Indy Artist Nathaniel Russell Gives the World a Gift

The proceeds from his line of T-shirts with the new print “Resist Fear, Assist Love” benefit nonprofits, and he’s kept the design copyright-free and available for anyone to reuse. Here, Russell reflects on the work he’s produced around Indianapolis and the world for the last two decades.
Nathaniel Russell

This post originally appeared on The Campus Citizen.

Facebook, Vans, and Luna Records have one thing in common: They’ve hired Indianapolis artist Nathaniel Russell to create for them. Using thick lines, imperfect shapes, and simple colors, Russell produces accessible and inviting pieces that people can quickly connect with.

The 40-year-old artist’s work has gained him respect and art shows all over the world, and the love of It’s Nice That, a London-based design, art, and culture blog. The site has ran 10 features on his work, and one of the more fawning headlines is, “We love you Nat Russell. Let’s get married and move to the woods!” Russell has also been featured in Vice, Juxtapoz, and The Huffington Post.

Almost everyone in Indianapolis should be familiar with Russell’s work, even if they didn’t realize it. The large cutout people with the words “we,” “us,” and “all” at the corner of Michigan Street and Mass Ave. is one of the best examples of Russell’s public art. Russell’s work was also part of the Art Assignment show at Gallery 924, including a piece with the words “witches: we need you” written across the top.

Russell has worked in Copenhagen for the CPH Open, a skateboard competition, he has designed decks and shirts for Element skateboards, he painted some of the ramps in the Vans Pro Skate Park Series in Huntington Beach, California. He has done work for The New York Times, created shirts for Indy’s Luna Records on Record Store Day, and participated in Facebook’s artist-in-residence program, and creating on the company’s campus for a month. His art has been shown from Indianapolis, to California, to New York, to Paris. Russell has designed countless tour posters and record sleeves for multiple bands. His style is seemingly simple and easy.

“It’s taken a lot of work to make it look really easy,” Russell said. “I want things to be really accessible. Just a line can mean a lot. It’s not something you can explain. There’s a level of unconscious connection from human to human. It’s beyond speech.”

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