Interview with ‘(Sub)Urban’ Artist Nick Satinover

This is the fourth installment of the (Sub)Urban artist interview series. (Sub)Urban features work by Amze Emmons, Yoonmi Nam, Benjamin Rogers, Nick Satinover, Christine Buckton Tillman, and Sang-Mi Yoo.

Nick Satinover | Artist  | Exhibiting in (Sub)Urban from October 30 through December 16, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Tasiana Paolisso


n satinover

Beginning with some background, where are you from and what first got you into art?

I am a native of Dayton, Ohio, where  I grew up as the son of an artist.  My father holds a BFA and MFA in painting, but never pursued a career as an artist or academic.  He entered the business world, but still maintained a healthy painting practice which continues to this day.  All this is to say, I grew up in a house full of original paintings, going to museums, being supported fully in my eccentricities as a young lad who wanted to record songs and draw.  I thought I’d be a musician, but can see in hindsight I am far more driven to the solitary activity of recording as opposed to playing for people.  Art making is sort of this way too, a private activity which has a public presentation at its logical goal.
What drove you to study art and then go on to teaching students?
I began my academic journey with a computer science scholarship, which I parlayed into graphic design coursework.  After a few years of skipping classes and hanging out I decided to transfer to Wright State University and switch into studio art.  This decision was greatly informed by my father’s pathway.  I had great high school art faculty who encouraged me quite a bit also, so it made sense even though I didn’t consider it too much at the time.  After bumbling through my foundations classes I encountered printmaking.  After that first class with Jon Swindler at WSU I realized my pathway was printmaking and an academic career (I thought doing what Jon did seemed great).  It when then that I quit playing in bands, began spending all my time in the printshop and got super serious about school and showing my work.  I was awarded a Yeck fellowship through the Dayton Art Institute where I was given the opportunity to teach high school students and this confirmed my desire to pursue academia.  Grad school and jobs followed.
You focus on the ideas of memory and place in your work, what drew you to these concepts?
When I started putting together my first conceptually driven works as an undergrad, I was really attracted to the narratives of my wife’s family and their town.  They live in West Alexandria, OH, a town of about 5,000 near the Indiana border.  They are several generations of tenant farmers and factory workers and are the most earnest and hard working people I know.  I was attracted to the idea of production and labor, of the factory making parts which worked together as a whole.  This concept is still at work for me as I make prints which are copies, single component pieces that combine into a whole.  I was attracted to these concepts because I felt guilty about studying art and spending time making pictures.  Printmaking required an incredible amount of labor to create a finished product and it felt like work (heck I even used big machines like my in-laws).  In terms of space and place, to me there is no better way to discuss people than to examine their environment.  It is full of contrast and duality, past and present, and these are things which I think define our existence.
Are there any particular artists, art movements, or other concepts that inspire your current work, or your art overall?
I still look to the work of Josef Albers and other color theorists for inspiration.  Seeing how context affects color, which creates a schism between what we experience and what we know to be true is very interesting to me.  I am inspired quite a bit by writers; Raymond Carver’s short stories and the poems of William Carlos Williams.  These are guys who examine the mundane and present it in the most profound ways.  Williams’ line “there are no ideas but in things” makes a lot of sense to me — it validates my examination of the environment and the potential for the everyday to be arresting.
Are there any other mediums of artwork that you also work in?
I do quite a bit of home recording in addition to image making.  I recently recorded an album’s worth of improvised songs and sound during the month of August 2017. I completed this project by creating an edition of 50 cd-rs with a fold out screenprint poster and sleeve.  To me, tracking sounds and instruments is a lot like creating plates and layers within a print… it requires precise registration and if you pan the tracks you can simultaneously hear part and whole.  One element comes after the other.  I also do quite a bit of collaging with cut-off pieces from editioned print works.  Both of these two “side projects” are ways to work from home without a printshop.  Finally, I make very quick zines (booklets) in order to work through ideas quickly.  These zines are all standardized in terms of size and page amount and usually feature a severe restriction.  For example I made a zine using only a miller high-life 6 pack container as the source of imagery… this allowed me to think through cutting it up, manipulating it on the copier and zooming in on the textures and prints on the box.
How do you see your piece, “Pink Slip Fashioned Flag (for College Park)”, in relationship to the other works of the (SUB)URBAN exhibition?
Matthew’s curation focused on notions of suburban and domestic life and to me this speaks to ideas of banality and routine.  My work utilizes intervals of text/color to repeat two different states (work and worry) to an overwhelming degree.  This is related to my reading of Albert Camus and his idea of the “absurd life” .. that idea is that life is combined of an endless cycle of work and rest, and it is only through accepting these intervals that we can truly be satisfied with our lot.  I related to this view; cyclicality and continuum are facts of existence, they are nonnegotiable.  In my sense of the world, however, rest is replaced by worry (scarcity of resources, reliability of work, etc)… growing up in the rust belt, with family who work in manufacturing this is a truer sense of the absurd life.
Any future plans for your work and yourself? Upcoming exhibitions?
I am currently working on a solo exhibition for the Armstrong Gallery at the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington, IL.  This will happen in summer of 2018 and will feature an entire gallery wallpapered with work similar to the one at the Stamp, but screen printed in very low-threshold colors.  On top of that wallpaper will be corresponding prints in frames.  I will also be producing some portfolio prints for upcoming conferences, and presenting a lithography demonstration at the Rocky Mountain Printmaking Alliance Symposium in Pullman, WA.  A few other things are on the horizon — my hope is to always stay busy to stave off that workman’s guilt I will inevitably feel otherwise.
Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Be open and examine the world around you (there is often great stuff right under your nose) .
Find inspiration in things other than your medium (you will copy less and invent more).
Travel with little money (you know, to see what happens).
Work third shift at a gas station (it will make you an empathetic person).
Find the thing you actually like to do (this seems obvious, but if you aren’t wanting to do it, you won’t)
Build your own scene ((I was better a this when I was younger) because sometimes other people are waiting for something to happen, just like you are)


Nick Satinover’s work is included in (Sub)Urban at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 30th until December 16th, 2017. Interview by Tasiana Paolisso. 

For more information on Nick Satinover, visit


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