upon entering our Fishtown HQ, you'll be greeted by two vibrant murals created by Philly-based contemporary artist, NDA. As longtime fans of NDA's work in Philly + beyond, we approached him for these internal pieces because we felt he could deliver thought-provoking, unique artwork which would help continually inspire the creativity which we, as a company, thrive on. The murals, complete with his signature silhouettes, impossible objects + abstract designs, delivered just that. We recently caught up with NDA to learn more about what inspires him daily + his recent work (which can be found globally, as well as on our Front Street Walls mural project)...
hg: tell us a bit about your artistic background. Who or what inspired you to pursue art as a career? How did you find your way to Philly?
"I was one of those kids that was always drawing."
My parents both had artistic backgrounds separate from mine, so they got it. They were, what you would consider, struggling artists for a large part of my childhood, so although they were supportive, they were also a bit apprehensive. The public schools where I grew up had very bad art programs, so they signed me up for after school art classes. Ultimately, I have them to thank. I moved to Philly a little over two years ago because NY had become too expensive for me and I was trying to figure out where my next place would be. Philly seemed like somewhere I could afford and also work.
hg: how would you describe your artistic style? What is the message you wish to convey or goal you wish to achieve with your art?
nda: I’m not exactly sure how I’d describe it. Although I’d regard a lot of the work as painting, it has a heavy illustration influence. Surrealism + humor play a big role in it as well. Each public or private piece is its own separate challenge. So the meaning behind the work varies from piece to piece. Like I said, humor is often a big component, so sometimes the goal of a piece is to simply make you laugh.
hg: you’ve installed several beautiful pieces around our Fishtown headquarters + on our Front Street Walls mural project. What inspired the pieces you chose for each space?
nda: for the pieces indoors, that came out of a dialogue between me and the creative team at honeygrow. Oftentimes it’s collaboration to get to a good end result. I have been really interested in silhouettes recently. Although that’s not an original concept, it’s fun to see how you can push the subject and create something unique. I felt lucky that the honeygrow team was willing to try that with me. The Front Street Walls mural was based off an illustration I had done before, which I felt needed to exist somewhere in a public space. That wall just felt like the right place to do it.
hg: what is your personal favorite piece you’ve created to date?
nda: oh man, I don’t know! That’s tough because your perception of a piece morphs over time. The answer would be different every time you asked me. I do think that giant silhouette I painted out in rural Nevada recently felt like a great fit for the space.
hg: you recently traveled to several different countries, creating art along the way. Tell us a bit about your journey + how street art culture in foreign countries/cities compares to Philadelphia.
nda: I was recently in Italy and before that, Norway for a teaching/mural project. Last year I traveled around Europe painting and installing work. Although Philly has a way more relaxed attitude to street art than say NY, it still doesn’t compare to most of Europe. Large parts of the world don’t seem to have the same attitude about illegal art projects and it’s refreshing to go somewhere where that doesn’t feel criminal.
hg: in what countries/cities can we now find your work? Which was your favorite to visit/work in?
nda: well because the nature of some of the work is rather impermanent, I don’t know exactly where it’s still up. I just came back from Florence + Rome, where I installed a lot of paper pieces on the walls. According to a friend, most of them are already gone—that’s just how this thing goes. I believe there’s still a wall in Mexico City I did a few years back. Definitely some stuff in Norway, but other than that, I can’t really say. I have work in a lot of random areas on the East Coast and because my closest friend lives out in Reno, NV, there are a few murals there as well.
hg: what’s your dream project? If you could create or install anything, anywhere—what/where would that be?
nda: that’s a good question! I’ve always been fascinated with large-scale public sculpture projects.There’s something great about projects that can interact with their environment.
In terms of where, I suppose anywhere that’d have me! Although city spaces would provide a great backdrop, I’m always fascinated with large scale works that exist out in nature, specifically the desert.
hg: what’s the next big project on your radar? Any additional globetrotting coming up?
"Public art projects oftentimes build momentum like a heavy tank."
I have several things in the works, but I’m a little superstitious about talking about them until they’re definite. I have a couple of projects coming, including a group show this summer at Space 1026 that will keep me in the area, but I’m always looking for excuses to travel and work!
hg: where can we find some of your work around Philly, Baltimore, NYC or DC?
nda: I was just talking about this the other day. I think everything in D.C. is long gone. I did a mural + a sign for a restaurant in Baltimore that are still there, along with a little bit of non-commissioned work, I believe. There are a few murals still hanging in there in Brooklyn and Manhattan. My favorite piece is this one on an old shipping container with my good friend OverUnder. It keeps hopping around town and people will snap photos of it and tag me in them. Last I heard, it was somewhere in Midtown. I like that the work gets around!