Nick Baxter. A name that almost needs no introduction within the tattoo industry, as both his peers and clients view him with the highest esteem and respect. Nick is one of those exceptional artists who is able to encapsulate profundity and passion into every project he immerses himself into.
Step inside the mesmerizing "World of Baxter" and you will find expressive and emotional paintings, highly conceptualized tattoo work, a wealth of food for thought on intriguing subjects; and best of all, a genuine and considerate guy.
Known for his painterly tattoo style, Baxter weaves realism and imagination together in a grand way. You will find all sorts of themes while browsing through his portfolio: from politically-charged pieces, to surreal nature and animal imagery; furniture, biomechanical abstracts, fantastical food motifs; and so much more.
Nick’s foundation in art began with his creative family surroundings and continued to grow as he grew. As a senior in high school, he was granted a spot in the Visual Arts Department at the Educational Center for the Arts, which was a magnet school in New Haven, Connecticut. Next, he attended the Paier College of Art and became interested in many mediums at this time, including tattooing.
A tattoo artist for nearly nine years now, Baxter has made a name for himself as he has combined his formal art training with his thought-provoking body art designs and technical precision.
Much to the delight of tattoo collectors in the Southwestern United States, Nick moved to Austin, Texas from Connecticut, in 2008. Not that being regional is a necessity though - ink enthusiasts travel from all over the world to collect Baxter’s work and closely watch his travel schedule in hopes of reserving an appointment.
An accomplished painter, Nick’s work makes use of symbolism and intrinsic ideas to get the viewer thinking. His upcoming 2010 Rebuilding exhibit*, alongside artist Fred Harper, at the Last Rites Gallery in New York City, will offer art aficionados an intriguing glimpse inside Baxter’s visceral mind.
*See below for a sneak peek promo of some of Nick's work for the Rebuilding show
In addition to his dedication to art, this multi-talented man is commited to a vegan, straight-edge lifestyle and anarchist ideals. His focus on educating the mind and sharing information with others is prevalent on his website, with great reference links to the aforementioned topics, as well as: psychology, Choice Theory, DIY information, environmentalism, hardcore music and much more.
It was a great pleasure to talk to Nick and take a peek inside his ingenious mind. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did.
There are so many elements to your tattoo work that are inspiring. Your blending of organic components and textures within a realistic setting, makes your artwork quite distinctive. How do you think your style developed and arrived at the point it is at now?
Thank you. My overall style of artwork hasn’t changed much since childhood. I just think that my technical ability and vision has expanded. For example, some of my earliest artistic fascinations were the highly detailed, realistic illustrations by artists like Graeme Base and Bev Doolittle, and my great aunt was a talented wildlife artist.
Growing up, I went through various phases of interest, but almost always the phases centered around representational art and accurately drawing what I saw in the world, as opposed to imagined worlds in my mind or something like that.
I ended up attending an art college which specialized in traditional realism oil painting, and that really set me on my current artistic path. So I guess, not surprisingly, my work today is something approaching photorealism. You might say highly-rendered, technically-precise representations of convincing illusions.
When you sit down to begin a painting, where do you draw inspiration from? Just how does Nick Baxter's mind produce so many intriguing and captivating creations?
My first inspirations are always emotional. Usually whatever I’m feeling at the time that presents an urge to be expressed, exorcised from my system, if you will.
My personal art is very psychological, even when it addresses social or political issues or makes broader statements about the world. There are still always multiple layers of meaning involved, with some sort of underlying emotional subtext drawn from my own personal struggles or triumphs.
How do the ethical and lifestyle choices you have made in your life, such as straight edge, veganism, and anarchism benefit your work? Do you see ties between these foundations and your accomplishments?
My lifestyle choices and accomplishments are absolutely related. Not everyone’s success is so closely tied to their lifestyle choices but that’s how it’s been for me, personally.
I was a real mess in my teens and without the strong ethical foundations I’ve built for myself, especially Straight Edge, I’m not sure I’d even be here today, let alone accomplishing anything noteworthy to others.
I feel that my mental clarity, intelligence, perception and willpower are all benefited by my choice to remain completely sober and drug-free. It’s forced me to continually work on, and work with, my own mind in order to handle life’s problems and struggles; and there’s an extremely grounding and unshakable truth in that. Meaning, I have a much truer sense of who I am and where I stand, unclouded by interference or dependence. Therefore, I trust my experiences as unmediated, and my accomplishments are sincere acts of self because they aren’t propped up by any kind of chemical crutch or facade.
The politics of straight edge or sober living can be a touchy subject for a lot of people, so I need to say here that none of what I just wrote is meant to sound preachy or arrogant, and I respect others who make different lifestyle choices than I. It’s just something I feel strongly about for myself, that I know has done myself and others a lot of good, so I make sure to represent it with pride whenever I’m asked.
What one word best describes you? What one word best describes your work?
Intense? For better or for worse, hopefully and begrudgingly, that seems to be what comes to mind at the moment…subject to change, of course.
I have a hard time with that question…I try to embrace the Buddhist notion of ‘no self,’ of just being, instead of being something.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming tattoo artists?
Don’t look for shortcuts for hard work, sacrifice, dedication, patience, vision, and talent. This industry is growing to new heights rapidly, bringing with it a flood of advancements and talent in recent years, and new comers shouldn’t be seduced by visions of instant fame and easy success brought about by our convenience-based culture.
Above all, be sincere in what you do - truly give a shit. Pursue your art as if it were the highest stakes. Because if art is really your life’s passion, your personal mission, then there actually are no higher stakes, and naturally you will succeed - there is no other option.
What is your favorite sweet treat?
Anything chocolate! Especially raw chocolate treats and desserts.
- Opening Reception is February 6, 2010.
- Here is a sneak peak at some of Nick's enthralling paintings which will be on exhibit.
- All pieces shown are 12" x 12" - Oil on Panel.