Featured Artist: Into the Wild with ND Tank
"I have a profound respect for nature and feel a deep connection to it. Hopefully my art reflects that."
Redbubble artist ND Tank has built a design practice influenced by the great outdoors, and man’s relationship to our natural environment. Recently the talented artist spoke to us about his artworks, the realization he had that design needed to be a bigger part of his life, and an insight into his creative evolution. Our interview below shows how Tank has taken his hard work and focus to create a beautiful, wild portfolio.
Can you tell us how you got into design? When did you start making art? What was your childhood/younger years like in terms of your creative life?
I am fortunate to have parents that have always encouraged me to think for myself and not be deterred by perceived norms or boundaries. Art, particularly in the form of books and music, was always an important aspect of life at home. As a result, I’ve always enjoyed making art. I won’t say I was always very good at it (my parents will tell you I was an incredibly bad colorer) but the interest was always there. Luckily, I had people around me over the years that recognized my potential and helped push me into discovering my abilities.
Despite the foundation always being there, however, I have only been seriously pursuing design for a couple of years. It took me a long time to realize that art and design should play such a central role in my life and a little longer to realize people might be interested in what I had to offer.
I love your work featuring the outdoors, forests, and mountains. What is it about the great outdoors that so inspires you?
I grew up and live in the mountains and spend a large amount of my time outdoors and in the woods. Naturally, these things find their way into my work, sometimes literally, as in “Feathers 1…” which features scanned images of feathers found while hiking and “Lonely…” an edited photograph of the woods behind my home.
It’s hard not to be inspired by nature. There’s always something new to discover at every scale from the mountains to the moss. It’s a beautiful mess. I hope to capture the tiniest bit of that in what I do.
"I am still searching to find my true style, so it constantly evolves. There are so many artists old and new to discover and learn from. I’m always experimenting with their styles, and trying to find new ways to interpret or merge them while maintaining my own voice."
How has your aesthetic or style changed over the years? Do you feel like there are outside influences that have changed the trajectory of how and what you’ve created?
For years, all I drew were simple little cartoons. They were almost exclusively animals caught in awkward situations staring at each other. With the exception of these cartoons, I found my self avoiding art because I took it too seriously. Now that I have started to look at art more as making or creating rather than just drawing or painting, I enjoy it more and find myself to be much more productive.
I am still searching to find my true style, so it constantly evolves. There are so many artists old and new to discover and learn from. I’m always experimenting with their styles, and trying to find new ways to interpret or merge them while maintaining my own voice.
Mostly, I’m easily distracted… I think that has me always looking in new directions with my art. A lot of trial. A lot more error.
I notice there are a lot of motifs and symbols in your work of mountains, moons, feathers and trees, which can sometimes be seen as spiritual symbols. Can you talk about that and about the symbolism or meaning behind your works?
I’m not sure how much conscious symbolism goes into my work. I have a profound respect for nature and feel a deep connection to it. Hopefully my art reflects that. I feel I might be reaching if I claimed I was intentionally attaching my spirituality to this aspect of my work, but I certainly can see where it might find its way in there on its own.
I’d be very curious to hear how someone else would translate my work symbolically.
Do you have your own spiritual or belief system? I hope this isn’t too personal to ask about your relationship between art work and art making and spirituality?
Deep down, your spirituality and beliefs shape everything you do. Inversely, everything you do shapes those beliefs. I don’t know how much my spirituality or beliefs come through in my art. That might be for those observing to decide.
"Now that I have started to look at art more as making or creating rather than just drawing or painting, I enjoy it more and find myself to be much more productive."
Lastly, can you tell us which is your favorite artwork on your Redbubble profile and why?
Picking favorites is always challenging. At the moment (and falling conveniently into the context of this interview) I am rather fond of “First Snow… “It was a simple piece that came about very naturally. Its sparseness and the way it fades into the canvas make it somewhat immersive. I like to think it really draws you into the scene and leaves it to your imagination to fill in the landscape.