Nathan Adams is a self-taught graphic designer who has called the Seattle area his home for over 30 years. Although he didn't formally study graphic design in college, Nathan counts himself lucky to have been mentored by a lot of talented people over the years. Nathan failed the one Graphic Design class he took in high school, earning a passable 'D' along with the notation "student shows no aptitude for this subject." Retaking the same class two years later as a senior, retitled "Legal Graphitti" to sound edgier, Nathan finally aced it.
Nathan went on to get a college degree in Software Marketing, seeking fame and fortune in the internet explosion of the '90s, but ultimately experiencing the ill-fated dotcom bust first hand several years later. Falling back into the Graphic Design field as a means to pay the bills, Nathan never looked back and is now celebrating 18 years of design. Nathan has a lovely wife and five kids whom he absolutely adores, so any free time is spent with his family.
Graphic Design is one of the few industries left where being a smart-aleck is considered an asset, where comic books can legitimately be seen as research material, and where you can be an artist without adding the prefix starving. I love it! I love the freedom of being able to write and illustrate something myself, or being able to work with other talented writers, artists and photographers to create something that's a cohesive whole greater than the sum of its parts. It's like being in a visual rock band. It's been 18 years now, and I've never regretted it.
I run Studio Opolis, a small graphic design studio (it's just me!). I'm not a big fish; I don't have any national campaigns I've worked on (this ad is the biggest exposure I've ever had). I work with clients that no one nationally has ever heard of, and many people regionally haven't heard of either. I work niche and create work that may not matter to everybody, but that really matters to a small group of people. I enjoy helping small businesses take that leap (visually) from looking amateur to looking professional.
As part of Studio Opolis, I also run artpatrol.com, where anyone can submit ugly graphic design and I do my best (in an hour, once a day) to make something effective (or at least not ugly) out of it—for free. There's just too much ugly out there in the world, and I can't fix all of it. But I can at least try to fix some of it. I also manage a blog (full of art patrol submissions and rants) at blog.studioopolis.com.
On his first pair of Fluevogs:
I purchased my first pair of 'vogs in 1990 from the old Seattle store (at First and Stewart, one block from the PIke Place market) and absolutely fell in love. I don't recall which family, but they were black, they were super pointy, they were unlike anything my friends had ever seen, and they were mine! I have been proudly wearing Fluevogs ever since. I currently own five pair, and my wife owns eight. The red-on-red gibson swirls are the pair I wear the most (love them!).
On entering the FluevogCreative contest:
I've been meaning to enter since the CBC design brief, but never got off my butt and did anything about it. I happened to have a slow day at work and decided it was time to enter. It also gave me an opportunity to create something visual, which I hadn't done in a while. It was an itch that needed to be scratched. Plus, the opportunity to get more Fluevogs (for free!) was just too good to pass up. I've been eyeing those black creepers for months…
On the inspiration behind Nathan's winning ad Stained Glass Meera:
I take inspiration from everything: books, comics, art, animation, movies (especially old and foreign movies. Have you watched any Indian movies? The colors are unbelievable!), music, fashion and television. Everything created is beautiful in its own way, and the more you take in, the greater the resources you have to pull from. That said, the idea for this design came when I was trying to create something else. My original thought was to go Bollywood (it made sense because of the name Meera), but I just couldn't make the design work. Everything that came out was just flat and uninspiring, and it was frustrating.
So I stepped back and thought, "forget what it's called … what does this shoe look like?." And then I hit upon the idea of stained glass…that's exactly what the shoe looks like to me. From there, it just flowed. There's this feeling of being in the zone, when you know that what you're working on is just right. That's my favorite part of the design process. Knowing I'm being true to the soul of the thing.
While working on digitally recreating the shoe in glass, I was referencing a bunch of old stained glass church windows and was amused by the thought of St. John sharing a name with John Fluevog. Since I was already in a religious frame of mind, I added the "Behold!" (I tried Hallelujah! but it didn't look as good). The creative took between six and seven hours, start-to-finish.
At that point, it just felt complete.
On what the dreams and future hold for Nathan Adams:
As for dreams, my biggest hope (which is like a dream) is that my kids grow up to be happy, unique people who are comfortable with themselves and their place in the world. I want to dance with my wife on our 50th wedding anniversary…in Fluevogs, of course.
And I want a world where Comic Sans ceases to exist (man, I hate that font!).
I also want to work with inspiring, creative people! If that's you, please get in touch with me, and let's chat!
Keep an eye out in Inked, Juxtapoz, Good and Wax Poetic magazines for Nathan's winning design in print.