FOOTNOTES FROM THE COSMIC ARENA
“Everything starts from the act of drawing, even if it’s drawing letters and words rather than figures or objects. I think I have an idea of how something will be done the minute I make the sketch. I try not to think about it too much and just do. The flyers started out as little jokes to myself, but the more that I made the more interested I got in exploring some subtleties in the language and making them sad, funny, and reflective at once. I’m still having fun making them and figuring out the medium. Figuring out myself.”
True, on a cosmic scale, our life is insignificant, yet it doesn’t mean that the brief period of our appearance shouldn’t be a heavily serendipitous one. Our existence might be a highly complicated joke, but the trick is to get personally and emotionally involved with it. And Indiana-based artist Nathaniel Russell has mastered that very trick to perfection. On first impression a lot of his work appears to be played out for laughs, but in actuality there’s a deep humanistic approach to even the silliest of his fake flyers - and to basically everything he decides to share with the world: from the beautiful artwork he delivered for skate brands like Element, over to psych-informed screenprints and positive propaganda posters he executes via the almost forgotten woodcut technique, up to the heartfelt, left field singer-songwriter records he puts out every now and then. It seems as if none of his many ideas ever quite die, they often just come back in a different form. The next year will see him returning to the West Coast for a collaboration with San Mateo’s renowned Atlas Skateboard Store as well as for a solo show at San Francisco’s Gallery 16 - his biggest yet, which will most definitely be as multi-facetted and truthful as you hope it will be.
“San Francisco and the West Coast are magical places that inspire and enrich in a different way, but I find most of my ideas come from walking and thinking and reading and listening to music... and I feel like that is the same wherever I go. All these works of mine - prints, posters, flyers, etc. - are almost notes to myself. I am not always optimistic or positive. I’m often angry or frustrated or tired. A lot of these pieces are reminders to myself to try to be better and to try to make things easier for myself and others. There is so much terrible shit in the world that I need a voice whispering in my ear telling me that all is not lost.“