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“Hmmm, I mean, my life is art. It really does consume me.”

Meet Nick Dahlen. Nick lives in Minneapolis and loves to paint. The craft is in his blood.

With an artist father and a grandmother whose house was filled with trippy art and giraffe sculptures, it’s only right the creator started on a similar trail of exploration.

When Nick isn’t splashing colours, he’s rollerblading around town taking pictures or burying his head in record sleeve designs. Nick’s artistic inspiration springs from bits and pieces of Monday through Sunday. “Usually the scenes are just things I see when I’m out and about but then there’s some where I combine random objects that are just floating around in my head into those scenes.”

The work spilling from the creator’s mind is wholesome. Be it heartwarming instances of human connection, scrumptious foods or elements of nature – Nick captures the simple strikingly. He reminds us of the magic in our day-to-day. Like a juicy bite of an apple, a beautiful hug from a friend or a bash on a drum kit.

“It’s really just appreciating everything. Life in general. I focus on what I find are the better things, those that bring me the most joy.”

The paintings are abstract, playful and larger than life. Nick brings colour with impact, art that leaps off its surface. There’s something memorably groovy about the contrast between his use of rich colours offset by charcoal-like shadow. Nick’s art first breathes life through watercolour, photography and coloured pencils. Only his most favourable doodles make it to the canvas.

When asked about his most treasured work, Nick’s response is straight as an arrow. “I’ve always been drawn to this one I did of a mother holding her baby. I dunno why I just think I did a really good job on it.” The piece is gorgeous. Although capturing such a touching moment, it’s interesting to hear Nick’s love for it lies more in its execution.

Praise is something the Minneapolis native is still getting used to. He still bugs out when people hit him up eager to collaborate. “It’s the coolest feeling ever, like what the fuck I’m just some guy and there’s some random kid on the other side of the world inspired to make art from my pieces.”

I ask Nick what sort of advice he’d give these kids.  “Starting out it’s ok to copy other people’s styles, that’s how you learn. I think a lot of young artists try to make it right out the jump and don’t take the time to slow down and focus on their own individual style.”

Some may recoil at this statement but I’m all for it. He’s right. Just like babies, artists must first mirror those around them. Nick implores fledgling artists not to be shy in recreating the things they see hanging in galleries. It’s through this very process they can find their uniqueness.

One thing’s for sure – Nick Dahlen’s found his.


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