Bard: I was born in Durango, Colo., and my family moved to Pagosa Springs (Colorado) when I was seven. I had always been “the creative one” and even won awards in art in my first years in school, but it was at this age that I found a passion for snowboarding and first began paying attention to graphics and advertisement design.
It wasn’t until high school that I rediscovered my desire to create with a strong influence from my art teacher at the time. At the start of my junior year, after testing out of advanced placement classes, a lack of options for extracurricular activities and my beloved art teacher moving away, I chose to get my GED and apply to Western to continue my passions that were becoming stifled in Archuleta County. I was a high school junior in October of 2010, and a freshman at Western in January of 2011, at the ripe age of 16 years old.
What is the value of studying art at a university?
Bard: There are a lot of formal and technical skills that are associated with making “art,” and this is what I assume a lot of people think art school consists of, but there’s not much formal training that you can’t learn through the internet and how-to books.
While you are sure to improve upon your craft and process in art school, the most valuable part of it for me was being introduced to the history, critical theories and concepts that function to determine what is “art” and what is “a pretty picture.” Learning how art functions to communicate, what it communicates and why it communicates that way; these are all very complex concepts that are not so easily found in a Google search or “Drawing for Dummies” but are essential concepts for any artist wanting to make meaningful or innovative work.
What inspires your work and how has it evolved?
Bard: As cliché as it sounds, music has been a consistent inspiration in my work, with different genres having their own respective influences. During my time at Western, one could say I was influenced heavily by the low-brow graphic nature of many metal and rock albums, as well as many other occult inspirations like tarot cards and Wiccan culture.
Since becoming more interested—and educated—in the realms of abstract concepts, my recent work explores how objective and subjective information defines our own personal realities. With a conceptual affinity for issues like identity, gender, politics, linguistics and the natural and urban environments, my current work has largely been informed by my interest in “remix” music by studying theoretic research on the genre.
Any particularly fond memories from your time at Western?
Bard: My fondest memories at Western are definitely late nights in the studio, when the formality of classes fades away and the half-hearted headed home, when all the night owls come out to create. I’ll never forget spending spring break of my final semester cooped up in the print studio working 20-hour days—all for the sake of art!
This interview has been lightly edited. Interview by Peter Noon, Marketing Communications. Photos provided by Nate Bard.