Nicolas “Nic” Boone shares an insight into his creative development and a selection of his atmospheric works

What is your artistic background?

I drew for a long time, but never really started getting serious about art until college. After some time spent at my first college in San Francisco and some economic hardship, I dropped from my first school and got some of my first student art jobs. I relocated to a school in Pasadena that I had looked up to for years, and found myself pretty disappointed and struggling to pay for it. I ended up learning digital first because of all of this, and find myself in a constant battle to unlearn some bad habits I picked up.

In the last year or so, I’ve found myself doing a lot more traditional work and spending more time enjoying the process of learning than worrying about the trendiest Photoshop brushes. I’ve found that learning in more of an atelier setting, with more of the traditional forms of study, has dramatically helped me. So, in short, I come from a digital background, but find myself distancing from that.

Who or what are your biggest inspirations?

When I was a kid I was a huge nerd. I wasted my time watching and playing what can only be described as a “glorious” amount of anime and games. For as cringeworthy as that was, I find there are some healthy remnants of that floating around today for me. A lot of inspiration comes to me in the form of stories; I end up fixating on history for that very reason and learning a lot about seemingly random things to the average person. I sometimes just like looking at little mechanical doodads and facets laying around and seeing how they work, and thinking about the evolution of their needs and design.

While I try not to fanboy out super hard, some of my favorite artists include Karla Ortiz, Greg Manchess, and Dave Palumbo – though that list is longer than I like to admit. I think what’s really neat about inspiration is that it doesn’t have to be limited to one thing – you can fixate on whatever passing interest and be better off for it.

What subject matter or imagery do you enjoy working with the most?

I have always loved subtle and eerie things. While I honestly enjoy a pretty big range of things, I always find myself returning to pseudo-sexual and religious imagery. Alien was a great movie and probably influenced that to some degree. I find more and more that I look for excuses to put more story and history in every new piece I take on, trying to find reasons for things to exist.

What tools and materials do you use, and why?

I use a bit of everything – I mentioned earlier I came from a digital background. Weirdly enough, that’s because a large purchase of a computer or equipment I saved for was always cheaper than buying the supplies I needed to learn any other way. I couldn’t afford a whole lot for a long time, and found myself relying on my old rig more and more to support my art. While I passively learned some traditional media such as oils, I didn’t pick up any real interest in it until sometime in the last year or two. In particular, charcoal and graphite really struck me as mediums that had a similarity to digital, as well as having a pretty cheap initial cost. That just opened up the floodgates for all kinds of traditional media and forms of study I just hadn’t given much consideration to until recently.

What’s one life lesson or piece of advice you’d share with other artists?
Honestly, there are a lot of lessons I’ve learned and would love to impart, even a ton I am currently learning. That constant state of feeling stupid only recently occurred to me as being a sign of learning. If I had to choose one thing, though: spend more time on enjoying making art than the end goal of it. Fame, money, work, anything like that is a bad motivator, and will only ever lead to you trying to do trendy nonsense or take production shortcuts that otherwise are designed for saving time rather than actually learning. Just love to learn, love to fail, love to create, and you will be fine. Good art takes time.

Nicolas “Nic” Boone was born in San Diego in 1991. He paints ghosts and is kept alive by music, caffeine, and art. Mostly self-taught, he finds a lot of inspiration in the world around us. Visit his portfolio to see more.