Dear reader, have you ever entertained the thought, “Do I want to be famous?” I am sure you have in one form or another. I sure have. It’s more than the simple question of do I actually want to be famous? for it has an extra layer to that ubiquitous question; Is it OK for you/me/all of us to truly desire fame from our chosen Art?
This is the conundrum San Francisco artist Nick Angel is going through as he is carving his own path with the Art coming through him as opposed to the Art he has been producing for others.
Nick has been a graphic designer for top global brands for 25 years. Being turned on to graphic design in college at the Academy of Art in San Fransisco, that profession fit his temperament perfectly. –Here’s what you need to do. Here are the tools. Here’s the audience. Now translate this desire to something that the audience can understand.
All the while, Nick knew he was a closeted artist, listening to the haunting voices of fear and doubt: Art is a trivial thing. It’s a distraction. You’ll never make money.
Nick explained, “I always kept putting it off. I was like, one day I’ll be able to do this. There’s plenty of time”.
Now seems to be the time.
Right at the pandemic’s beginning, Nick was laid off as the VP of Design for a FinTech startup and reacted as anyone would, “I’m screwed. I don’t have a job, no income coming in. Nobody’s hiring. So what am I going to do?” That is when another haunting voice came to Nick, this time with encouragement, expressing: this is your chance. You have to do this now. If you don’t, you’ve never going to do it. There’s no excuses. You can’t hide from us anymore. We’ve been waiting all this time.
Nick decided to move forward with his own Art and use what he’s learned through many years of graphic design: discipline, having a stopping point, not approaching a blank canvas as a blank canvas, instead, setting boundaries and building his world through structure and the intentional question; what do I want to see in the world?
He started with a form of calligraphy. Then, wanting to free himself up and get into his hand instead of the mouse, Nick allowed this language to come through him. “It wasn’t English, it wasn’t anything,” described Nick, “It was this bizarre Arabic, Japanese, Chinese thing.”
Strongly influenced by Dungeons and Dragons as a child growing up in a rural town in New Mexico, Nick was not just the player in the game but the one who created the game. “I love world-building. I can’t just make something unless I understand the context of it. And so, I started to create a context around this calligraphy: Taoist, Japanese, Arabic,…I am a huge fan of calligraphy and calligraphers; it’s always been a through-line of my work.”
Nick’s multi-dimensional world of Art continued to evolve with themes of fantasy, consumerism, imagery, and his current focus, mythology. Working with the darker Egyptian and Aztec Gods, allowed him to explore the depths and shadow-side of his personality. “My favorite music growing up was goth. I definitely have a darker side, which doesn’t come out a lot when you’re trying to be a dad. So it needs an outlet.” This is his outlet.
These dark Gods were the focus of Nick’s recent and first exhibit in October, a considerable milestone for Nick, giving him the type of feedback he was looking for. “There were people who would come in and instantly be drawn into the work and want to talk about it. And others who would walk in and literally turn and leave. So I was like, that’s great, that’s exactly what I want.”
The question still remains for Nick, is it OK for him to want to be famous as an artist making HIS Art and not theirs? He is still determining if he wants to chase that dragon, “I would love to sell my Art. But I feel that if that becomes my life, it has to become my life” Nick continues, “I don’t want to be known as having anything as a style which might prevent me me from being marketable. So again, am I doing this to make money?”
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The seed has been planted, the first exhibit with feedback has been had, and now Nick continues to create with more flow and focus and less doubt and resistance. “I don’t need any provocation. And that’s one of the beneficial side effects of having been a graphic designer for so long. Creativity isn’t something I have to tease the muse out of the ether.”
Will Nick leave his graphic design and focus on his own world-building art? Or will he continue to dance between both worlds? We will have to wait and see what world Nick builds next.
“Just being able to think of myself as an artist is a huge success.”
Where to find his Art?
Nicks successful career as a graphic designer can be seen on his website.
But his newer work and nom de plum, Wretched Blasphemy, lives here.
Ready to Plan A Visit?
Since 1929, artists and designers have called Academy of Art University their home. Founded in San Francisco and family owned, it is one of the largest private, accredited art and design schools in the nation.
Local Hotels & Restaurants
While visiting The Academy of Art University in San Fransisco, you will be in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a modern and contemporary art museum located in San Francisco, California. A nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art, and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art.
Michael Mina & Ayesha Curry are behind this globally minded outpost for grilled meats & cocktails.
- Party at Temple Nightclub
540 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Chic, multiroom club with varied music & decor, plus an eco-conscious, interactive dance floor.
- Stay at The Clancy, Autograph Collection
299 2nd St.
One of the newest hotels in downtown San Francisco, CA
Wretched Blasphemy and Nick Angel
Focusing on the work and not so much myself. I am inspired by religion, mysticism, and folklore and by utilizing the archetypes and iconography of the various traditions of the East and West, I am creating a kind of blasphemous gesture. Wretched comes from the weird masochism of the Catholics (I was raised as such).. “Amazing grace… saved a wretch like me.” I find it amazing that the Catholic church emphasized the belief that we are all born tainted, that we are sinners, and only through Cloudgrandpa’s grace are we saved. Weird.
Jeff 26x40" acrylic, oil, synthetic gems, gold foil on canvas
One of the first characters from my evolving pantheon of gods.Read More
Pain 20x20" Digital collage printed on masonite.
Nick discusses the dichotomy of working for others versus himself.Read More
Blood Diamond Media: Digital (vector) art
This digital piece is inspired by comedian Doug Stanhope.Read More
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