Meet Minneapolis based illustrator Nathan Motzko…one to watch!

Minneapolis based illustrator Nathan Motzko, blends edgy geometric compositions with subtle organic references. We chatted to Nathan to find out about where he finds inspiration...

Hello, I’m Nathan! I think of myself as a Designer, Illustrator, Maker and Friend. Thinking about it now, the first time I realized I wanted to be an artist of some kind was when I was in first grade. I would often draw and think about how great it would be if I had my art hanging up in a museum some day. Eventually I made it my goal to get better at “making things”, so I could inspire others with my work. What excites me most is the process of discovering the world’s many wonderful designers and artists, and the opportunities that lead me to them.

House Fire, July 2017, Minneapolis MN

I enjoy working out of a local coffee shop called ‘Spyhouse’. The vibe is pretty chilled and I now know the staff because I’m such a regular. I guess that’s what keeps me going, being around other like-minded people who are also working all the time. There’s a lot of creative opportunities in Minneapolis, and so far I’ve found the arts community incredibly welcoming. There are loads of different “scenes”, and it’s nice to see so many people working across them.

I think being exposed to such diversity has had an affect. I definitely take a lot more risks now than I used to. For a while I was stuck on the idea of everything having to be an original painting of some kind. Though I soon realised how much this approach was limiting to me personally, holding myself back from communicating my ideas and actually having fun.

I think of music in terms of layering and creating densities that play with each other. I strive to find a way to express my work in this way, whether it be visually or emotionally.

Nathan Motzko

I’ve found a great way of playing with such layering is just diving straight in, using more digital programs like After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator etc. I realised how much fun it is to just make nonsense! It feels like a wormhole of endless possibilities, that switches up my flow, challenging my rhythm. I feel like I’m starting to figure out how to apply this rhythm to more complex projects and hit that density I’m looking for.

Portals, July 2017, Minneapolis MN

4th of July, July 2017, Minneapolis MN

When I’m not working I love hanging out with friends, going to events around Minneapolis, and meeting new people…it’s a real passion. I like doing improv, listening to improv podcasts, and often try to get my friends to join in when we hang out. I’m not sure if they like it, but they’re pretty patient…haha! I also got a Nintendo Switch not too long ago, and picked up ‘Mario Odyssey’ It’s incredible! Nintendo has been killing it this year! I’ve also been exploring make music myself; to me, music is one of the main sources of inspiration, and informs my art.

Often when I draw, I want to match the sounds I hear with symbols, shapes or characters. Music has always been something of a visual, inspirational experience to me.

My dream project is sort of an ultimate goal of mine; establishing a studio of some kind, and provide opportunities to other creative people. I know so many amazing people, it would be great to get involved and help them achieve. In terms of a project that’s just for me…I’d love to make an animated movie of some kind. I’d assemble my favorite musicians, as well as some of my friends, and hopefully have Owen Wilson star!

Entrances, April 2017, Minneapolis MN (From a small series about taking your own path, trusting your feelings and shaping who you are so that you may inspire someone to do the same.

Pen and ink are my default tools and materials! I also use protractor tools and rulers to get clean lines, and stuff like that. I love After Effects, but I want to invest in C4D and start making weirder 3D shapes…Haha! Otherwise, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are awesome.

I’m currently working on quite a few things! Quite a lot of it is client based, so I can’t talk about it unfortunately. In terms of  personal work, there are two animations I’m trying to figure out. One will definitely take longer to concept, which is why I’m putting it aside for now. The other I’m currently trying to storyboard. It’s going to be a whole bunch of nonsense involving panthers and spaceships. I couldn’t be more excited! My friends run a label called Fuzzoscope and they’re letting me use some of their music which is pretty cool!

Leader, April 2017, Minneapolis MN

Magic, March 2017, Minneapolis MN

In terms of a project that inspires me…There’s an album by one of my favorite musicians, that was released in early October. He goes by the name Submerse, and the album’s called ‘Are You Anywhere’ (On the Project Mooncircle label). What’s so exciting about it, is the confidence it holds and how powerful the samples hit; yet these elements play off of each other. It’s exactly the tone I want my visual work to hit. It holds me in the present moment, and continues to be the soundtrack to what I do. Definitely worth a listen!

2018 will definitely involve finishing my animations! I also want to apply to take part in some conferences and conventions. Overall I just want to keep making and growing as an artist, making time for events and friends…hopefully meeting more exciting people along the way too!

Instagram: @heythan_motzko



Posted on Dec 24th, 17 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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