January Artist of the Month: Nmph and Wes Winship
“If you can dream it, we can paint it.” – Burlesque Public Works Division
Rising up in a bold fusion of color and message, the works of Nmph and Wes Winship add distinct personality to public spaces throughout the Twin Cities. Of Burlesque Public Works Division: Nmph and Wes have created countless recognizable works throughout MPLS and beyond. It’s clear that our January artists of the month feel comfortable wearing many hats! As members of our Community Art Showcase, the team boasts a collection of public eye-candy including murals, design, lettering, illustrations, photo-realism and graffiti-likeness.
While no two projects ever repeat the exact content or structure, there is clear consistency throughout their portfolio that touts a pronounced style and vision. With a strong knack for visual storytelling, their works start a dialogue in the minds of observers who are driven to piece together narratives from metaphor, feeling from color, and message from physical space and placement. From their portfolio, “detail and versatility” are common themes which clearly play out in a visual smorgasbord of powerful, depth-charged works. We invite you to please enjoy – in their own words – a journey through just a small sampling of their works and thoughts in our first Artist of the Month of 2017.
Nmph & Wes Winship | MPLSissippi
As children, what did you want to be when you grew up? Was being an artist always a part of your plans?
Nmph: I was always seriously into drawing when I was young though I never really wanted to grow up and never gave much thought to it or to what I wanted to be. I was only concerned with the right now, but making art for a living was something that I only really began focusing on in middle school.
Wes: My first memory of this was a desire to be a marine biologist. Art wasn’t far behind. I always liked to draw and make things but it wasn’t until late in high school when I began to consider a career as a creative.
Describe your art in one word.
Do you have a lot of creative freedom on your murals; do clients guide the concepts, or is it a mixture?
Nmph: Fortunately, we usually do have creative control of the projects that we take on. The majority of the time we are brought on based on the merit of our previous work and our clients trust that we will deliver, though it can vary and at times clients will have some notes for us about content or concepts that they would like to have included.
Wes: At this stage in my career, my goal is to have as much creative freedom as possible. When meeting with clients, I like to get a sense of what they’d like as far as some of the general concepts. Beyond that, I make sure they understand that I’ll do my best work if I have the freedom to interpret those concepts in my own way. The sketch stage is fairly rough, leaving much of creativity to happen when the paint meets the wall.
Between murals, custom installations, interior/exterior advertising and signage, what do you spend the most time doing? What do you enjoy the most?
Nmph: It depends, though the painting process is what we usually spend the majority of our time on and it is what I enjoy the most. Whether it be working on murals or the construction and painting for fine art installations.
Wes: Add to that illustration, graphic design and screen-printing and we might have all of my bases covered! I tend to jump around between all of them expect when a big project comes along that consumes all my time for awhile. I’m looking to spend more time on murals and fine art but I honestly enjoy all of it.
Many of your works are very vibrant. What’s more important – color, concept or content?
Nmph: It’s a rotating dial of circumstance. There are projects in which color, concept, and content are all equally important, however there are also more minimal content projects that come about where color comes to the forefront in importance.
Wes: It’s all of them working together in harmony. Color can definitely be one of the trickiest though. Years of screen-printing really helped me be actually limiting my color palette per project. Each color that was added to the design added to the cost and production time. So I learned how to get the most out of two or three colors. So even though some of my newer work has a wide palette, each new color is added with the same care.
Of your body of work, what is your favorite mural and why?
Nmph: The mural we painted for the new 3M Design Center is a personal favorite of mine, painting on raw concrete is always fun, and I’m happy with how we used the negative space and the overall texture and feeling of the final product.
Wes: Usually the most recently completed piece. Learning and improving is a huge part of my drive so the newest work often contains something I hadn’t conquered before making it my favorite until I’ve passed it with the next project.
What is your creative process and technique?
Nmph: Coffee, music, muscle memory, premeditation and improvisation.
Wes: In some cases, it’s sparks of inspiration followed by crippling anxiety. Then chaining myself to the project until its complete. Then there’s work where it’s just simply play. It could be finding interesting surfaces to paint on and chopping them up, combining them with other things until a painting takes shape. Or just improvising with a bunch of different mediums that might not get along and seeing what happens when they mix.
What other themes do you explore through your art and what do you hope to explore more in the future?
Nmph: When we work together on projects we either build off of randomness with an abstract approach to the composition, or we have a theme in mind for the type of client or event that the project is for. As for the future, I’d like to be painting more of our own concepts and themes, more often.
Wes: Portraiture and the human form is something I come back to time and time again. There’s just something about being able to capture someone’s uniqueness that’s pretty magical. I’d like to explore some themes that are a little more introspective at some point but I’m not trying to force it.
Is there a cohesive narrative between your bodies of work? Or does each piece stand individually?
Nmph: Not so much as a narrative, but more so a cohesive personality or style that acts as a calling card. We strive for each piece to stand alone in relation to what the underlying theme or concept is, however, there are certain recognizable aesthetics that can be seen throughout our body of work (both as a team and as individuals) that over time we have been building upon.
Wes: The main narrative is my own creative exploration. After spending years as a graphic designer for my day job, I tend to look at each piece, project, what have you as it’s own problem to solve within a certain set of parameters. If there aren’t any to begin with, I’ll come up with my own. So each work stands on it’s own but there are conscious and subconscious connections between them that comes out through my personal style.
Thank you, Nmph and Wes! As always, artwork found in these posts can easily be located in our Community Art Showcase. For more on how you can help strengthen the Twin Cities creative economy, please visit Art Force MSP.