Creative Mind Podcast Episode 33: Craig Nelson – A Masterclass on the Working Artist

“Because we have learned, well, how to orchestrate marks that have meaning to someone else. We’re creating magic.”

“We’re selling them a canvas, or we’re selling them a piece of aluminum or a piece of hardboard or a piece of birch with paint on it. But because we’ve all been trained to make those marks have meaning whether you’re a realist or an abstract artist, doesn’t matter because they all have meaning, they all resonate with somebody. Because we have learned, well, how to orchestrate marks that have meaning to someone else. We’re creating magic.”

In this episode of Creative Mind, Craig Nelson takes us on a true masterclass on what being a working artist means. In a little over an hour, we discuss marketing, building a brand, style, galleries, commissions, and more. Putting talent aside, there is a lot that goes into becoming a success on canvas and Craig does a tremendous job outline how to set up your life and thinking to find that path that works for you. A great episode for anyone who has ever picked up or thought about picking a brush.

A Colorful Career in Fine Art

For more than 30 years, Dr. Craig Nelson has depicted figures, landscapes, California coastal vistas, and various environments in rich, vibrant oils. He has painted countless movie posters, including the one-sheets for Slap Shot, The Monster Squad, and The Incredible Journey; many book covers; and album covers for the likes of Natalie Cole (Thankful) and Rick Nelson (Country).

Some of his most prestigious works have been his Broadway production posters for Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers and Proposals; both originals are in the playwright’s private collection. In 1974 Craig began teaching at Art Center College of Design, and for the past 30 years has been sharing his knowledge at Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he is the Executive Director of the School of Fine Art, MFA & BFA, Drawing, Painting, Printmaking and Sculpture.

After graduating from Art Center College of Design with distinction, Craig began his career working in Los Angeles for recording companies and motion picture studios, creating portraits and other subjects with strict deadlines.

Craig’s countless movie posters include “The Cowboys”, “Slapshot”, and “Homeward Bound” among many others. His album cover credits include, “Sammy Davis Jr. Live”, “Rick Nelson, Country” and “Natalie Cole, Thankful” along with many more. Collectors include, James Garner, Neil Simon, Toyota Corporation, UCLA Dental and Law School, the U.S. Air Force, UCSF Dental School and many more.

He has won over 200 awards of excellence and several gold medals. The “Arts for the Parks” national competition awarded Craig the Grand Teton Natural History Award for a painting entitled “Dining Alone”. His work is collected in the United States, Asia as well as Europe.


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