If you live in the greater Grand Rapids area, odds are you’ve already seen some of Nick Nortier’s work, whether you've realized it or not. His murals seem to appear everywhere you look downtown, his prints can be found in various shops, and his style and subjects are instantly recognizable.
Nortier, also known as Old Growth Creative, is primarily an illustrator, mural painter, and print maker but also enjoys woodworking, performing spoken word poetry, and the overall process of making creative work. His work can be seen at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, the new 555 Monroe North skatepark, 20 Monroe Live, Brewery Vivant, Condado Tacos, the DAAC’s new location, and various UICA project locations, just to name a few. Themes of organic life, growth, creatures, and skating abound in his work.
Nortier explains that “growing up, his main interests were skating and drawing, two hobbies which would eventually merge into one. From skating, he learned to look at the environment in new and creative ways, which would end up influencing how his work interacts with the area that it’s placed in. He believes the role of street art and murals is to be an art form that is accessible to everyone.”
Nortier was a valuable resource, helping The Stray when we began working on Phase I of our own location’s mural by providing “best practice” advice for creating large-scale outdoor paintings that are made to last. He’s been a household name and Stray favorite here ever since!
In the last year Nortier has a taken a deep dive into printmaking, exploring its possibilities and what he can create through its medium more than ever before. Many of his pieces feature repeat content, manipulated and presented in new ways. Certain elements like his beautifully illustrated foliage or his “MIGRATION IS NOT A CRIME” skateboard are mainstays. His screen print work is made on both wood and french paper. New pieces keep coming out and are available for purchase through his website.
“Keep making art and lift each other up!
Thank you to The Stray for doing exactly that!” – Nick Nortier
HOT TAKE QUESTIONS:
The Stray: “In 40 years what will people be nostalgic for?”
Nortier: “I think people will be nostalgic for the time when the max HP on a Pokémon card was 120; these new cards are ridiculous! Also, I think people will be nostalgic for the beginning of cryptocurrency. If you’re not in it, you should be.”
The Stray: “What quarantine hobby have you taken up?”
Nortier: “Right before the pandemic started, I ran into a good friend of mine and we were catching up, just talking about everyday life when she skipped past the pleasantries and told me honestly how much I mean to her as a friend. It was pretty deep and I was kinda fighting back tears. She was talking about how important it is to lift each other up and let each other know that we appreciate them, because little things like that can go a long way. I don’t know if this is necessarily a hobby, but it’s something I’ve been trying to be more conscious of and make a habit. She performs poetry under the name Kyd Kane, is the current Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, and is an all-around inspiring person who has had a profound positive impact on myself and the Grand Rapids (and beyond) artistic community.”
Follow Nick Nortier on Instagram (@OldGrowthCreative) to stay up to date with his projects, and visit his website to see all of his previous work. There’s a ton more we didn’t have space to mention here; it’s definitely worth checking out!