A Sitting with Nathan Gelgud

Posted inIllustration Design
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Nathan Gelgud

Nathan Gelgud illustrates tiny collections of things, as if he has released the contents of his pocket and taken pen to paper. While the renderings are small, the subjects are certainly not: Steve Martin, Sal Mineo, and Spuds McKenzie (see above), or Felix Mendelssohn, Frances McDormand and Fred MacMurray—personalities who share the same initials. This is Gelgud’s talent. He miniaturizes and contains so that his figures look like they belong in a curio cabinet, visible and ready for adoration.

Gelgud’s work is featured on a wall in Greenpoint’s In God We Trust, where he depicts the famous noggins of William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and Philip Roth, to name a few.

He explains, “I did all the author portraits you see on the wall there to have a little literary corner. I was reading these early John Updike short stories at the time, so that’s probably why his portrait looks the best. I also did James Baldwin, Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Raymond Carver, Saul Bellow, and JD Salinger.”

They are simple ink depictions that capture these writers’ literary weight. Gelgud says, “I like the way black lines look on off-white paper,” a style that dominates his work. “I’ve been using more color lately, though. I’m working on some stuff for a group show in September and I want it to be more colorful.”

Gelgud’s work is a free association of his everyday.

“The other day I was looking at this website that had a bunch of videos of celebrities doing the weather,” he says, “and there was this one of David Lynch doing the weather on his own website, and he had Laura Dern sitting there next to him with the date written backwards on a piece of paper. That reminded me of how much I loved Laura Dern when I saw A Perfect World last summer, or when I saw Jurassic Park as a kid. So when I got home that night I started a drawing of her in A Perfect World. I should draw her dad, too.”

Though born in New York, Gelgud grew up in North Carolina and studied film at North Carolina State University. He occasionally reviews films for The Independent Weekly there. His drawings have been featured in The Believer and on the excellently designed menu at The Commodore in Brooklyn. (Get the chicken sandwich!)

On Saturday, July 23, Gelgud will be on hand at In God We Trust’s Backyard Bazaar, drawing on-the fly-portraits for customers. Or really, he’ll draw whatever they ask him to, even if it’s a candy bar wrapper.

“I like making stuff for people,” he admits. “It’s like being a barista, which was maybe my favorite job.”

For more on Geglud, visit www.etsy.com/shop/gelgud.

Nathan Gelgud