Q&A with local artist Nathan Shields

In late 2017, thanks to the support of the Land Trust Alliance, North Olympic Land Trust partnered with the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center to host a call for artists in search of a local artist to design and create the main signage of the Land Trust building. The call was part of the Land Trust’s “Love Where You Live” campaign, which is an ongoing, place-based campaign centered on celebrating and promoting responsible land use and stewardship on the North Olympic Peninsula. Thus, the sign will reflect a love for the North Olympic Peninsula through one local artist’s expression.

Following the call, a jury of professional artists and the Executive Directors and Board members of both the Land Trust and Port Angeles Fine Arts Center reviewed an array of incredible applications. The jury was excited to award the project to Nathan Shields, Port Angeles resident and artist.

Upon completion and installation of the sign (likely May or June 2018), the Land Trust and Port Angeles Fine Arts Center will host a public event in celebration of the farms, fish, forests and art of the North Olympic Peninsula, as well as the work of Nathan. Stay tuned for event details.

Nathan Shields, Port Angeles resident and artist talks about his love of where he lives.

Q: How long have you been doing art? And why did you pursue becoming an artist?
A: “I’ve loved drawing as long as I can remember. About six years ago I took a break to focus on my kids after having taught high school math. Freelance art projects gradually turned into a small business that I’m still running, using a range of media in work for a variety of clients around the world. I love the variety that this provides – one day I’ll be filming a whiteboard animation and the next I’ll be printing a woodcut.”

Q: Why did you want to create the signage for North Olympic Land Trust?
A: “North Olympic Land Trust does great work on the Peninsula, helping to keep it the kind of place we love living. When I saw the flyer in the library asking for signage ideas, I knew I had to give it a go.”

Q: Do you love where you live? If so, why?
A: “I grew up in the northwest, playing in the woods in Ketchikan, Alaska and going to school in Bellingham. The environment here affects all of us everyday, whether you’re on the water, in the forest, planting your garden, or watching the rain. There’s nowhere I would rather be.”

Q: How did you come up with the design for the sign you’re creating for the Land Trust? What was your inspiration?
A: “Forests, farms, and fish are priorities for the Land Trust. I arranged those concepts in a continuous scene to show that each one affects the others, and used a series of relief layers to suggest depth. I like making things out of wood, but this is the biggest project I’ve attempted in my workshop.”

About Nathan:

“I grew up in Ketchikan and Bellingham. After living in Oregon and spending time on the tropical island of Saipan, I knew I would need to return to the Northwest. My wife and I brought our two small children to Port Angeles to put down roots five years ago. We love the rivers, mountains, and ocean near our home. We began supporting North Olympic Land Trust through donations last year to help keep the Peninsula healthy and beautiful.

I’m a mathematics teacher by training, but have spent the last few years doing art full time.  I enjoy making linocut and woodcut prints, graphic design, illustration, whiteboard “speed drawing” animation for commercial clients, woodworking, and even making pancake art.”
– Nathan

(Special thanks to Lumber Traders, Inc., parent company of employee-owned Angeles Millwork & Lumber Company and Hartnagel Building Supply, for providing the wood for the sign at a reduced price.)