Nov 09, 2012 4:35PM

Nick Thomm Interview

We speak with the Melbourne-based digital artist.

Nick Thomm's artwork feels like a mind-warping trip through a psychedelic black hole. The Melbourne-based artist welds historic icons with the digital world in a radical meltdown of new meets old. Nick is a resourceful character — alongside having just run his first solo exhibition, he also runs a graphic design studio and is co-founder of new magazine, SRC783. We caught up with the 24-year-old artist.

Hi Nick, congratulations on your first solo exhibition!
Thanks! It was pretty mental, a lot of work really in a short amount of time, but it felt good.

Were you always making art as a kid or were you really into computers?
When I was little I was always making things, but I never thought it was art. I looked at some of my childhood drawings a while ago — they are pretty funny! My dad is real into computers, I remember when we got one of the first Mac's ever and I'd always play this rad game called Commander Keen, but that was the extent of it.

What do you like about mixed media?
At first it was just me blending my art and design influences. But now, I think it's more about being involved in a medium that's new. With the merge of digital and traditional art forms it's a chance to show people things they haven't seen before.

A lot of the pieces incorporate iconic/historic elements...
I really like referencing things that people have some understanding of, and then distorting that understating in a way that's completely different to how they originally perceived it. It forces people to be involved in the artwork and it changes how they see things. I referenced lots of the Greek gods for Monochrome — there's Bacchus, Venus, Apollo, Hera and Zeus. Then the Warp series focuses on royalty figures from the Renaissance. Throughout the show there are some other references to computer games like Doom, fashion and vintage advertising.

What do you think Bacchus, Venus, Apollo and the others would say if they could see what you create with technology?
They would freak out! They probably wouldn't like it because it's changing the original context and meaning. But most people don't like change and this way it's forced upon them. Change keeps things new.

It's a pretty psychedelic colour palette.
It's weird. When I'm doing graphic design I always want to make everything black and white. So I think when I make art, I want to do the opposite. That combined with the historical references kind of turn it into some crazy mind-bending acid trip.

So you have a creative studio called The Drop. I heard you called it that because you dropped out of uni...
That's actually true [laughs]. I didn't think many people knew that, but yeah. I had always wanted to call a magazine The Drop, for different reasons. Then one day, during the time I was trying to decide on a name for the studio, a friend called me a drop out. And I was just like, 'That's it!'

Do you think it's true that you get more out of hands-on experience than text books?
Not having someone leaning over your shoulder telling you that there is a right or wrong way to do something gives you a pretty unique view on things. Sure, maybe you learn faster when someone directs you, but in the end if all you're doing is learning from someone else's experiences then you are just going to end up where they are. Deep, I know!

Tempe Nakiska

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