Part of the fun at (614) Magazine is getting to extend our art department out into the vast creative community of Columbus. This month, we got to double-down the “maker” theme of our cover story, commissioning a custom piece from Alison Rose Tees screen printer and illustrator Nicholas Nocera, photographed brilliantly by Nick Fancher. Nocera is also the de-facto brand manager of the annual Beatles Marathon, which made it dually apropos for December. Here, go inside the cover artists to reveal his connection to music and how it brings his creations to life:
On the local music scene: There is something special about the music community here in Columbus. Most of my friendships can be traced back to music. So when I moved to Columbus over 13 years ago now, I found that there was a really supportive and creative group of people doing things that I had common interests with. It all began with seeing a couple local shows, and meeting the people involved with the scene then.
On creating local art versus national bands: I think I started to work with friends playing those smaller shows, mainly because they gave me a chance. In a way, starting on that micro-level gave me the confidence I think I was looking for. Some of the first gig posters I did were for friends, so I felt like they just gave me that opportunity, and it’s flourished from there.
On poster art as product: A lot of the imagery comes from an idea sparked by a lyric, or a certain mood of the album. Gig posters essentially started as necessity, and overtime have morphed into part of the merchandise.
On original inspiration: Probably the very album that I really remember digging into the artwork/packaging was Pearl Jam’s VS. record. The photography, the Xerox-textures, the lyric scribbles/ drawings for each song … it really had a handmade quality that I was drawn to. Brad Wood’s work with Far’s album Tin Cans with Strings to You is some of my favorite illustrations. He also did the artwork for Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary album. The work that Carson Ellis creates for the Decemberists’ albums is still some of my favorite artwork.
On saving a “dying art”: The screen-printing process itself is sort of a labor intensive/labor of love, each layer being put down one at a time. Almost all of my work starts out with hand drawn illustrations and hand drawn font.
On being the “fifth Beatle” of local poster fame: I’ve grown to love that challenge of finding a different story to tell each year by diving into their catalog of songs/albums. These songs mean so much to so many people; there is a responsibility in paying respect to them, but also finding new, interesting ways to do that. It’s been incredible seeing how this event has grown over the years. It’s really special. I’m thankful to be a small part of it.