Our “Inspiration Boost” blog posts showcase Lalita's Art Shop artists and celebrate their work! As we love to make you discover new talents and give you a little "BOOST" of inspiration in your day, we invite you to take 2 minutes to get to know them and get lost in their artistic world!
Nathan is an illustrator, director, toy designer, author and concept artist. He specializes in creating immersive worlds inhabited by unique characters. Scarygirl, his most acclaimed concept, is an ever-evolving cast of characters manifested through graphic novels, limited edition art, video games, VR and a feature film. Nathan’s recent projects include his animated short film and book ‘JUNCTION’, the Australian Academy Award winning ’PELEDA’ series based on Lithuanian mythology and a glass sculpture collaboration with IKEA.
Élise, our founder fell under in love with the fantastic and colorful worlds imagined by Nathan! First, for his work Future Normal, this futuristic vision of what the normality of our society could become, and then, by the "sketch" pencil stroke of his drawings that she wanted to introduce into our game Mismo in order to show children that an artist can use different techniques, mediums and different styles to represent his ideas.
Hello, Nathan! Tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you? What is your background?
Hi! - I'm an Australian/Canadian and fairly recently an official Latvian citizen living in Toronto. I grew up in Australia and come from an artistic family that inspired me to be an illustrator/artist/director/toy designer (and a bunch of other stuff!).
When did you start drawing and what led you to become a concept artist and animator?
My dad is an art teacher and potter. He encouraged me at a very young age to pursue a creative career and I recall selling my work at art fairs around 6 or 7 years old. After high school I studied Illustration at university and initially was an editorial artist for magazines and newspapers. My main focus was on character design and storytelling so there was a natural progression to create animated shorts, games, toys and graphic novels.
Your visual universe is imaginative and very colourful. Can you tell us about your main sources of inspiration and the subjects you like to cover in your works?
My father is a big inspiration on my work, especially his sculptures/pottery. I'm very influenced from my Baltic heritage and exploring the myths and stories that come from that region. The ocean is also a big part of my work - especially evident in my Scarygirl brand.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the Futur Normal puzzle you created with us this year?
This piece was created just as Covid was beginning to create headlines around the world a couple of years ago. I was imagining a future (hundreds of years from now) where global mask wearing would just be a common place occurrence. Originally I wanted the design to work as a large mural (it's much longer than the puzzle) and have a layer of Augmented Reality when you view it via a phone.
You also collaborated with us on the game Mismo. Had you collaborated on any games before? What was your inspiration for the visual of this one?
Yes, digital games have been a big part of my career for many years and I've been fortunate to collaborate with a number of talented programmers and artists to bring them to life. Mismo is my first analog game collaboration and it gave me a chance to play around with three different drawing styles that were kid-friendly (from very loose sketches to tighter digital art).
You also do animation. What brought you to give life to your characters?
I love working in animation mostly from the world building, design and directing side of things. It was always a dream of mine to create short and long-form films in this medium. There's only so much you can do with a static character in 2D or toy form. The personality of your creations truly comes to life when you see them interacting with their environment and being part of compelling narratives.
You have developed a whole series of artistic toys. How did you get there? What are these toys bases on?
The first art toy that was commercially produced was in 2001 and based on an early version of Scarygirl. Since that time there's been over a 100 different toy characters made mostly from the Scarygirl universe but also from my world of owls. I was fortunate to get into toys when a design company from Hong Kong saw my work online and thought it would translate well into collectible figures.
Your art is really diverse and you also write and illustrate your own books. Tell us a little about your approach as an author? What are you inspired by? What led you to write children's books?
Scarygirl was the first graphic novel that I was able to write and illustrate (published in 2009 by Allen and Unwin, Australia). It was based on my wordless comic years earlier that was printed weekly in a Hong Kong lifestyle magazine insert. Since that time I've written/illustrated 2 other books (Junction and Birthmark, published by Koyama Press, Canada). Most of the stories are based on fantastical interpretations of my own experiences as a teen.
Can you tell us about your creative process? How do you go about creating your work?
I love drawing with pen/pencil on paper for all my initial ideas. I tend to avoid the computer at this stage as there's something about the tactile feeling of doodling in a real sketchbook. I'm a big believer in writing/drawing lots of notes before starting big projects. After this stage I work in lots of mediums so it depends on what the final outcome is meant to be. For a lot of personal work and art commissions it will be coloured pencils on watercolour paper and for commercial work, I'll often use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
Can you tell us how you go about cultivating your creativity and staying inspired?
Write down things you love. List things that are personal to yourself. Think about story. Roughly sketch and write even if you don't feel inspired as sometimes little bits of gold come from just a small phrase or scribble.
Are there any artist who have had a meaningful impact on your work and if so, how?
My Dad (Vitas Jurevicius). His pottery forms and tireless experimentation. Brett Whiteley. The freedom in his drawing style and paintings. Gustave Doré. His interpretations of religious texts and the way he handles light. Norman Lindsay. The way he designs characters and their expressions is so inspiring.
What's the best advice you've received as an artist or the most important thing you've learned that you' wish you had known when you started your career?
Enjoy the process and don't be afraid to take risks. Also if you're lucky enough to make a living as an artist appreciate every day.
Do you have any new projects coming up that you would like to share with us?
I'm currently in production on a Scarygirl feature film and development for a TV show based on a re-imagined Baltic mythology.
Thank you for taking the time to answer us!
Discover Nathan's collection by clicking here.