We had the good fortune of connecting with Nolan Flynn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nolan, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Growing up I was introduced to art at a young age like most of us are, with whatever accessible art supplies were present amongst the house. From crayons to tempera paint, pastels, and colored paper I had at the ready an abundance of supplies thanks to my mother. Being a middle school teacher she was always prepping projects, lesson plans, and collecting art supplies. Despite both my parents being educators and wonderful parents and human beings, I wasn’t the best at applying myself. I was never one to finish homework or pay attention in class. Doodling and sketching on print outs and dreaming off while reading was the norm. I wasn’t a complete slacker and did work hard on jobs, and objectives I at the time deemed fit. Working a variety of jobs through highschool in preparation for college I knew I didn’t want to. be in the service or labor department. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship for undergrad art at Western Michigan University. I initially didn’t plan on it but found myself falling into the path of least resistance. I thought that with a design degree I could use my artistic understanding in a profession that would be rewarding, enjoyable, and challenging. I didn’t know it at the time but it wasn’t so much the design and creative problem solving I thought would keep me interested, but the cooperation and comradery that came from working and teaching others. Post-graduation from WMU I started my own gallery and studio at the Park Trades Center in downtown Kalamazoo. Had monthly openings and was profitable for ~3 years prior to applying for my MFA. Finishing up at the University of Utah with my MFA in painting focused on post-verbal communication, my dream was to inspire and give back while having a healthy private practice on the side. A balance I believe is the only way to do it and continue to exercise that scale. Teaching at a collegiate level was great for the couple years I did, but until recently switched gears and transitioned to highschool. The ecosystem of unadulterated creativity and energy is wonderful at this level and I know I can help and contribute to enriching those through art, as they do with me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The work contains multivalent abstract fields and sketches question the presence of weighted ideas like relational aesthetics within the lens of human experiences, and ultimately questioning what we believe to be a finished piece. My most recent work encapsulates a threshold of time within the constraints of my experiences, whether it is personal input or global issues. During the act of creation, I emotionally and autocratically respond to the visual and literary elements evolving on the surface of his canvas with a personal critique and subconscious awareness of the interactions and symbolism each stroke creates. This act of self-critique and sketch-like visuals comes from a lack of predetermined movements, and the ideas unfold naturally. I relate my process to that of Jean Claude Christo considering the initial idea and plan as a completed piece rather than a final work. In Christo’s work, the sketch and initial plan is revered and is the only contribution to the actual secondary goal that the original idea presented. Launch points or areas of influence such as a to-do list begin the process, these ideas stem from emotionally charged or a repetitious experience. Once written or briefly sketched, these areas of insight begin to evolve through a process of personal edits, using an x, a circle, or being crossed off and adjusted. This evolution of thought and critique across the surface begs to question, “When is the piece, or whether ends ever came to be within the many struggles or cognitive thoughts.”Initially, the work stemmed from a metaphorical embryonic sketch and an insular language only known to me. However distant and removed, the scribbled words and sketches are a third rendition of the work. My original ideas are reflected in the lack of planning prior to creation and offer a purely human and emotional response, creating an approachable look into his own thoughts and experiences. The works dichotomy between both the aesthetic choices and flexibility of visual edits within my lens life scope. Logically, many ideas or ways to create and adapt in both a literal sense or visual sense can happen depending on one’s conditioning, in any way a logical sense of presence and personal critique is apparent. It was never easy getting to where I currently am. From undergrad to grad I have always had multiple jobs to help save up and make it work. I remember when post-undergrad I was working at a hospital in Michigan 50 hours a week and still had the love and energy to go to my studio gallery to work until the early morning the following day only to repeat the process again. This lust for the arts and the community surrounding it despite adversity helps me continue to pursue the arts. And when the gallery began to get too easy I knew it was time to accomplish my next goal which was to get my masters. I did however learn a valuable lesson, well one of many….. But while working with the ICD/PPM or defibrillator and pacemaker patients I always would ask them questions like “if they could change anything would they?” In many cases, they wished they would have done something they loved rather than working for money. Because time is something we can’t yet control, and like all the bad song lyrics, money can’t buy happiness. My brand isn’t so much about inaccessible ideas and far-reaching conceptual ideas. My sketches and paintings one would compare to a child. That being said they should encourage those to have fun and create regardless of the outcomes.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to my favorite pubs. Theres this one we would start at called X Wives place, its a small dive bar with stained carpet, smoke destroyed ceiling panels and some old pool tables. They have great shot and tall beer deals. Once done and primed for the evening we would hit fisher brewing then finish up at skyy bar a dance club where we could make up our own dances moved and cut loose. Following the first night we would shoot down to capital reef to do some offroading and camping. Get away and find peace and enjoy our company and companionship.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Aside from the continual support of my friends and family throughout my long journey to where I am today. I would say one of the most pivotal people along that path is Mr. Henry Becker. A current University of Utah Graphics Design Professor who I worked with throughout my Master’s degree. He helped push me and guide my energy and work ethic towards clarity and understanding the conceptual nuances that existed within my world. Something that I could then use within the visual realm to which I trod. From historical relevance and classic art theorists like Barthes to Bader-esque cutting edge art, Henry was there to help support. From professor and tutor to friend and brother he’s been there since.