Artist Spotlight: Nolan Pelletier

June 20, 2019

We are so excited to be interviewing our newest debut RCC artist, Nolan Pelletier, for this special Artist Spotlight post! Nolan is a breath of bold, bright, and beautiful air. He is a master of colorful and detailed work–often reminding us of styles and themes from many different eras of amazing art. If you haven’t had a chance to check out his styles of gift wrap, greeting cards, and bags–you WON’T want to miss them. The colors burst off the page, and inspire us to live our most colorful life! Read on to learn more about his work, sources of inspiration, and of course, his favorite drink. Thank you, Nolan! We love you!
Nolan Pelletier
Tell us about your life in Canada! How did you end up there from Connecticut?
As a pre-teen I loved the charmingly low-budget 80s Teen Drama Degrassi Jr. High. I convinced my parents to bring me to Toronto to visit the filming locations, and thought Toronto was exotic and fun and exciting. In 2007 I moved here for art school. Now all my friends and my wife (Kaley—she’s also an illustrator) are here, so I’m stuck in Canada!

Did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations in childhood?
Growing up I really wanted to be an animator. By the age of 10 I had a subscription to Animation Magazine, binders full of interviews with animators that I’d printed off the internet, and I’d decided I wanted to go to Cal Arts to study animation. As I got older I realized that being an animator meant drawing the same thing over and over, and I don’t think I have the skills or patience to do that!
Your art pulls from so many incredible eras of art and is so vibrantly detailed. Which eras or artists are the most inspiring to you and why?
My work pulls from lots of different eras of art, but it’s always filtered through an appreciation of mid-century design. The illustrators and designers from that era borrowed heavily from different historical periods, but updated it with a modern design sense and colors. I try to apply that same ethos to my own work, and pay homage to both the historical art I love, and the mid-century illustrators who helped foster that appreciation. It gave me a good blue print for how to borrow, adapt, and steal!
Nolan’s inspirational ephemera
Nolan’s inspirational ephemera

My absolute favorites from that era are Naiad and Walter Einsel, Joseph Low, and John Alcorn. I was lucky to have the opportunity to get to know Naiad Einsel in the last few years of her life, and her art and life are a constant inspiration.
Nolan’s inspirational ephemera

What is your favorite piece of work you’ve created?
Probably the newspaper I illustrate, design, and publish, The Somnolent Garden Rambler. I distribute it for free around Toronto and New York. It was bumming me out that all my personal work was only being seen on tiny phone screens, so I wanted to create something that was tactile.  I’ve put out two issues so far, and would like to start work on the 3rd soon. It’s nice to have complete control over both the form and content of the publication.

If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be an archivist! Since I was in high school I’ve loved collecting ephemera—and that’s led to some jobs in archives over the years. One summer I helped catalog and locate 1930s Works Progress Administration paintings at the Connecticut State Library, and I spent another summer digitizing the director David Cronenberg’s archive. I still love scouring the stacks for obscure reference material, or visiting archives to read through an artist’s papers. There are so many great resources that you can’t access online that are ripe for the plundering. Visit your local library!
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I’m working on a few record covers at the moment, and some boxes for a cosmetic company.
Obligatory Red Cap question: favorite drink?
Avery’s White Birch Beer! There’s this tiny soda company near where I grew up that has been bottling soda in a little red barn since 1904. My Grandfather would always have a wooden case of them in the basement, and they came in thick vintage bottles they’d been re-using since the 40s. When you pick up a case you can watch them filling up the bottles on an old rickety conveyor belt. For alcoholic drinks, maybe a Tom & Jerry? But only at Christmas time.