Once in a blue moon you come across an artist whose back catalogue of work hits you so hard that it makes you a little dizzy. If Nathaniel’s work was personified into a group of people, what a weird bunch they would be – a shy kid kid kicking pebbles about, a woman falling in love with a boat, an old couple being blown out of canons, groups of overly-tall men huddled around a stray dog.
The books, prints, paintings, drawings and ‘fake books’ – all nothing short of magical – are created in a studio in his basement at home in Indianapolis, but he admits he usually ends up “spreading out onto the dining room table and into the back yard.’”
He’s got a lot of particularly dedicated fans, not just of his beautifully sincere, poetic prints and paintings, but also of Birds of America, his musical pseudonym, under which he plays some hazy, nature-inspired music that anyone who is a fan of his artwork is sure to enjoy.
Nathaniel and two other artist friends (Kyle Field and Alia Shawkat) are currently on a strange voyage through France in the lead up to Greetings, a Paris show curated by photographer Danielle Rubi, and we managed to catch up with him as he prepares for the show to ask him a few questions…
If you could share your studio with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Probably my uncle, because he used to draw and he would probably keep me laughing. I would probably be too distracted sharing a space with another artist and i wouldn’t get anything done.
You make zines, murals, paintings, objects, prints – why do you choose to use so many media?
It’s all kind of the same thing to me now, it’s all drawing-based. Some things just look better as big prints, and of course some things were meant to be part of a book. But I’d like to do more sculptures and things, maybe learn how to throw a pot. If I really like something I see, I’ll want to make one too.
If you could paint a mural on any building in the world, which one would you pick?
Maybe on the side of a building in the middle of nowhere; a wall in the middle of a field somewhere.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be an artist of some sort?
Make things that you want to see, learn about yourself and the world, make a lot of friends, put on your own shows, make your friends laugh, and try really hard not to drive yourself too nuts or be too hard on yourself. Try to be a good person and do what you feel like it is you should be doing.