Artist of the Week: Nathaniel Fleming

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Nathaniel Fleming in his natural habitat. WILLIAM WIN/FOGHORN

The world is Nathaniel Fleming’s home: he’s taken up residence in Sydney, Singapore and now, San Francisco. The Foghorn sat with the senior advertising major to discuss the origins and inspirations behind his art and how travel has influenced his outlook on life.

Kate Sagara: When did you start creating your own art?

Nathaniel Fleming: Ever since I can remember. It’s always been a part of my family. My mom’s a mural artist, my sister’s a fine artist and my dad was a chef — so that’s a whole other realm of artistry.

Nathaniel Fleming in his natural habitat. WILLIAM WIN/FOGHORN

KS: What advice would you give to yourself five years ago knowing what you know now?

NF: Use school facilities more. I’m sad that I’m not going to have access to the Epson printers anymore. Also, don’t be afraid to try new things because you can find out new skills if you take risks.

KS: How do you think living in so many different places has influenced your art?

NF: [Living in Singapore] definitely drew me to my preferred medium. Graffiti is illegal there. Well, it’s illegal everywhere — that’s the definition of it. But street art is considered graffiti in most contexts in Singapore. One time, I got the chance to work with this Australian artist who came to my school in Singapore. We helped him put up this massive multi-layered stencil. It was beautiful. It took him weeks to cut. Then the Singaporean authorities made him paint over it after we had installed it because it was a representation of the ex-prime minister. So that made me really frustrated and angry. I couldn’t even imagine what Luke Cornish, the original artist, must have felt. He put so many weeks into this project, and just not having control over your art and its canvas, that made me want to do it more. It made me want to recreate provocative pieces and striking pieces. So I guess living in that environment inspired me to make more art.

KS: How do you know when a piece of art is ‘finished’?

NF: When it’s up on the wall. You can always keep going. That’s a hard part. I reckon you have to make the decision yourself as an artist. People can critique you for something looking unfinished. But if it accomplishes the original idea and you’re satisfied, then you shouldn’t change it based on what others think of it.

KS: What is your dream project?

NF: I’m super into coffee, so I would love to create or do the walls for specialty cafés around the world. I think those are gathering places, or meeting places, or points of inspirations when [people] start their day. So it would be a great place to be able to put a smile on people’s faces.

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