Nate E. Rodriguez-Vera (NERV) is a digital artist from Puerto Rico, living in Brooklyn, NY. He specializes in 3D computer graphics, illustration, design, and animation. Nate’s work cycles through a handful of recurring themes, ranging from vast, mystical desert landscapes, to retro-futuristic deco and architecture, to 80s/90s pop culture, to minimalist geometric abstractions - all glued together into a cohesive body of work by a unique, surrealist, dreamy aesthetic.
H+: Your work stems from landscapes, textures and pop-culture references, what do you draw as inspiration when starting a new piece?
Nate Rodriguez-Vera: I never really have a plan where I tell myself "today I'm making this", or "tomorrow I'm making that". I just sit down to start working on a piece and let my mood dictate the direction.
There'll be days where I just feel like making a storyboard panel for a movie that doesn't exist, wanting to tell a story through a single frame. That's what results in the landscape pieces. Even then, these are improvised. I build the "story" as I go.
The more abstract, textured pieces are even more improvised. Those just come from experimentation with no particular goal. Like "let's see if this ends in something cool or not". There's definitely a lot of throwaway, half-finished content that stems from that. But also a handful of keepers that I love. Those are the ones I show.
The pop culture stuff is more or less the same. Or there'll be a particular topic I'm having feelings about that I'd like to work into a piece.
H+: Do you remember who or what moved you to help shape your aesthetic and style?
NRV: There are too many influences to name them all, but most of it comes from my childhood in the 80s and 90s. Sci-fi books and movies and their respective posters / front covers. Surf / skate / bmx culture. The bold, crazy color patterns and textures in everything back then. Interior decoration and architecture from that era. Dune, Stargate, Point Break, RAD, The Goonies, TRON, Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Lost Boys, Nickelodeon, MTV, arcade games, rave culture during my teens. You get the idea. I was just bombarded with all this sensory overload during my formative years and it all kind of seeped into my subconscious. I'm always channeling some of it in some subtle or not-so-subtle way.
H+: As a creative, we are always eager to dip our feet into other interests. Do you have any activities or interests that help feed your creative energy?
NRV: Making music used to be my main creative outlet. Eventually I became more interested in illustrating cover art than making the actual music to go with it, and with some time, that escalated into where I am now. I still have my moments here and there in which I take a stab at making a little music but those have become fewer and farther between as time goes.
On the more active side, I love cycling. I'm not the fastest guy out there, but I'm not trying to be. There's just something about riding a bike by myself for a couple of hours that's very therapeutic. I should do it more often.
H+: Water seems to be a reoccurring theme in your designs, is there something significant with it? If so, why?
NRV: Definitely. Growing up in Puerto Rico, I was surrounded by water. The beach was always a short drive away and it played a huge role in my life growing up. The color gradient from the shore out into the horizon, the motion of the waves, how the light bounced off of it at just the right time, the feeling of weightlessness, it was all hypnotic. It was hard not to be obsessed with it. So I spent as much time as possible around it. It's always been with me. I'm always fantasizing with having my own little private ocean.
H+: If you were dropped off in a desert island with a solar powered DVD player and only had one movie you could watch, what would it be and why?
NRV: Is there a "How to Survive in a Desert Island" training DVD? If so, then that one. Or Castaway. Or Blue Lagoon. Or something like that. You get my drift. Self-explanatory.
View more of Nate Rodriguez-Vera's work on his H+ page.