GratefulWeb.com‘s contributor, Michelle Miesse recently had a chance to talk to Wakarusa’s Art Director, Nicholas Tarr. Check out the interview below!
As art director, why is it important to have art at music festivals?
Music festivals aren’t just about the music anymore, they’re about the whole experience. It’s not just about the lineup, people want to see and experience things they never have, they want to be blown away. I think the entire festival experience is evolving into a wonderful direction that allows creative collaboration between all mediums. As concert goers, we are seeing more and more elaborate stage decor, live painting, and enhanced visuals, festivals are an open platform where all creativity can collide into something magical, everyone is a contributor.
Why did you choose to become Art Director for a music festival?
As an artist, I am wildly inspired by working and collaborating with others artists and designers. As Art Director for Wakarusa, I am given the opportunity to be a voice for the attendees and contributors while creating opportunities for others. We are always trying to evolve the visual impact and interaction on the mountain by creating opportunities for others to create and contribute to the experience. Overall, I feel like the opportunity chose me, I am eternally grateful to be a part of something so beautiful.
Do you work with other festivals, setting up art displays or anything else?
Wakarusa is the only music festival I am currently involved with at the moment, but I am always networking to explore new potentials and opportunities. I feel like the Festival industry has so much to offer, creatively and socially. Everytime I attend a festival I learn and see so much, I try to remember those things as I go about my everyday life. I look forward to doing this everyday.
What types of art do you think work best on Mulberry Mountain? Are there any that seem particularly fitting?
Mulberry Mountain is such a beautiful gem nestled in the woods in the middle of the Natural State. There is so much natural beauty everywhere you go and the festival is definitely influenced by that. It’s where music meets mother nature, so I think its best not to compete with that. Some of the most successful installs on the mountain are those that interact with the environment and the attendees. Whether it is suspended from the trees in the Satellite stage, or planted in the middle of main stage, it has to work with everything around it. It is also important for everything to be impactful both day and night, lighting is an important element that changes the whole dynamic at nightfall.
How has art changed your life? How do you think it can change or improve the lives of others?
I have been creatively motivated all my life, some might say I have art ADD, I am always learning, sharing, and exploring new opportunities and capabilities. Someone once told me, “How and where you spend your time is where your rewards will be,” to me this couldn’t be more true. I have spent ten years chasing creative outlets, yet I feel like I have just now started on my true path. Many people do not know what they are capable of, but through art, music, and the community of the festival, we can help each other explore new possibilities and understandings.
Who are some musicians that really inspire you?
One of the best things about Wakarusa, and festivals in general is all the new music I learn about. I am constantly expanding my musical library, everything from bluegrass to hip hop gets me going. Pretty Lights, Xavierr Rudd, The Roots, String Cheese Incident, The Floozies, Primus, I usually just keep it on shuffle, you never know where the music will take you.
What are some music festivals you admire for their use of art during during such events?
There are so many festivals out there right now, all over the world with super impressive installations and visuals. But right here in the U.S, I really like what Electric Forest has Created at Rothbury, such an amazing execution of resources from the lighting, to the performers and the artwork, there is creativity everywhere. I also have my eyes on the more transformational festivals, like Lightning in a Bottle, they have a much smaller attendance than some other major festivals, but they execute their event so beautifully, all the attendees can’t wait to return the next year.
Who are some artists you’re interested in these days?
That questions is almost harder to answer than the music question! As an artist and fabricator, I am inspired by everything around me, my motto has always been, “ARS GRATIA ARTIS” which is Latin for “ART FOR ART’S SAKE.” I am very impressed with a designer named Heather Shaw of Vita Motus, she has designed some very beautiful environmental installations. I could go on and on about 2D artists, some of my favorites are, David Choe, Anthony Lister, Mars 1, & Justin Bower, but just like music there are so many genres and styles, all you can do is appreciate and accept it all for what it is.