About Nicholas Ivins

Nicholas Ivins is an award-winning artist, illustrator, and graphic designer, born and raised in San Diego. His artistic pursuits began at the age of three with crude drawings of undersea life and autobiographical comics. They have developed admirably since then, if only in the smaller amount of tantrums a drawing necessitates.

Nick’s ink and digital art is heavily influenced by the comics and cartoons he grew up on (and still enjoys), as well as his years of academic study of fine art and contemporary illustration. His approach is to find unexplored and subversive angle on subjects, and his offbeat but technically precise approach to art places him among the lowbrow/pop surrealist art movement.

Above all, he enjoys exploring the dark beauty of a wide variety of subjects, including Día de los Muertos figures, meticulous animal portraits, illustrative explorations of music, and more. Nick enjoys pushing the boundaries of his own skills, while continually searching for new depths of meaning and unique perspectives of our increasingly complex world.

When not slaving over some weirdly obtuse drawing or sweating under the sun at a street fair, Nick enjoys reading comics, collecting insects, indie music, and working out.

Media, Press, & Interviews

Artist celebrates life in Day of the Dead works
Pacific San Diego Magazine, October 2016

Brushes with Greatness
Pacific San Diego Magazine, March 2015

Back To The Drawing Board
Pacific San Diego Magazine, March 2014

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did you learn to draw? Did you go to art school?
I’m mostly self-taught and have been drawing for as long as I can remember. No art school, but I did major in graphic design and took my fair share of studio, art history, and comics-related courses, which helped shape my current style.

How do you make your art?
Traditionally, I draw/sketch out first with regular mechanical pencils, then ink over that with a variety of pens and implements. From there, I scan the original ink drawing and color it in Photoshop. This process is very similar to the traditional means of how comic books are made.  As much as I like the results (and lower expense) of working digitally, I’m too in love with the tactility of physical “analog” drawing, and don’t see myself ever giving it up completely.

Check out the Processes section for in-depth step-by-steps of some of my pieces.

How long does it take you to do a piece?
It always depends on the complexity (and size) of the drawing, as well as my free time and other factors. I really don’t keep track of the hours, and could not begin to estimate how long I spend on average. Sometimes a few days, sometimes a few weeks…

Do you do any painting?
Sometimes for the background of a piece, but generally no. I’m a hardcore drawer, and although I admire the many other mediums out there (including painting), I’ve never had much of a personal interest in them. The ease and precision of a pencil and pen has always had a simple, straightforward—even underground—appeal to me. There’s a tendency in the art world to “rank” mediums in terms of respect and importance, with paint always being placed above drawing. It’s something I’ve always resisted and it’s my goal to demonstrate the beauty and importance of “simple” drawing.

I suppose I’m more of a purist when it comes to admiring art—all that really matters is if the image is compelling or not. How the art is produced—whether by acrylics, ink and marker, or other means—is objectively interesting, but ultimately of secondary importance to me.

How did you get into Day of the Dead art?
I did my first piece several years ago as an exploration of the holiday/tradition that I had seen so much of in my home of San Diego. At the time I didn’t expect it to take a hold of me in the way that it did, and I’ve continued to explore it more and more.

There’s so much about the holiday that draws me to it, from the colorful and lush pageantry, to the upbeat outlook on death and the energy of Mexican culture. I do have Mexican heritage, so there’s a personal connection for me, but Day of the Dead is ultimately for everyone and I’d definitely still be doing it regardless of my ethnic background.

Who do you admire, artistically speaking?
I grew up on cartoons and comics, and many of my idols are artists and writers in those fields. Bill Watterson, Daniel Clowes, Robert Crumb, The Hernandez Brothers, Chris Ware, Charles Burns, and Peter Kuper come to mind.

I have a great idea for a comic! Can you draw it for me?
Unfortunately, no. Comics are one of the most time-consuming projects possible, and the typical client’s budget does not allow for the true cost of time and energy required. Plus, I have too many of my own stories to fulfill before I work on anyone else’s. Sorry.

However, I am available for cover illustrations or concept art, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a more short-term project along these lines.

What don’t you like to draw?
Boring stuff, lol. I’ve never done a landscape or a still life outside of school. Basically, any traditional artistic exercise puts me to sleep, with the exception of life drawing (people).

How much do you charge for ________?
It depends on the project type and budget. Each project is handled on a case-by-case basis. Check out my Services page and feel free to contact me with any questions.

Can I sell your items in my place of business?
Yes! Please email me and we can discuss.

What is your career goal(s) as an artist?
I sort of have a few, and it’s my hope to achieve all of them. I love comics, and have many ongoing stories I would like to finish and release. I also love illustration and fine art, and want to continue exploring that, as well. Becoming a successful artist is a long and circuitous route; there’s no simple ladder to success, so we have to make it any way we can. For that reason, there’s no way to know what shape your career will take, and that’s the scary and exciting thing about it.

More than anything, I’d simply like my art to take me places. It’s always been a way for me to interact with, explore, and understand the world, and in that spirit, it’s impossible to map out where I’ll go. But as long as I make enough to eat, have fun, and improve my skills, I’ll be happy.