NEST HQ was created with the intention of being a platform aimed at promoting and encouraging the growth of artists of all genres and mediums. While we’ve worked mostly within music up to this point, we are expanding on a new content series that will showcase multimedia artists of various backgrounds including painters, graphic designers, architects, and others of the sort; this is installation. Every two weeks, we’ll post hand-selected pieces from our featured artists via our Instagram @nesthq, along with excerpts from the full interviews.
This week on installation, we present graphic designer Douglas Hale.
Can you tell me a bit about how your story as an artist began?
Yeah, actually, I didn’t grow up an artist at all. I didn’t go to school for it and I had no idea I even wanted to do it till about 5 years ago. I’ve been a musician all my life. I wanted to be a rock star so I dropped out of college and really focused on that. The band I was in at the time couldn’t afford a designer, so when it came time to create promo materials, posters, album art, etc. I basically pirated a version of Photoshop and started making them. If anyone from Adobe is reading this I now subscribe to CC, I swear haha. I started an Instagram and began posting promo work, and eventually started getting followers and requests for work. It’s kind of become a career that I never really intended on.
It’s interesting how those things play off of each other, especially in this industry. You’ll start in one direction and move around as needed. At first I thought your collage work was physical, but now realize it’s all digital. Is there anything about the medium you work in that allows you to express yourself the best?
Honestly, I’ve never even tried another medium! It was kind of just circumstance. I tried it and stuck with it.
Tell me a little bit more about the actual art. There’s quite a bit of iconic and powerful female, indigenous, and black figures in your work. Is there any symbolism that you specifically imbue into the work, or is it more interpretive?
When I first started, I started with the typical stock pictures of white people (because it’s really all that’s available out there) and I would cut off their heads and put some flowers there haha. I’m actually a white father of black children, and after doing some work I looked out there and realized that my children weren’t really being reflected in modern art – at least not in the collaging world. I would say specifically my daughter, she’s 8, is my inspiration. I want her to see herself in my work. And actually, a few months ago, we were looking through my work and she specifically expressed that. She said to me “dad I inspire your art, don’t I?”
That’s amazing, and I think it works in your art. The imagery is incredibly powerful. I spend quite a bit of time looking for artists on a daily basis, and particularly enjoy collage work, but your art has always stood out to me so much because of what you portray. Coming back to your history, are there any particular moments in your career that made you realize art would be something you’d take on full time?
A couple things… within the first year I started getting requests for work, one of which was from a t-shirt company based out of LA; they provide t-shirts to Nordstrom, Nylon Magazine, Urban Outfitters, stuff like that. They approached me about doing some design work for them, and that turned into a contract that I still have now 5 years later. I work for them several days a week. That was a pretty large step for me!
Another thing that comes to mind was getting approached by Imagine Dragons to do t-shirts. It wasn’t particularly because I was a big fan, but more just that they were the first real household name that wanted to commission my work. I realized this was a potential career at that point.
Yeah, I would say they are indeed a global household name at this point. Seeing that this was kind of accidental, but now has the opportunity to become a lifelong career, do you have any goals for the rest of 2017? What is the future of this project for you?
Really, cover art is my passion. I love music. I would love to do solely cover art if that were possible. Honestly, a big goal of mine would be to do a cover for Erykah Badu. She lives in my neighborhood, I’ve never had a chance to meet her… But maybe I’ll drop off a piece of work on her porch sometime!
What are three of your favorite pieces?
In God We Trust
I started working on this piece immediately following the election. Specifically I wanted to address the hypocrisy of the notion that the U.S.A. is a “Christian Nation.” Greed is at the center represented by the golden egg. Centered around the greed are references to war, slavery, blaxploitation, celebrity, religion, and the objectification of women.
I am a huge fan of afrofuturistic album covers from the ’70s. Sun Ra, Funkadelic, Parliament – some of my all time favorite covers are from that era. Much of my work is an attempt to recreate that vibe in a modern way. Also FKA Twigs is brilliant.
The limitless options of working digitally can really hinder creativity. In a practice of restraint, sometimes I restrict myself to using only a couple of images with no editing – just cut and paste. This piece I created using two images. I found the image of the woman and boy to be particularly striking. I cut it from an old department store advertisement. I think their expressions and body language are super compelling. I wanted some tension between their mood and their environment which is why I chose the rainbow. I rotated the background so that their gazes would be cast off canvas towards the darker side of the scene.