about

I find myself enchanted by the history and the trajectory of human innovation. Technological improvement is leading us towards a merger of the biological and the mechanical, where human and tool become one. I explore this through portraiture and illustrative scenarios where the characters are fitted with cybernetic parts that explode into layers for the viewer to examine.

I grew up in a small town in the Appalachian hills. At a young age I worked in the construction industry where I became fascinated by the notion of “progress”. What did it mean to be knocking trees over with bulldozers to make room for a human family to live? The cycle of construction and destruction that plays out at that scale is a phenomenon that echos comparably at all levels where modern humans prevail. Recently I worked as a patent illustrator, wading through the constant stream of invention that flows through the United States Patent Office. Sometimes I look at what we humans do with technology and I am elated, other times I am terrified. I seek to investigate the human progress paradigm and it’s role in nature. This work, to me, is a way of reckoning with this tumultuous time in history.

I use a wide variety of materials: ink, watercolor, acrylic and oils. As a patent illustrator I learned to use the computer to create technical drawings. I continue to use the computer to assist in the line work, and then transfer the drafting to my drawing surface. Aerosols and airbrush are used in many of the backgrounds and the traditional media are used to complete the rendering. When brainstorming for a new piece I often examine ideas through a mind map. Ideas are laid out into a visual net and worked until connections form that lead to an understanding and eventually an image. I borrow from old school patent illustration, comic books and realist traditions to end up with a sci-fi style that can weave a web of narrative.

I am approaching my subject matter from two slightly different technical directions. In one series I am using portraiture and figurative work to focus on the human element of technology, giving the viewer a person to identify with, often with an emotive facial expression. The more realist, photographic style serves to better make that connection.

The second series puts machines and non-human animals together, enclosed by the format of a technical diagram. With this style, I hope to convey a sense of wilderness being trapped within the designs of industrious minds.

In addition to the paintings I have been experimenting with animating my work. The exploded, diagrammatic image lends itself well to being animated into a .gif loop, exploding and reassembling continuously. The 4th dimensional quality of .gif animation speaks to the nature of invention, which is itself the product of time and imagination.

I find inspiration by learning about scientific advancements, paying particularly close attention to the fields of robotics, cybernetics and artificial intelligence. My work portrays existing technology, innovations that may be possible in the near future, and also slightly twisted versions of where technology could go. I also find inspiration in walks through the woods or down train tracks, balancing on the rail. There are wild, growing things entangled within the city and they are constantly pushing against the human-made objects. Each side arguing that the other is encroaching on its own territory.

If you have any questions about my art or resume, please send an email to natev83@gmail.com