NAT / VISUAL ARTIST / ZURICH SWITZERLAND
Meet Nat. Like a boss, she moved alone to the U.S. six years ago and in a short time, learned English, made friends, studied at NYU, and developed a passion for production design and film. She’s an entrepreneur, a visual genius, just wrapped up a project working on a feature that James Franco produced, and oh yes, she’s absolutely blooming.
How will you bloom in the next year?
I am a production designer, photographer, and overall interdisciplinary artist. I'm going to bloom by focusing on making more art of my own because I've been doing a lot of client work and am now feeling ready to make more time to focus on some of my own projects. I have a solo installation in a gallery coming up in April that I am preparing for, I’m very excited about that to bloom.
How did you get into film and what types of products have you been proud of working on?
I'm from a quaint town in Switzerland originally and when I first came to New York I barely spoke English and knew no one. I found an outlet in visual art to process all of these new impressions and how I felt about leaving my life in Switzerland. I’ve always had a very high sensitivity to all that’s creativity and visual - I used to perform but my focus shifted to my visual strengths when I got here. I realized that I could integrate my interest in psychology, performance, and all that’s visual into one medium with film. I was never one to obsess over watching films, but then I started obsessing over making them. My education at NYU only emphasized this strong interest. In a working sense, production design kind of fell into my lap, and I realized that I’d always inherently practiced the requirements for all which that job entails, so it’s kind of a perfect fit.
What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
I just finished working on a feature that James Franco produced which was amazing because I was able to production design it and have my own crew. I found the role through a recommendation from someone I worked with on a different film and it was a fun project because I had a lot of creative control. I’ve been lucky to find it that fast because sometimes it takes a while when you are young to get people to trust you as an artist. I also recently photographed, produced and designed a fashion line, which was great. I love doing it all and being very hands-on. I would say working towards my art show is also one of my faves now as I have so much freedom to do what I think is important in my studio all day long.
Why are film and photography so important to you?
I have synesthesia which is a color sensitivity where I perceive colors for people and other things. For me, film and photography have always been very important because I'm extremely sensitive to what things look and feel like, but also what they could mean - I’m into metaphors and found that I could create visual metaphors with this medium. I think art is the best way of working through the tough things in life and it helps to let the unconscious out to understand life better. I believe in the mystical side of art, because you can look at and feel something that you don't necessarily know how to describe or analyze with your conscious mind. It’s an easy way to access your psyche, the hard part is dealing with your psyche once you’re in it. And then to have your words and message come through to yourself when you're done creating is kind of cool, because you are understanding what you're actually doing and why. You get to know yourself better.
Do you think your work can bring about change?
Absolutely. I believe that artistic work can bring about social and psychological change and always has done so. It’s often subtle and unconscious processes that are at work here. I'm a feminist and I want to empower women. I think it's very important to empower each other and not follow the trends that make women objects. That's been very important to me especially recently, when I’ve stood up against often being objectified, not only creatively but also consciously. For the shoot that I was just doing, we made sure to pick a model that was healthy. There are small things that we can do to help contribute to the progress.
Additionally I want to work to contribute to overall mental health. My art to me, means working through tough things, and I want to help other people who are working through tough things too, and inspire them to do so.
Can you tell me about an obstacle that you've overcome?
I moved to New York at 18 by myself and I didn’t know anyone which was something that was kind of nuts to do and I didn’t know it at the time. Through such a big move, I feel like I overcame the fear of starting anew but keeping my sense of self. I also overcame being scared of expressing myself authentically - through my look, my words and my actions.
I also have a very complicated family history of a family member with mental illness, so that's been a thing that I have been able to work through with art. Especially because there's so much in art about it, actually, and it was interesting once I made that connection and understood my own feelings and my own psyche better. Through art, I think I've understood my emotions and understood the world better.
do you have advice for people afraid to pursue art as a full-time career?
If I'm completely honest, I'm still afraid and I don't think that's ever going to go away, but that's ok. It’s ok to be scared and everyone is, not just artists. You have to start to embrace the fear and be okay with it. Because, yeah, life is scary! I think that you can have a corporate job and make a lot of money and still be very unhappy. So why not do something that makes you happy if it doesn't matter anyway? Yeah, not knowing when the next job is going to come your way is really scary. Always having a job is not necessarily what's going to make things okay however. I think it's very important to do what you love.
I have always liked doing things myself, so I've always been kind of a producer in that sense. Even though I don't necessarily like to do it all the time, I like the feeling in production design where I control the look of the set with the director and cinematographer for example. Art gives me this freedom. I like the independence of knowing what's happening in my life and feeling the sense of, "This is what I'm choosing to do."
lastly, what advice would you give to your teenage self?
Don’t be so worried. Trust that everything’s going to go the way it’s supposed to. Be present rather than always thinking about the future. Tune in and understand that you’re in the moment which will be very important for your work later on.