The Rapidian

Local artist feature from UICA: Nick Castillon

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Nick Castillon is an artist living in Grand Rapids. Castillon's work is eclectic and ambitious large-scale multi-dimensional mixed media paintings.
Art by Nick Castillon

Art by Nick Castillon /Courtesy of the UICA

Underwriting support from:
Castillon in his studio

Castillon in his studio /Courtesy of UICA

Art by Nick Castillon

Art by Nick Castillon /Courtesy of UICA

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts invites you to learn more about West Michigan's creative workforce, neighboring cultural organizations, and about ways to engage with Grand Rapids' art-scene with interviews and guest features highlighting our local and regional community members. Visit for monthly interviews.

How would you describe your work?

Honestly, it's difficult for me to describe my work. I love to paint because I have such a hard time expressing myself with language. What I can tell you is that my work is intentional, raw, and full of energy. I am constantly sampling from my environment. I would like to think of my work as "deliberate enigmas."

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

Jean Michel Basquiat changed my life. I stumbled across his work in 2010 and I was able to relate immediately to the content Jean Michel was addressing in his work. More-so his approach to creating captivated me. Basquiat gave me the confidence to follow my instincts, rather than the traditional technical approach to painting.

Do you have a piece of work which stands out in your mind as something you are exceptionally proud of or that is particularly important to you?

Yes, I’m working on a new series of paintings that are minimal, but powerful in content. Specifically addressing Race and Discrimination. I used to hide my messages under layers of collage and paint, but I’ve decided to throw it in your face in this series. Specifically in this Untitled (Cassius Ali) painting.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m making a series of paintings that highlight social issues. I would love to get a collaborative show at one the galleries downtown. It would be a great opportunity for the community to bring local artists together to start a conversation focused around our work.

What do you want others outside of the creative workforce to understand about careers within the arts?

Art is a career. It’s a misconception that artists are lazy, (especially the younger generation of artists). That couldn’t be further from the truth. Art takes discipline and drive and artist must be motivated. Creating relevant content while orchestrating the business side as well; design, marketing, sales, and social media management can be really challenging. Artists are some of the hardest working people I’ve met and they deserve to be respected and supported.

How can communities, specifically Grand Rapids, better support the creative workforce?

Two Words: BUY ART

What are you passionate about besides your work?

Basketball. It's an escape, it's nostalgic. I was obsessed with Michael Jordan. I still play about 3-4 times a week, it's always relaxing to jump on my bike and ride around town looking for a pick up game. Basketball allows me to continue being creative, it’s such an expressive act.

What’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?

Exercise gratitude and patience.

Looking for more?

Learn more about the artist here.

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