Internationally recognized artist, Nick Sider, spends his time painting hyper-realistic acrylic masterpieces in his studio in New York City. The unique thing about Sider is that he’s a self-taught artist AND his paintings look like crystal clear photographs!
As a child, Sider knew he wanted to be a painter – the passion and interest were always there. However, it wasn’t until he turned 25 when Sider decided to quit his job, teach himself how to paint, and take steps to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an artist. When his father moved to New York, he saw it as an opportunity to explore the famous art hub, and soon enough the Canadian artist ran out of reasons not to move to one of the biggest art destinations in the world.
Sider quickly saw success in the Big Apple and hosted his first solo show in 2016. Although exhibitions are always helpful for patrons to interact with the art, Sider thanks social media for his widespread recognition. Thanks to several viral videos on Instagram Sider gained over 100,000 followers, and as a result, he has been fortunate to sell his artwork to collectors worldwide.
Sider’s main goal for his paintings is to use detail and color to create the illusion of life spawning from the canvas. He has certainly succeeded – his images of wildlife make you feel like you’re sitting in the jeep on safari!
Art Zealous sat down with Sider to discuss life in the studio and his practiced paintings.
Art Zealous: Art background?
Nick Sider: Most of my art background is self-taught. As a kid I taught myself how to draw and then as an adult, I taught myself how to paint. I don’t have any formal art education beyond high school. As for influences, I was always very interested in realistic painting, particularly wildlife realist painters.
AZ: Coffee or tea?
NS: Coffee…definitely coffee.
AZ: Dream travel destination?
NS: Right now it would be Europe – I’ve only briefly visited London. I think as an artist I need to spend a good chunk of time exploring Europe.
AZ: Favorite spot in NYC?
NS: Honestly my studio….but that’s not a fun answer. There are so many places – like Chelsea to see the galleries, dinner in the West Village or perhaps Bryant Park on a nice day.
AZ: Describe your aesthetic in 3 words.
NS: Simple, minimal, dramatic.
AZ: How did you teach yourself to paint?
NS: I had drawn so much when I was younger, that painting felt very natural. A lot of what I learned is just from practicing – essentially trial and error. Along the way, I picked up different techniques that are very particular to how I paint.
AZ: What fueled your decision to move to New York City?
NS: A few things. The first gallery owner I ever met was in Pennsylvania, where I lived at the time, and he told me if I wanted to take art seriously I need to get out and move to a bigger city. My dad also got a job in Manhattan around the time I began painting, so I got to visit a few times and it didn’t seem so scary. Eventually, I decided I wasn’t going to get another opportunity to live here again and might as well give it a shot!
AZ: What’s your studio vibe like?
NS: My vibe is orderly chaos. Everything is positioned just how I like it, which is essentially a drop cloth covered with different paints and brushes surrounded by my paintings. I used to have more order to it, but I love that everything I need is all right there in a pile where I left it the day before. I also have a television because I love having movies or shows buzzing in the background as I work.
AZ: What was it like painting publicly in New York subway stations? What types of folks did you meet and interact with during that experience?
NS: It was a fun experience – I only did it a handful of times. I think the more you work as a self-starter or entrepreneur, you get spontaneous ideas and feel compelled to try them out. I met all different kinds of people but most were afraid to say anything to me directly; they would either quietly admire or shout something as they walked by.
AZ: You paint beautiful pieces of wildlife that are so realistic. What animal best categorizes your personality?
NS: A tiger. Maybe also a beaver because I’m Canadian.
AZ: You have a large Instagram following! How do you think social media influences the art world and how has it helped advance your career?
NS: Social media has helped immensely. About 90% of my sales are connected to social media, and more importantly, it enables me to easily share my art with a global audience.
I would say social media is definitely impacting the art world. In my experience, I used to work through galleries leading me to little success, and now I sell privately or through my own shows as many other artists are doing. In my opinion, galleries used to be the biggest stakeholders, but now they need to prove what they can offer to artists since there are other options.
AZ: Tell us about your portraits. How do you select subjects to paint?
NS: Most of my work is reactionary. I see a subject or a photo and immediately think, “I need to paint that.”
AZ: Tell us about your project and campaign with One Life Matters.
NS: When I learned about the Syrian Refugee crisis, I couldn’t believe how unaware I was of the situation. I immediately wanted to do something to help teach people about what was happening. I found an image online of a little girl from Jordan who was affected by the crisis and as soon as I saw it, I felt I had to paint the image so I did. I found out the image was connected to One Life Matters, an amazing organization that helps get supplies and education to refugees. I met the team and we discussed a campaign around sharing a painting and teaching people about the crisis. So when finished, I posted an image of the painting along with the story behind it and asked others to simply share the post and donate to One Life Matters.
AZ: Currently working on?
NS: Right now I have a long list of commissions I am finishing, which is about 50-60% of my work. I have also been creating a series of large paintings of tigers that I am continuing to produce. I plan to do some new portraits and possible collaborations with other artists later this year.
AZ: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
NS: I don’t have any shows currently lined up, but plan to have one in the near future. Long term the goal has always been to eventually open my own gallery. I enjoy doing shows but have always liked the idea of having one location where everyone can come to see my work.
Follow Nick Sider on Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Nick Sider.