direct comparisons between the seductive slickness of city life and the peace of mind to be found in simple living. He combined techniques as innovative as those he had developed for the movies, aiming to convey a sense of nostalgia and illusion. The resulting works display a sensitive understanding of the human condition and a dry sense of humor.
At 1987 Nick and his wife Gloria founded the ISLAND ARTS GALLERIES specializing in Caribbean art and hand crafted artifacts and established 3 galleries in Antigua including one at his home and studio in Hodges Bay. In 1989 they organized THE ISLAND ARTS QUEST the largest Caribbean art competition to be held in 35 years.
In 1990 Nick’s commissions included works of HOLLAND AMERICA‘s WINDSTAR ships and a nine foot work of the deluxe KRIZIA resort K CLUB (where Princess Di vacationed in 1996). Later in 1990, he was elected President of the ANTIGUA ART SOCIETY and served in this capacity until March 93.
In 1991 his one man exhibition at the prestigious SURF CLUB in Miami Beach led to invitations to exhibit in six other cities across the USA and resulted in another one man exhibition at THE SHOOTING GALLERY in New York City. That year he was also invited to participate in a group exhibition at THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM in Toronto, Canada.
In 1992 he took part in exhibitions in England and the MUSEUM OF MODERN ARTin the Dominican Republic, (where he also exhibited in 1994 & 1996.)
In 1993 he was honored by having work included in UNESCO’S CARIB ARTexhibition which started a 3 year world tour in 1994. His paintings and fine art reproductions have hang in hotels, banks, corporate and private collections around the world. They have been exhibited in England, Antigua, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Haiti, Canada, the USA, Germany, Switzerland, the Dominican Republic, Curacao, Anguilla, St. Kitts, Aruba, The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Holland and France
1995 Nick returned to Los Angeles, writing and directing two music videos for recording artist TOMA. As a result, in 1996 he was awarded a Bronze medal at the 29th Annual WORLDFEST HOUSTON, the world’s largest film and video festival with over 4300 entries from 38 countries.
Nick’s first Internet website www.CineSecrets.com was launched in July 1997. Although Nick considers it, “intrinsically an unfinished project”, by early 98 the BBC had dubbed it “Best of the Web – Special Effects” and by November of that year it was receiving half a million hits a week. That success quickly spawned other Internet sites and as the number of domains grew it became necessary to establish a central web hub thatYodaGuy.com. Now with over 20000 files online,
During his time in and out of the Caribbean, Nicks keen interest in sail boat racing lead to his involvement in Antigua Sailing Week from 1986 to the present. His boat Pumkin, (a 1975 C & C Trapper 500), was salvaged by Nick and friend Doug Luery after hurricane Georges in 1998. As part of the Antigua Cruising Class National Team, Pumkin won ASW’s International Team Trophy in 1999, 2000 & 2001. In 2000 Nick was elected Commodore of the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club. There he was nicknamed by members “Commodore for Life”.
Nick and Gloria expanded their Caribbean galleries to St. Maarten in 2003. The instant success of their initial intimate showcase, in picturesque Old Street, spawned an incomparable movie museum at 19 Front Street which incorporates Nick’s private collection of rare Hollywood relics and offers unique behind the scenes insights available no where else worldwide. As a result they were described by Royal Caribbean’s onboard magazine as “the most unique store in the Caribbean,” and are now recommended shopping on 15 cruise lines including Celebrity, Princess, Disney, Norwegian, Crystal, Sun, Costa, Cunard, P&O, Holland America and Carnival.
Unfortunately, pressure of work in 2004 forced him to step down.as Commodore of the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club. But he represented the club that year in St Maarten’s Heineken Regatta, winning Fun Class.
In 2007 Nick made the move to St Martin complete, closing down Island Arts in Antigua and establishing the Yoda Guy Apartments on spectacular Orient Beech which he and Gloria laughingly describe as their “pension plan”.
Nick’s first book, Words & Pictures, a record of his paintings and poetry, was released as a private printing in July 2010.
In Nov 2011 he and Gloria launched the Yoda Guy Movie Museum Foundation, (aka the Yoda Guy movie Exhibit – YGME), a non-profit corporation aimed at encouraging children (and adults) to “follow their dreams and be all they can be”. Nick explains, “when I was a kid they explained to me that I was stupid and would work in a factory. I chose to make 53 movies and paint 400 paintings and live in the Caribbean instead.
The popularity of this small Caribbean museum resulted in TripAdvisor.com naming the YGME as the most popular activity in the country 4 years in a row.
Nick was working on a proposed holographic entertainment project in 2013 when his old boss Stu Freeborn died aged 98. “I realized that 6 decades of movie laking experiences were lost when Stu passed and other mentors like Dick Smith and Ray Harryhausen were close behind. That lead me to consider combining holograms into museum settings to record the memories of renowned movie effects maestros for generations to come.”
So it was that in 2014 Nick announced his intention to attempt to raise money to launch “FXpo” – the world’s first hologram narrated movie FX traveling exhibit. Based in Germany, Nick and his volunteers organized a big SW parade in Nuremberg with the German 501st Legion for Star Wars Day (may the 4th be with you). When Cinecitta (Europe’s largest cinema complex with 22 screens and 6500 seats) told Nick that it was impossible to get the Star Wars movies to coincide with the event, Nick collaborated with Lucasfilm and Disney who arranged for 20th Century Fox to releasing the first six Star Wars movies for the May 4th weekend all across Germany.
To administer FXpo and continue Nick’s philanthropic aims in Europe, he founded The Follow Your Star Foundation, another non-profit established to inspire youngsters to overcome negativity to live extraordinary lives.
At Star Wars Celebration VIII in 2015, Lucasfilm resident Star Wars expert Pablo Hidalgo and relic restorer Tom Spinarenamed, one of Mos Eisley Cantina characters Demono DeoMaley to honor Nick Maley’s work on Star Wars and for his tireless contribution to helping the Lucasfilm Archive with details about the UK creature build. Also that year, Nick took part in three Star Wars concerts by the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra which was later named amongst the top three cultural events in PR for 2015.
Now in his sixties, Nick has no intention of retiring anytime soon. “I’m writing music again after 40 years,” Nick explains. “I have another two books to write, I’m in the process of rebuilding Yoda as a practical puppet in the hope that we can convince Lucasfilm to return to animatronics when they need Yoda for Anthology movies that take place before Yoda dies and I’ve developed a new form of entertainment that I would like to launch.”
It seems clear that Nick’s belief that you have to think big in order to achieve big has certainly paid off for him. He remains a tireless personality that continues to inspire hundreds of thousands of fans that travel to St. Maarten to meet him and Gloria each year at the recently expanded Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit.