behind the brush with Nathan Brown

Welcome to Behind the Brush, where we offer a peek behind the curtain through the voice of talented artists within our community. This week, we’re chatting with Nathan Brown, an impressive illustrator, graphic designer, and muralist who often blends environments and natural landscapes throughout his artwork.

A lot of your work seems to blend unique environments that are symbolic of your upbringing, like rolling hills or a skatepark. What places or landscapes are you pulling from when bringing these creations to life?

Alot of my work pulls from my travels. I tend to see architecture, landscapes and environments a bit differently being a skateboarder, For example, a ledge, curb or an embankment can bring hours of joy and I love seeing the potential in spaces that I paint in the same way. 

How has nature and natural environments shaped your journey as an artist?

Nature is forever inspiring as it has an endless palette of colors, shapes and is constantly evolving. I love seeing naturally formed landscapes, like in Moab, there are alot of spots that resemble skateparks and futuristic buildings. When I was younger, I wanted to be an ecologist, just so I could be closer to nature and study all how the world of nature works. 

Where do you pull inspiration from? Are there specific hobbies or pastimes that you feel help keep you balanced as an artist?

Skateboarding has been there for me most of my life, it connected me with a lot of artists and it’s actually how I fell into doing graffiti when I was younger. If I have some downtime or even a down moment, where I’m feeling uninspired or have writer’s block, I can always rely on skateboarding to pull me out of that mode. I also love just taking a day hike or a day trip for a good reset. 

You’ve been painting and creating for more than 2 decades. What’s been your biggest evolution as a painter and artist; how have you maintained the joy and fun that you first felt when discovering comics as a child? 

I think because it all started with doing graffiti when I was younger, I tend to look back at all of those experiences and all the artists and people I met through that time. I feel it’s important to keep an aspect of a young imagination and wonderment. 

How important has networking and community-building been when it comes to landing client-facing projects?

My entire business and past work mainly has to do with all the people I met throughout my life, building with them and realizing that my reputation and work ethic is really all I have. I always ask when I get an inquiry, how they found me and most of the time, they find me through my portfolio site form a google search which is great because I don’t have to fully rely on social media to get my work out there to the world. It’s also always a good thing to show face at events, gallery shows and industry things, you never know who you’re going to meet!

What do you hope people take away from when viewing your art? Are you consistently trying to convey specific messages or feelings, or does it frequently change depending on the artwork and project? 

I hope that it makes people smile, and that they get lost in the shapes for a minute and take a slight reality break, maybe even help them think about things differently. A lot of my work doesn’t have specific messages or an underlying story and I would definitely say it changes specifically to each space and environment. I kind of let the wall tell me what to do theoretically, haha. 

We loved your recent piece for Tanger Outlets. You added such beautiful color and introduced a new, positive vibrancy to the space. What inspired this specific piece, and how did you feel about it when leaving Nashville? 

Thank you so much, it was really great to create a piece in the neighborhood I grew up in and get to work around so many amazing artists was a plus!

My piece at Tanger was inspired by a mix of growing up in the area, seeing it grow, along with the rolling hills surrounding the area mixed with a cross section of a blooming flower referring to the growth of the area. 

What was your biggest takeaway from this past year? 

I was able to paint in so many cities that either I had never heard of or visited before this year. It’s one of my favorite things about what I do for a living, meeting new people, seeing how different places build their creative communities and learning more about what makes each place unique. I also got to dive into building a product line this year with a brand and the experience of that was really exciting. Learning more about working and designing with textiles opened up a whole new world of ideas for me. 

What’s next for Nathan Brown? Are there any new mediums, platforms or types of projects you’re hoping to secure for 2024?

I really want to explore sculpture and more physical mediums this year, like layering wood and metal in my designs, playing with light, textiles and working on collaborations with other artists on the walls.

Tell the people where they can follow you and keep up with your journey!

My portfolio site has everything I’ve done over the year on there: https://www.19ss.net

And you can always follow my work on insta: https://www.instagram.com/nathanbrown77/

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