A Selection of Featured Artists & Friends

Meet an Artopian: Nathan Archer

Nathan ArcherHow has your artistic style changed over time?
My artistic style is constantly evolving and changing. I work in a variety of mediums and styles, depending on the intent of the piece as well as the audience. I was trained early on as a classic fine artist, working mainly in charcoal and graphite. In college I studied painting with a focus on abstract expressionism. Upon entering the “real world,” I transferred my composition and color skills over to graphic design, which then evolved into digital illustration. These days most of my work is done digitally on a tablet, though I relish every opportunity to get my hands dirty with traditional materials.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
There are so many amazing artists from such a wide variety of schools and genres that inspire me. I love the “brushiness” of Cézanne’s paintings, the softness of Rothko’s, and the power and depth of Gerhard Richter’s work. However, I also draw inspiration from cartoonists like Mort Drucker, Bill Patterson, R. Crumb, and Darwyn Cooke, as well as animators Chuck Jones and Ralph Bakshi. Tallahassee’s tight-knit artist community is also a wonderful daily source of inspiration.

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?
Like most artists (I’m willing to bet), I’m never quite satisfied with any of my finished pieces. Having said that, I’m probably most proud of my comic book anthology, Lydia Feeds the Pigeons, which I published from 2009 to 2014. Being able to hold a professionally printed comic that I produced was a life goal I was extremely excited to accomplish.

If you had one superpower, what would it be, and why?
I would love to be able to fly, hands down. I don’t consider myself a jealous person, save for when I see a bird in flight.

If you could meet one famous artist (alive or deceased), who would it be?
Although neither were famous for their art, I would have loved to spend some time talking with my maternal grandparents about their paintings before they passed. Both were such amazing artists; my grandmother painted soft pastoral scenes while my grandfather produced brushy coastal landscapes. Although neither had any formal training, both had such a great understanding of color and composition with the technical skills to match. I’ve always been curious why they chose to paint in their spare time, who their inspirations were, and whether they knew of other family members with an affinity for art.

Meet an Artopian: Ken Ifland

Kenneth IflandWhat is the best thing about making jewelry?
People have been adorning themselves with artwork/jewelry since we’ve been around. I just love the idea of wearable art.

Who is your favorite artist?
Vincent van Gogh, his self portraits and Starry Night are amazing.

What advice would you give to young artists?
Keep working if only for yourself.

What super power would you want?
Mind reading, sure would take the guess work out of a lot of things.

Is there life on other planets?
Someone told me that if you put the eraser end of a pencil up to the night sky you are covering up 1000 galaxies. It’s not a matter of if but how many and what or who.

Meet an Artopian: Joyce Pafford

Artopian Joyce PaffordWhy do you like to take photos?
I take great pride and joy in photographing. That through my nature and landscape photos I can show everyone how I view the world. My love for portraits is difficult to narrow down to just one “why”. There is so much satisfaction found when photographing that toothless six year old with their big smiles and bright eyes. The love the family shares with a newborn as I photograph them holding the miracle in their arms. Handing a mother the portrait of her high school graduate, those last memories of their child in cap and gown as they move on to a new venture in their lives and she cries with pride. Those moments, all of them both happy and sad, along with all the people I am honored to meet, these are just some of the reasons I love to take photos.

What is your biggest inspiration?
I find my inspiration in everything I see. My children, grandchildren, nature, and life itself are a few of the things that make me look at life differently. Each day brings a new inspiration.

Who is your favorite well-known photographer, and why?
I have two photographers that I admire, Sandy Puc and Benjamin Von Wong. Sandy Puc is a renowned photographer and I specifically find inspiration in her children’s photography. Sandy is a free spirit type who loves life and this you can see through her work. Benjamin Von Wong is a great photographer who doesn’t confine himself to one aspect of photography. He thinks outside the box, taking risks to get that one of a kind photograph.

What is your favorite place to travel to?
I love going to the beach to capture landscape photography. The beach is ever changing so you never know what you will find. Although the beach is my favorite there are many places that I plan to visit, there is so much to share with the world.

What is your favorite musical artist?
My music, like my art, reflects many aspects of my personality. Some of my favorites are Reba McEntire, Queen, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Adele, Pink just to name a few.

Learn more about Joyce’s work at her website,

Meet an Artopian: Mefore Aday

Artopian Mefore AdayWho or what inspired you to start painting?
I started making art as a child and dreamed of being like Dr. Seuss, an artist who made his weird paintings and earned his money by writing children’s books. I attended Memphis College of Art, with a focus in Ceramics, where my heart stayed happy and my hands stayed permanently dirty for three years. I started painting after I got out of art school, 11 years ago, because I did not have access to a kiln. I have been painting and sculpting for years now and I hope to continue to pursue both.

What is your favorite spot on Earth to think?
I think everywhere, all day. I have a very active imagination and I am always writing and drawing in my sketchbook. My favorite spot is where I don’t think. I love to surf, and sitting on the top of a surfboard in the ocean waiting for a beautiful wave to travel towards me so that I can stand up and ride for just a few seconds, is the best feeling in the world. The quietness and solitude that comes with surfing is like nothing else that I have ever experienced. Surfing is the only thing that I love more than being in my studio.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?
If I had a superpower, it would be the ability to not need sleep. I have so much energy and ideas, but not enough time in a day. I wish that my body didn’t need sleep and I could just keep going and going as my regular self. I love sleep though so maybe it could just be a treat and not so necessary!

What is your favorite album right now?
I am loving this Memphis girl Valerie June and her first big album “Pushing Against the Stone” is becoming very popular worldwide, mostly because it is so amazing!

How has art changed your life?
Art rules every aspect of my life. I have always felt fortunate to have always known what I want to do with my life, be a unique artist. I have never had any doubts. Art has made me a fighter, because as a child dreaming of being an artist, most adults tried to steer me in any other direction but the Studio Arts. I know they were trying to help, but my decision was made and I fought everyday to make my art. I still am fighting on a daily basis to make the Art that I want to make, and to show the world why I think it’s important to make.

Meet an Artopian: Linda Van Beck

artopian_linda_vanbeckWhen did you first start painting and why?
At the age of nine, my father started painting. Tools, paint, books, magazines and his art collection were all available.

What do you try to communicate with your art?
Through art I try to communicate my daily contact with nature.

What artist inspires your work the most?
I have a ritual which includes cleaning the studio, music, clippings, writing until I get excited about a subject and the way to present it.

If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
Fly over mountains, new views.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given, about art or life?
At the age of 12, surrounded by a small Canadian town, a woman gave me this advice: There are 2 things you can do in life: You can give dictation or you can take it.

Meet an Artopian: Eric Sapronetti

Artopian Eric SapronettiWhy did you start painting?
Creative energy has always been with me as I can remember making drawings and paintings since I was a child. I continued working in artistic mediums throughout adulthood, but it was not until my kids were fully grown that I was able to really settle down and develop my painting style.

What do you love about painting nature?
Because I enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, and a variety of other outdoor pursuits, I am constantly surrounded by elements that stimulate my imagination. Painting is another way, I have found, of appreciating and interacting with the natural world.

If you could paint one album cover, what would it be and by which artist?
“Wherever you are” by Third Day… wonderfully spiritual songs on this album that speak to people right where they are.

What is your favorite color?
Teal (blue-green) – and you see a lot of it in my work!

Why have you supported Big Bend Cares?
Using art in support of a great cause is extremely validating for me as an artist. Since I see art as wonderfully therapeutic for myself, using it in support of helping in the healing process for others seems a natural extension.

Learn more about Eric’s work at his website.

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