Pittsburgh Technical Council

Pittsburgh Island: Up-and-Coming Illustrator Nathan Doverspike Makes a Splash at the 2014 DATA Awards

Pittsburgh Island: Up-and-Coming Illustrator Nathan Doverspike Makes a Splash at the 2014 DATA Awards

Article Published: August 31, 2014

Doverspike -WebTEQ: So Nathan, tell us a little about your background and what got you into illustration and graphic design?

Nathan Doverspike: I’ve always had a strong interest in illustration. I started sketching in the fifth grade and ever since, I’ve kept every sketch I’ve made. When I was little, the television show Pokémon had a huge influence on me and inspired me to start drawing my own characters. I didn’t consider illustration as a career until about 10th grade, when I won a nationwide art contest with Heinz ketchup. My illustration was featured on millions of ketchup packets and distributed nationwide. I then furthered my education and studied graphic design at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and focused on developing a distinct illustration style. Recently, my “Pittsburgh Island” illustration was chosen for the first Society of Illustrators Comic and Cartoon Annual and is hanging on display at the Society of Illustrators museum in New York City. You can view the rest of my work at http://nathandoverspikeillustration.tumblr.com/ and email me at doverspike360@gmail.com

TEQ: Who/what have been your biggest influences?

Doverspike: My illustration style is strongly influenced by comic book illustrators. Some of the biggest influences for me are the works of Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, Yuko Shimizu, Craig Thompson, Luke Pearson, Jamie Hewlett and Bryan Lee O’Malley. When I first decided to use ink and brush, I referenced their illustrations until I discovered my own style. I also studied the techniques of the comic book colorists Dave Stewart and Nathan Fairbairn. Although, I believe that I would not be at the skill level I am at today without the great teachers I’ve had throughout the years.

TEQ: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Doverspike: I usually find inspiration when I’m listening to music or spoken word. When I start a project, I make a playlist that represents the mood that I want the piece to embody. The lyrics in the songs tend to have metaphors and poetry that provoke visual cues that I might incorporate in my illustrations. For example, lyrics like “because I still think back to the first time you called me with nothing to say” by the artist Flatsound trigger a visual of a phone with a speech bubble coming from it with nothing in the bubble. I might use this visual I envisioned from the lyrics and use it in an illustration that talks about heartbreak. I’m not sure how other artists find inspiration, but musicians are definitely my biggest conceptual inspiration.  

TEQ: How can Pittsburgh grow its artistic community?

Doverspike: If Pittsburgh had a campaign that focused on teaching youth about possible career paths in the arts, kids would be more aware that art isn’t just a hobby and in return would help Pittsburgh grow its artistic community in the future.

TEQ: How did it feel to be a winner at the DATA Awards earlier this year?

Doverspike: The DATA Awards was an amazing experience: everything from the atmosphere to the food was excellent. Winning the Handmade Award by Sandy Kessler was definitely my favorite part. The awards are a great conversation starter, and I love showing off the light show that it produces. I think I was the youngest person at the awards ceremony and winning an award helped validate my career path as an illustrator.

TEQ: What do you do when you’re not illustrating and designing?

Doverspike: When I’m not illustrating and designing I am usually reading comics or reading books on the business side of Illustration and Graphic Design. Illustration is always on my mind, even when I’m not working on something, and I always feel like there is more to learn. 


Sign In or Join Up