“I definitely have a world in my head; like clashing continents…”
There’s something spectacular in the ability to conjure up fictitious worlds, and Nick Whitmyer is certainly no stranger to it. The extensive detail of his supernatural sculptures leads the viewer to wonder just what goes into his creative process.
A recent graduate from the College of Charleston, Whitmyer has been working with clay like materials since he was a child. What makes Whitmyer and his little creatures that seem to inhabit their own parallel dimension unique? We sat down with him and some beers to find out.
When seeing work as otherworldly as Whitmeyer’s, the inevitable question “what are these things and how did he come up with them?” is bound to arise. We were curious, too.
“I try not to get too much inspiration from other people”, he says. “I look more towards a combination of illustration, Instagram, graphic novels and comic books, and video games. But honestly, I only look to contemporary art as a means to display artwork and present it, you know?”
The fact that Whitmyer doesn’t glean any of his ideas from any specific artist allows him to create intricately detailed pieces that are uniquely and distinctly his own (something that’s a little lacking in the digital/contemporary art world). Though his work is devoid of any artist influences, it’s pretty evident that he does find inspiration in oceanic creatures and other life forms, and as Whitmyer himself adds, in “Zelda and phallic objects.”
Whitmyer’s ideas develop as he works, often taking happy accidents in stride to create figures that seem to embody their own stories.
So what is the process you implement in the creation of your figures?
Nowadays Whitmyer begins with a wire armature as the base for sculpting his otherworldly creatures. Using both sculpey and earth clay, ideas for the figures Whitmyer makes develop as he works. Although he has recently been working with more sculpey, Whitmyer said “One of the cool things about using earth clay is that you can get amazing texture with it. Earth clay dries with time and sculpey just gets brittle to work with.” Whitmyer mentions that his choice of media can be really difficult, especially when he has to detach limbs before firing them and glue them on afterwards. Sometimes he declares that he just doesn’t know what to do with the work, that it’s only figured out when it’s done.
How long have you been working with these materials?
“My parents used to buy me clay when I was young because I liked manipulating things I guess, like pliable stuff. Malleable stuff. That was my first delve into it”. He’s been developing his sculpting skills ever since. Fine art, specifically sculpture, seemed to be the only logical continuation of his childhood endeavors.
While most people tell artists to not to quit their day job, Whitmyer uses his to his advantage. He uses collected scraps from his 9-5 job at Urban Electric as finishing accents to his sculptures. He’ll bring home various found objects ranging from metal plates discarded from light fixtures to plastic filament used to create fragmented gems protruding from his characters. See? There’s art in everything; don’t listen to the naysayers.
Your studio space also doubles as your living space; does one aspect of this combination ever take precedence over the other?
“I think one of the reasons I don’t come in here and work is because it’s kind of boring. It probably doesn’t have enough stuff on the walls”. Nick hung his work up on the freshly painted wall for the interview which he said seemed to help with the creative energy. “A lot of this [work] is really old”, he said. “I haven’t really had the drive to do this kind of stuff recently. I just need to get myself into a world of art. It’s something I really really want to do, but I don’t really want to know what I want to do. I definitely need a little bit more drive though. I feel like I’m kinda runnin’ out of some ideas
I dunno, I’ve just been kind of trying to figure it out”.
Each of Whitmyer’s creatures have so much individual character so we asked “Is there a specific setting these creatures belong in? Where do they come from?”
“I really want people to get involved in my artwork, that’s why I get it so detailed. I definitely have a world in my head like clashing continents that float around this kind of weird planet spherical thing. It’d be mostly air and vapor inside the Earth with floating bodies that just kind of orbit around it which brings life to everything. There’re all these floating bodies that will sometimes collide and create havoc. And each little continent is it’s own world, I guess.”
When taking in the display of Whitmyer’s work on the wall, this concept really clicks. It’s easy to imagine the figures orbiting one another from a central point.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
“I was thinking of taking pictures of some of my stuff and making scenes or setups, potentially for a comic or something. I’ve been trying to think of concepts that involve taking more pictures and getting into more photography.Something like photographing my sculptures and just make a bad ass picture out of it.”
Despite some recent artist’s block, Whitmyer has plans for projects in the future. He painted the wall in his room and studio for this interview to hang his works, and we hope it will give him more of the setting he needs to create again. We have high hopes for Whitmyer’s work, and look forward to seeing where his incredible skills and ideas take him.
Find more of Nick’s work on instagram at nitwhitty