Looking for a Hole to Hide In



Illustrator Nat Russell can’t remember a time he didn’t draw.  Taking in Peanuts and Mad Magazine like popcorn and then the works of printmaker Antonio Frasconi and Ben Shahn, Russell’s lines show their roots in those great illustrators as well as his former days as a skateboarder in Indiana. But his own clean renderings and flattened palette have a moodiness peculiar to Russell and are always thought driven, demonstrating as much inclination for the lyric and lugubrious as for the kickflip and its variations.

“My sketchbook is more word than drawings,” he says, noting his inspirations as Homer, Denis Johnson and Richard Brautigan (In Watermelon Sugar).

Russell grew up in a ‘burb of Indianapolis, Indiana, and swam in the quarry where the Cutters swam in Breaking Away. He did letterpress and woodcut seven-inch album covers for a friend’s record label at the age of 18. Forty covers later, he is creating his otherworldly work for Vetiver and other vetted bands and runs in the same circles as black-humored animator Geoff McFettridge.

Currently, he’s at work on his first animation project–for the surf and sea movie Dear & Yonder, which inspiration he draws from banned cartoons of the ’30s and the “’80s lady” Sally Cruikshank.

While his favorite place is “sitting on a chair, drinking coffee and looking at something huge,” he’s also fond of long road trips, solo or with his cat Julius. A memorable moment? Barging the stage as a nineteen-year-old skater with “bad hair” and “big pants” to put his arm around Dr. Ruth, a moment he will say no more about than “I was an intense 19-year-old.”

From Free Idea: “sometimes you go back and look at things you let go: free ideas. but this is from a day ago and i forgot about it, so it ends up your past self trying to tell your now and future self a story.”

Potential titles for his upcoming book of poems, drawings and phrases (feel free to vote below) are:

– there are stars that are eyes and they look at you walking
– i am not impressed by your neck tattoo
– milkbone (booty cruncher)

Rozalia Jovanovic is a founding editor of Gigantic, a magazine of short prose and art. She is the Deputy Editor of Flavorpill and has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Columbia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming from Unsaid, The Believer, Everyday Genius, Guernica, elimae, and Esquire.com. She blogs at The Astonishing Egg and is The Rumpus New York Editor. More from this author →