Local Spotlight: Nick Beery – When Arts CollidePosted by Jessica Kaminski
Music and visual art have always been closely intertwined. They exist in a symbiotic space that channels creativity into a synergistic expansion of expression. While music and visual arts thrive in a concerted parallel, there are often times when their paths diverge and sight and sound collide. One artist in particular has staked a claim in the middle of that intersection — Nick Beery.
Nick Beery, also known as Beery Method, answered the call of the Seattle’s siren song after graduating college with a Bachelor of Fine Art degree. Lured by the breathtaking landscape and the creative community, Beery quickly became a fixture on the Seattle art scene. He is still a local chap, but his work has him splitting time between a trifecta of great cities: Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.
Formally trained in fine art, Nick strikes an insightful balance between street art and more classical approaches. He is a passionate advocate for the arts and is embedded within the creative communities in all three of the cities he works. This community involvement has led to numerous opportunities to collaborate with musicians to create visual pieces that help tell the story beyond the music. Crafting a visual element helps to open the door for a deeper understanding of the musician’s artistic intention and the potential for emotional connection to the work is heightened. Nick has worked closely with a plethora of musicians ranging from Stone Temple Pilots to singer songwriters and hip hop artists. It is obvious that Beery is passionate about existing in the crossroads where art and music intersect.
Mr. Beery carved some time out of his busy schedule to chat with SSG about music, art, and the challenges both musicians and visual artist face. The pressing challenges facing the visual art world closely mirror the discourse surrounding music sharing and downloading . When Beery finished school he headed down the path of freelance illustration. During that time stock companies like Getty Images and iStockphoto, were exploding. (These are the visual equivalents of services like iTunes and Spotify.) The result was a comodification of art. Beery commented, “It was great for the companies and businesses that relied on visuals to promote and advertise. But it was destroying what was happening on the traditional side of the freelance world…not just fine arts, but commercial artists. The standards were decomposing on how artists were compensated.”
To adapt to the changing status quo Beery put his creativity to work. He expanded his range and diversified his skills. He started doing photography, product design, and working with apparel companies —all skills that compliment working with bands and brands. This diversity has positioned Beery in a place where he can be selective about what clients he takes on. Beery’s work is always personal. Because of this, he is discerning in his collaborations.
At first blush this might sound arrogant, it’s not. His personal investment in all his work drives him to be choosy about collaborations — ensuring both parties artistic vision is accurately represented and respected. He sees every album cover as an experiment, saying “I like to view the musicians as a participant in that experiment…it is a catalyst for me to create visual art that is vastly different from what I have done before.” His criteria for collaborations are grounded in a desire for stretching boundaries and creating artistically satisfying work. In Beery’s words “…collaboration is key. When it is all done you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the people who have put their blood, sweat and tears into the project.” This desire to push the envelope with creative alliances has found Beery working with a bevy of established and emerging artists—working beyond the album art to create a visual experience that helps to tell the whole story of the music. Recent collaborations have included Space Was Cool and Mike Surber.
Beery didn’t establish a strong philosophy without strong influences guiding his craft. When asked about music and album artwork that inspires him, Beery cited Pink Floyd as having an effect on him during his formative years. Particularly, Beery cites Wish You Were Here as an impeccable specimen of art complimenting music. The juxtaposition of the photography with the vinyl listening experience is something that remains a poignant homage to the intersection of art and music 37 years after its release.
Posessing an articulate esthetic and a definitive point of view, Nick Beery will continue to be an artist to follow. His work is constantly evolving as he seeks out new projects and builds an engaged community around the arts. From his current project, Coalesce Studios, in Chicago to his San Francisco solo show opening in early August, Beery is constantly growing as an artist. Regardless of which inspired direction he embarks, it is certain he will remain firmly rooted at the creative crossroads of music and art.