Nearly five years ago, I ventured to Jamestown, North Dakota for an artist in residence. It was not long before I crossed path with ceramic artist Bill Nybo. I was impressed by Bill's energetic work ethic, positive attitude and the endless whimsical works of art he was creating. This year, I decided to ask him for an interview and he was nice enough to let me sit down and ask him a few questions about his work.
I pulled up a chair in the ceramic studio while he was sculpting away at what I think was a giraffe. Here's what he had to say:
WH: When did you get started as an artist? Where are you from?
Bill Nybo: I had a job at the UND art department (work study) for $1.25 on hour making glazes. I got to learn how to make glazes. I didn't think I was going to get into it. I took a few aptitude tests and scored really high in art. But, I was interested in helping people. I was doing social work. Yet, I had a bug in me. I decided to take a pottery class with a really great UMD teacher. I really liked it. Once I had time I got back into pottery. I was always doodling. It was an art therapy class that allowed me to become artist. It helped me not compared my work with other people.
I am from Grafton, North Dakota. Northwest of Grandforks.
WH: What mediums do you work in?
Bill Nybo: Pottery. I draw with prismacolors. Every 1 or 2 years I'll pull out the watercolors. And PVC/ fimo clay (samples in photo below).
WH: What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
Bill Nybo: Good question. I'm not so sure about my goal. There is a process I am involved with. For me, it is about the process. The two things that makes an artist:
1. decide you are one
2. work at it diligently
WH: In your ceramic works where do you get your inspiration?
Bill Nybo: My ceramics instructor (at UMD) never made thin things; she made squat stuff. I make squat stuff. Reality is too much work. I just go for whimsy. I like whimsy. I want people to laugh at my work. I like to laugh. I like to bring a smile to people's face.
WH: Your whimsical illustrations are also great, they remind me of Keith Haring and Matisse. What artists have inspired you as an artist?
Bill Nybo: It's hard to credit anyone with inspiration for my work. I can credit my interest in art to Jackson Pollock. Before I was into art a friend asked me to go to an art exhibit, I said "well it's too early to get drunk," and decided to go. It was a show of 3000 drawings by Jackson Pollock. Pollock didn't like to talk much. So he drew these drawing for his psychologist, who would analyze them. He didn't like to talk, he liked to draw. He taught me art is evocative. And to push things into art. Like mood. Mood can effect my work.
WH: Do you have advice for other artists trying to find their way?
Bill Nybo: Talk to people. Be willing to try something different. Don't be afraid of failure. Look at Van Gogh, he was very prolific, and only sold one work his entire life.
WH: Lastly, where does one purchase or find Dr. Bill Nybo artworks?
Bill Nybo: Contact me directly, I'll make something for you. 701-659-1578. Or at the Kirkpatrick Gallery, at the Frontier Village in Jamestown, North Dakota. Open during the summer.
WH: Thanks for the time Bill. Your hard work and energy is very inspiring, and the artwork is really wonderful. Keep up the good work.