edited by courtney marie
It’s a pleasure to share & celebrate this week’s featured artist, not simply because she is a mindbogglingly talented multi-disciplinary artist and designer, but because she’s also had a major role in administrating and organizing everything that Spiderweb Salon has managed to accomplish as a collective this year. Nina Chantanapumma’s creative work is a delight to explore: colorful, fresh, and funny, always thoughtful and meticulously executed. As a skilled collaborator and one of the hardest-working creators and educators on this side of 35, we’re especially excited today to announce that she’s accepted the official role of Spiderweb Salon’s co-director as we work together to build a stronger, more unified collective in the coming year. WE’RE SO EXCITED and we hope you’ll join us on our new creative adventures. To celebrate with us, we hope you’ll check out some of Nina’s amazing work that we’ve paired with an exclusive interview about her journey through design and creativity, her dreams for the future, and a little advice we all need to hear. Congratulations, Nina! Let’s do this.
Tell us a little bit about your creative history & background in the arts.
Does tracing count? My first memory of drawing involved me tracing images and gifting them to my kindergarten teacher. She eventually told me to stop. Luckily, I bounced back from that rejection and continued drawing as a hobby throughout my younger years. I went to college to pursue a computer science degree, but after an hour at freshman orientation, I realized I wanted to exercise my creativity -- both artistically and technically -- so I eventually switched to graphic design. I worked in the industry for a few years before finding my niche as an educator. I’ve taught art, web design, digital art, animation, and photography at the middle school and high school levels. Getting to guide students through the creative process has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I think it’s important for young people to be able to express themselves creatively, to tell their own stories, to imagine something, make it happen, and be proud of it. The tables have turned since I am now a teacher who often receives art as gifts from my students. I’ll never tell them to stop!
What are your preferred mediums? What have you always wanted to dabble in but haven’t yet attempted?
I love art supplies! I’m really good at buying them; however, I am really terrible about setting aside time to use them all. I was at a hand lettering meetup when I saw an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil for the first time. It only took a minute to see how responsive the Pencil is and how versatile apps like Procreate can be before I knew I wanted to own one. The iPad is so convenient to use that it eliminates most of my excuses, so I’ve found myself drawing more. I do eventually want to work on becoming more comfortable with inking (Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is a favorite!) and printmaking. I have my sights set on experimenting with video once I feel ready to move onto something new.
For you, what’s the perfect recipe for creating? (The atmosphere, music, mood?)
Ideally? I enjoy creating in the company of fellow artists with food and beverage in tow under a sunny, blue sky. Honestly? Some of my best ideas have happened while sleep deprived and alone after midnight under a looming deadline.
How and why did you get involved with Spiderweb Salon?
It took me moving away from Denton for a few years for me to get involved! After I moved away, courtney marie was hired at the local creative agency I had worked at, so when I came up to visit one day, we were introduced. We became pen pals, sending each other postcards (and her also mailing me paper invitations to Spiderweb Salon events) for a year or so until I moved back to Denton. While I found that Denton wasn’t exactly how it was when I left it, I discovered Spiderweb Salon was a community I felt safe with and valued as a person and as an artist. I attended many zine workshops and meetups as an observer before finally submitting any artwork. To be honest, it was a little intimidating to be surrounded by such talented creators, but everyone is so kind and inclusive, it didn’t take long until they became a creative family to me.
What hopes and dreams do you have for Spiderweb Salon, especially now that you are officially overseeing the projects and mission as the co-director? What hopes and dreams do you have for yourself as an artist?
First of all, it is surreal to me that I have the honor of helping lead this collective that consists of some of North Texas’ most talented artists, writers, performers, musicians, and makers! Something that is of most utmost importance to me is that as Spiderweb Salon continues to grow, I hope we never lose what drew me into the web in the first place -- how we give people platforms to amplify their voices, even if it’s their first time doing so. Our crew runs deep, but I want to make sure we continue to leave our doors open for others to join us. Our zines and open mic events are perfect ways for folks to dip their toes into our pool, and we’ll be working on extending our hands out further into the community to invite new voices to contribute.
Personally, I hope that I don’t let logistics get in the way of me continuing to create and grow as an artist. After years of teaching art, I set a goal this year to practice what I preach, to make art myself and to make art more often, and I feel successful in how I’ve approached that. In 2019, I hope to build on that momentum and begin refining what I’ve learned this year by tackling bigger projects.
How do you think your peers and Denton’s creative community at large can help make those dreams a reality?
I’d love for everyone I know to contribute to Spiderweb Salon in any form they feel most comfortable doing so, whether through submitting artwork or helping us decorate for a show or by becoming a Patreon member. But! As much as I’d like for us to have more resources, those contributions would be most meaningful if every contributor also attended at least one of our showcases. That’s where the magic truly happens. This year, specifically during #PLEASED and Spiderdead, I witnessed how powerful art can be as we explored deeper issues together. As the performers became more vulnerable, I saw the audience allow themselves to be vulnerable, and those are beautiful moments that will be etched in my mind forever. As a result of those showcases, we had an influx of new folks wanting to help out and I want to keep that cycle going as long as we exist.
What is one piece of advice or wisdom you’d like all artists to hear?
I went to a Q&A session with Ben Folds and someone asked him about his writing process. He described it as turning on a faucet and not being afraid of “letting the brown out.” Not every piece of work is going to be your best, but your best work is not even going to happen if you’re not working at all. So, create as much as you can and don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.