Talented landscape painter, graphic designer and all-round creative guy, Nik Harron, has the soul of an artist with a dash of business pragmatism. Being a self-sustaining artist is a tough job. Aside from the act of creating something you are pleased with, you have to get above the noise to show and tell people what you made and try to capture their interest. And more than just their interest, you want someone to buy your art so you can continue to create.
This is a centuries-old problem but one where social media can both help and hinder. “On the upside there’s a sense of control over getting the word out about the work—it’s no longer just a one-sided wait for the media to engage,” says Nik. “But getting above the clutter can be challenging.” He says that early on in his career he would discover something that “blew his mind” maybe once a month and now social media presents him with an embarrassment of riches where he can have his mind blown 20 times a day.
For now, social media is the most cost-effective, accessible approach many artists, including Nik, use to showcase their work. But Nik isn’t just talking about himself on Twitter or Facebook. He is a natural advocate for arts and culture across the region and beyond. “My view has always been that audiences interested in one kind of art tend to be interested in arts in general, so I consciously promote other cultural events and organizations because I’m interested in what they are doing,” he says. “It’s imperative for a rich and vibrant arts community to be supportive and help each other promote—it’s better for both audiences and creators.”
When Nik is not talking about other talents and arts organizations, he is madly at work creating beautiful, delicate and multidimensional landscapes. Depending on the kind of light near his paintings, different elements are emphasized and different patterns emerge. If you stare at one long enough, it’s as if the painting morphs enough to trick your eye that maybe you aren’t looking at the same painting you were moments ago. “As an artist, part of my role is to explore and push the boundaries of texture and light variations, and I make intentional choices during the creative process,” he says.
Moved by the inspiration nature stirs in him, Nik paints to capture the beauty of landscapes before the mess we’ve made of the environment further erodes what’s there. “Our technological society has moved us away from a direct relationship with nature and this simply isn’t unsustainable,” he says. His paintings give us a chance to see his vision of the beauty in local landscapes before it’s altered or lost.
While Nik has been working as a creative type for more than 20 years, he still loves the sense of discovery with each project. “Working so intimately with formless material to create something structured still feels magical to me,” he says. “Although landscape painting would seem to be a tightly controlled process, there’s still room for surprises in painting, and I love that.”
Nik is also an active gamer and is gaming for charity on May 18-19 with some friends at Kwartzlab in Kitchener.
P.S. Nik’s favourite topics of conversation: art, politics, science and philosophy.
*Photo by David Redding