Comics, graphic novels and illustrations by Nathan Fox often appear to burst at the seams with over-the-top superheroes, huge gestures and eye-popping colors. Fox graduated from MFA Illustration as Visual Essay in 2002. After a robust freelance career, he returned to SVA in 2012 to launch and chair MFA Visual Narrative. He remains one of the most sought-after practitioners in the business, maintaining a supernaturally busy schedule inside the studio and out. He is also one of more than 360 protégés of Marshall Arisman showcased in “We Tell Stories”—an exhibition celebrating the 30th anniversary of MFA Illustration as Visual Essay’s founding—on view November 4 through December 17 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery. Below, Fox reveals the source of his superpowers.
Favorite project of all time?
Oh, man. I’m not sure. The ones I would have to say I’m most proud to have worked on, or had the opportunity to do, were the ones that let me have complete freedom with the art and story. Several comic book projects come to mind, but almost all of the skateboard series I worked on back in the day always come to mind first when I think about jobs that I loved working on and still get comments on today. Those decks were a testing ground for wanting to do comics, and for building up the confidence to take a chance on sequential storytelling when I need it most. Great time. Lots of mistakes and things I’d love to edit in them, but man, were they a blast and a huge experiment, education and release.
Most prominent memory of your SVA days?
Staying up all night and falling asleep with my fellow comrades-in-arms outside of Kim Ablondi‘s office in the hopes that we might not miss class the following morning. I wonder if that lead to half of the nickname we got as a class that year—“the Eaters and Sleepers.”
What are you working on now?
A new arc of Jack Kirby’s Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers series for Dynamite Comics, covers for FBP [Federal Bureau of Physics] (Vertigo) and Ben Zackheim’s The Camelot Kids (also art directing the digital/softcover books), and chairing and teaching in MFA Visual Narrative at SVA.
Best advice you got at SVA?
“You never know what you know until you know it, but you’ll never know that you knew you know it until you understand that it was known and always there.”
Words of wisdom for current students?
“You never know what you know until you know it, but you’ll never know that you knew you know it until you understand that it was known and always there.” Ha! Seriously, though—and in translation of the above: be honest with yourself about your work and within your work. Produce the work that you truly WANT to do rather than what you think may be expected of you, or is popular in the current marketplace.
But my favorite line and professional practice bit is: you always are where you need to be—it’s what you put into the work along the way that defines where you land when you get there.