Nathaniel Russell Interview

May 19, 2014
Nathaniel Russell

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where do you live and what’s it like?
i live in indianapolis, indiana. i grew up on the south side but now i live more north. it’s a good place to live. mellow as you want it to be, things to get into if you feel like it. there’s a lot more happening than when i was a kid, but you can get out to the middle of nowhere pretty quickly if you want to.

what is your art studio and working environment like? when do you typically clock in?
my studio at the moment is spread between some basement work tables, my computer desk/office, the backyard and the kitchen table. wherever is best suited to whatever it is i’m doing. i’m also fairly disorganized and none of this is on purpose. i’m moving right now and working on making a new studio from scratch, so hopefully this will make everything perfect from here on out. i usually start in the morning with emails and work that involves computering, saving the drawing and painting stuff for later in the day after i wake up fully and get the stressful things off my back. i kinda spread it out all day long, taking dog walking breaks and family time as needed.

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when did you start making art? did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
i have drawn since i was a little boy, i don’t really remember not doing it. my uncle could draw and paint and i looked up to him. i guess i never made a decision to be an artist, i just sort of kept doing it until it became what i did.

when did you start drawing?
pre-school battle scenes are my earliest drawing memories.

what is inspiring you these days?
objects and sculptures. banners and flags. old ways. old people singing.

Last good film you saw? good book?
that slint documentary “breadcrumb trails” is incredible.
i just read a book by eric schlosser about nuclear weapons that was amazing but a total bummer. still good!

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any secrets or routines you do to help your productivity/creativity?
going for walks and not looking at a computer are good. reading books that are not about art. going to the art museum. taking a sketchbook and sitting outside with a cup of coffee.

you’re a new father right? that’s wild? whats it like maintaining your art practice, baby life and sanity?
yeah having a baby is crazy and it turns your world inside out but i think also can supercharge those connections with the infinite real things in life. my spare time situation is much different and i mainly do things when i’m able, remain loose, and make the most of the thinking time i have while walking around the house at 4am trying to get the little dude to sleep. it’s a new and different method for making things happen which is probably for the best.

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if you could have any superpower what would it be?
stopping time and walking around while everything is frozen

what is your favorite spot in the world right now?
i just got this really comfy chair from ikea that feels really nice to sit in with the windows open and the breeze that comes just before a storm blowing past

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where do you feel at home?
at home. that sounds stupid, like it should be in a yurt in a jungle or something but i love being at home with the animals and the records and the family and books and all that stuff that i find really comforting and nice.

what are you currently working on?
i’m trying to finish a record i made and a little book of drawings. to go along with it. i have some art shows to make things for. i’m trying to finish up some paintings and care packages for friends that i have let drag on for way too long. i am still trying to work on this art book/audio-visual presentation of failed ideas and art concepts. so much to do!

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do you envision a positive future or do you think we are all fucked? apocalypse theories?
i can’t function if i just think we are all screwed. i mean, we probably are, but we might not be, so i might as well try to make things better, try to be a good person, and try to put good things and vibes into the world. i have hope.

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what is your spirit animal?
sloth with a beaver tail

what astrological sign are you? do you relate to it? if yes, how?
i am an aquarius. i guess that makes sense to people. i like the ideas of those magical mysteries and all the weird unexplainable stuff in the universe, but i can’t say i practice it too much myself. i’m more into the people that are into it and the possibility of it all.

who are some of your favorite artists currently?
oh man that’s so hard, i feel like i have a hall of fame of people that have left their mark on me. lately though it’s about my friends. they are the people i get to work with and get up close to the process and see all the secret parts and have long conversations about what it all means to make things. so in this moment i think about chris vorhees, kyle field, michelle blade, rich jacobs, katie coles, and maybe 10 other people i’m forgetting and will feel bad about.

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where do you see yourself in 10 years?
hopefully having more things figured out. i kind of want to start painting paintings, like legitimate big paintings on canvas. i could get in to that in the new studio. it would be nice t be doing the same things i’m doing but just more dialed in. i think that comes with age with anything if you keep doing it.

what would be your last meal before execution?
maybe something healthy like a smoothie and a salad or something so i could face the afterworld feeling pumped.

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