Nick Nortier: ‘A lot of my work is inspired by the natural world and our connection to it’

We talk to US illustrator and muralist Nick Nortier about how he got started as an artist, what led him into mural making and why Affinity Designer for iPad has become an integral tool in his creative process.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started as an artist.

When I was in grade school my friends and I used to draw silly cartoons every chance we had. There was one year that I went to my friend Mark’s every day after school. We would collect cans and return them for deposit, then use the money to buy comics. We’d go back to his house and draw the characters from them, which is pretty much how it all started.

Wildflower by Nick Nortier Where did your business name Old Growth Creative come from?

It comes from the admiration of old-growth forests and the reverence that comes from seeing something existing in the natural world that hasn’t been altered by human hands. Due to deforestation these forests are increasingly rare and symbolise a need for us to protect our planet and the life that is here.

What made you specialise in mural-making?

In my younger years, I was into graffiti and painting stencils, which eventually led to mural painting. It’s a lot of fun to be able to transform a space and bring it to life. I’m especially drawn to painting in public spaces because it makes art accessible to anyone who walks by and it allows people who wouldn’t normally go to a gallery a chance to appreciate art.

When I was a kid there was a mural of a giant butterfly, probably 30’ tall, which was placed super high on a four-story building downtown. It absolutely blew my mind and I was so excited anytime that I was able to see it. The fact that I have such a vivid memory of it speaks to the power of public art. I hope that my work can, in turn, inspire other people and instil a sense of wonder.

“I’m especially drawn to painting in public spaces because it makes art accessible to anyone who walks by and it allows people who wouldn’t normally go to a gallery a chance to appreciate art.”

You have a mural displayed on the concourse at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. What is the process for designing, producing and installing something so large?

The mural at the airport began with a pencil drawing, as do most of my murals. I typically draw or print the layout of the wall multiple times and then sketch out quick concepts. Once I have a concept that I like, I’ll do an additional drawing or two and make it as finished as possible before I bring it into the digital realm.

Using Affinity Designer for the iPad, I use the pencil and pen tool to ink the drawing and work out possible colour schemes. When it comes to transferring the image onto the wall, I’ll either use a projector, draw freehand, or use a doodle grid. Having a vector drawing really helps when it comes to projecting because the image will display cleanly on the wall.

“Painting at the airport was particularly crazy because I had to be certified and badged by the

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