3 Artists Who Inspire My Thinking

While I’m known around Nomadic as an Account Director, what fewer people know about me is I am also an art lover and museum fiend. Seriously, I will go to, like, any museum—from contemporary or neoclassical art to medical history. As an art history minor (read: nerd), I often think about how I respond to art and how it relates to my life, work, and wellbeing. Here, I’ll take you through some of my favorite artists who have inspired me to think differently and expand my approach to situations. 


Ragnar Kjartansson

Ragnar Kjartansson | The Visitors, 2012

Ragnar Kjartansson | The Visitors, 2012

Performance art can definitely be a bit on the bizarre side. But when I first stumbled into “The Visitors” by Ragnar Kjartansson at SFMOMA, I was captivated. So captivated that I made a point to see it a few months later at The Broad in LA. I will do my best to describe the experience and how it impacted me, but I recommend this in-depth recap from The Washington Post if it piques your interest. 

“The Visitors” is an installation of nine huge projection screens and accompanying speakers. In this work, Kjartansson enlisted his friends to perform a song in unison, each member of the group located in a different room of a large upstate New York home. About an hour in length, most of the performance is a repetition of Kjartansson’s short song, an ode to a past relationship. What struck me was, through the repetition, I was able to take time and look at the detail and nuances of each individual performance and how they joined together in a masterful orchestra. 

Key Takeaway: Repetition is a great way to find new ways of interpretation. When work is great (whether it’s art or advertising), experiencing it again and again doesn’t make it dull, but rather more interesting. That’s when the layers are revealed. For Nomadic, our multiple review processes throughout a project provide that opportunity to continue to push the work to be the best—we call it our pursuit of better. Perhaps one of the most beneficial implementations of repetition that I’ve experienced recently is practicing our new business pitches with an internal rehearsal. The same presentation feels different—better—every time we deliver it, and by the time we share it with our client, we are confident it’s solid. 


Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko | The Rothko Room, Tate Museum

Mark Rothko | The Rothko Room, Tate Museum

To no surprise to many who know my taste, Mark Rothko is one of my favorites. I remember visiting my student exchange family in England and going to the Tate Modern when I was a junior in high school. I went specifically to see the Kahlo exhibit and accidentally found myself in the Rothko Room—filled with huge, velvety red canvases. It brought me to tears, and I spent an hour or more sitting quietly in front of these massive works, simply absorbing their power. 

To a lot of people, Rothko’s work is little more than shapes on a canvas. But when you take some time to view them in person and learn more about his approach, you realize the thought and intention that goes into these simple shapes. Since Rothko was famously secretive about his techniques, the art world doesn’t exactly know how he created these rich, ephemerally layered paintings that look to many to have 3D floating elements. What we do know is that it was complex. He was mixing paints with organic matter and chemicals to create different transparencies and drying times that resulted in the famed end products. 

Key Takeaway: Sometimes the simplest, most straightforward approaches have deep planning and execution behind them. I am constantly in awe of Nomadic’s creative approach that boils down our strategy and input into something that just…works. The creative is digestible and accessible, but behind it is immense effort and craft. Don’t underestimate simplicity. Often there is complexity and a foundation of strategic and creative layers.


Claude Monet

Claude Monet | The Water Lily Pond, 1912

Claude Monet | The Water Lily Pond, 1912

Ok, Claude Monet and I share a birthday, so I was practically forced to love his Impressionist style from a very early age. Actually, I still have a series of children’s fiction books about this young girl who spends time in Monet’s Giverny garden. I was essentially brainwashed as a child. 

We’ve all seen, in various iterations, Monet’s many water lily paintings. But when you look particularly at his later works, when he was losing his vision, that’s where you see a different approach that sticks with you. The scale and size (sometimes close to 50 feet) of these paintings provides a distinct viewing experience. Up close, they seem to be a textured, jumbled mess. But, when you step back, you’re able to see the full “impression” of what the artist was originally viewing. The movement, mood, and emotion of the scene are captured in the intentional brushstrokes and layers. 

Key Takeaway: It’s important to take a step back, get out of the details, and look at the big picture. Particularly in our field, we can get bogged down in the weeds, even hitting that dreaded “spiral” of the complexities of our projects and all the outside forces weighing on the work. Regrounding ourselves in the big picture can often help us reorient ourselves to the work, loosen the harness we can place on our creativity, and allow us to refocus our efforts on executing in the most effective way possible.