About two years ago I was approached by Jason to make some art on the 37signals office walls. Around that time I was also beginning to delve into the notion of cityscapes. The first wall I did was an extension of an idea I doodled on a pizza box with a Sharpie marker.
In the time since I have been back to update the blackboards at the office several times and I have explored the cityscape idea further on my own. I have drawn and painted imaginary cities as cross-sections, from above, from every direction at the same time, quick and dirty, slow and precise, cloudy, vacant, abstracted, cartoonized, covered in streets that are like noodles, blanketed in billboards, brightly colored, monochromatic, big, small, and on and on. Each city is a new discovery to explore from whichever vantage I choose, and I’ve only just begun.
One of the things I love about being a “fine” artist is the freedom. When I’m starting a new painting or drawing, I am free to push the idea wherever it takes me. The onus is on me to take the ideas further, and venture out of my comfort zone. There have been so many times that I’ve gotten halfway done with a piece and thought to myself that this particular piece was a failure and amounted to nothing more than a bunch of wasted time and supplies, but then somehow, as if by magic, that work turns a corner and becomes my new all-time favorite. This transformation amazes me every time and it bolsters my often fragile confidence.
I have been an artist for a long time and I have gone through many phases. For years I exclusively did large abstract oil paintings, and there were times when I would draw nothing but cartoons. These past lives would seem to have very little to do with my current work, but the lessons learned from past experiences are not wasted. Instead, the skills and knowledge gained from being an abstract expressionist and in-class doodler will inform a new drawing. These are the tools I can use to build a brand new city, one that I never could have imagined before my hand began making the marks.
Prints/merch of Nate’s work are available here.