The Far Out World According to Andy Nortnik

They say behind every great man is an inspiring, supportive and incredible woman. If you ask Andy Nortnik, a andy-nortniktrue retro artist with an endless source of talent, you’ll hear him give his wife credit for the success he’s found as a freelance artist – and to call it “success” seems so inadequate for the talent behind the name. You’ll also hear him say he has no regrets about leaving the lucrative private sector in search of opportunities to really delve into his passions, “…it wasn’t as hard as you might think.” Still, it was a leap of faith, especially when you’re looking at his impressive resume: a senior artist for a Fortune 100 company – MCI/WordCom, an art director for Arthur Andersen Consulting and a production artist for an ad agency. Still, in 2000, back when words like “housing market crash” and “fiscal cliff” were never even mumbled, Andy Nortnik made that crucial decision to leave the excruciatingly long days at the office behind. It’s a dream most can relate to, but only few rarely ever see come full circle. 

If he was worried about leaving the private sector, complete with the prestigious employers, he was about to realize another fact that few are ever made privy to: living your passion, when you’re good, is the true foundation for success. And that’s probably about the time he realized that his wife knew it all along. Her faith was well-placed, indeed.  No longer was he working a job that felt like a burden; these days, he was chasing those dreams, catching them and then allowing them to serve as the foundation for his own version of the popular Fluxus Movement, reminiscent of the late 1950s and into the early 1960s. This artistic movement was defined simply as the absence of boundaries.

Soon, clients were flocking to him, sure that he was born a generation too late. No one so young has been able to recreate the senses, energy or even mindset of those who lived through the fantastic 50s. And don’t make the mistake of assuming his works are scans of images created during that decade; his work is all original. His inspiration is as pure as it comes, just as is his art manages to capture the essence – the vibrancy – of the times.

George Brecht, a conceptual artist who was as respected as an artist can be, said in the late 1950s:

In Fluxus there has never been any attempt to agree on aims or methods; individuals with something unnamable…have simply naturally coalesced to publish and perform their work. Perhaps this common thing is a feeling that the bounds of art are much wider than they have conventionally seemed, or that art and certain long established bounds are no longer very useful.

Nortnik personifies that concept and you see it in his art. While the rest of the world’s graphic artists focus on the latest Paint Shop brushes, Andy looks to the past for his inspiration. Those were the simpler days when traditions ruled, good manners were synonymous with a proper upbringing and the beauties out of  Hollywood didn’t come with addictions and immaturity. Cowboys were rock stars and starlets were a bit more proper, at least in the public eye. The 1950s are still magical; even those younger generations who haven’t lived enough to even feel nostalgia can appreciate the era.

Andy has found a way to combine the latest in technology with his passion for retro and  vintage art work. The result is a collection of magnificent digital images – all of which are his own designs.

For anyone who grew up during the 1980s, there’s a common ribbon of bittersweet familiarity that flows through our veins. When we want to feel young again, we break out those cassettes of Tina Turner, REO Speedwagon and maybe even Bon Jovi and we allow ourselves to climb right back into the mindset of who we were then. Ah, but when we’re looking for that comfort, the safer realties of our past, we go even further back; back to a time that existed long before we were even born. We break out the DVDs of The Andy Griffith Show or any of the Lucille Ball classics. Rocking out with the hair bands screaming from the old scratchy cassette tapes allows us to feel reckless, or as reckless as a forty-something can be dancing awkwardly around the living room; but for comfort, we dig a bit deeper and travel a bit further into the past.

Nortnik says his work allows him to live “vicariously through nostalgic illustrations”. It’s funny that his clients say the same thing: his work also allows them to live vicariously through his nostalgic illustrations.

His website is chock full of those retro images. The attention to detail is flawless and the spectacular hues and shadows are nothing short of gorgeous. With plenty of World War II pin up girls, those vintage artistic efforts towards western art and the cowboys who roamed the countryside and a generous supply of the fonts and matte color combinations, Andy Nortnik has raised the bar for all things digital art.

All of his work is for sale, most available as instant downloads. His clip art collections incorporate Pantone Matching System colors, a modern assurance that the art is as crisp as the images one sees on his computer screen. Many clients purchase his clipart with the goal of incorporating a 1950s inspired theme into their home décor choices; others have ideas of a great facelift for the websites. Whatever their reasons, his first time visitors have become long-term clients and in the end, isn’t that really what defines success?

These days, Nortnik continues to enjoy the success his freelancing efforts bring. He’s also in the process of launching another business, this time, the focus is on custom made metal sculpture and lighting pieces. It’s groovy, man.

For more information on Andy Nortnik and his freelance business or to browse his portfolio and purchase his work, start with his Clip Art collection. You can also follow him on Twitter @clip_art.


The Beat Generation

As a writer, I’m always interested in those famous, and sometimes infamous, authors who paved the way for all those ambitious writers who would follow.  The Beat Generation is best described as a movement in the late 1950s that went against the grain in terms of mainstream values and traditions and led by such authors as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.  Many believe it’s not as iconic as the next decade with its rallies and movements.  Still, what few realize is the Beat Generation paved the way for freedom of speech rights that were, in many times during the 1950s and 60s, debated and possibly even jeopardized.  

The Beat Generation is also known for its rebels and those who chose to experiment not only with illegal drugs, but with alternative sexual preferences as well.  But this brief time in history is so much more. Because of this group of authors who were determined to ensure freedom of speech rights were applicable for the written word, we’re now free to write whatever we please with no fear or concerns over being sued.  Of course, slanderous or libel content as well as plagiarism are off limits, as they should be, but we don’t have to live in fear over what we choose to include on our bookshelves, even it’s not someone else’s cup of tea.

Saturday marked the 52nd anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s release of “On the Road”.  Its main character, Sal Paradise, crosses the country and discovers drugs, sex and other underground activities.  This was certainly risque for the 1950s and even more surprising is Kerouac wrote this novel in just three short weeks.