Nathan O. Marsh
Clapping in movie theaters has never been more appropriate. If your next film experience includes artwork from Pittsburgh's Nathan O. Marsh, then get ready to applaud! Marsh's diverse body of work can be seen in films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015).
But don't stop there! Intricate projects like the Alphabet Apocrypha and his dabbling in stop-motion animation demonstrate Marsh's sheer imaginative and cheeky nature.
Marsh's work is most prominently seen in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which he considers to be one of his greatest accomplishments. The film's protagonist and his best friend spend their free time making their own films, spoofing some of their favorite movies. Marsh made numerous posters to represent the character's films.
Growing up, Marsh doodled a cast of cool and friendly dinosaurs that lived inside his head. Each of them had large eyes and were collectively named the "Eyes Guys."
"They lived in a world on the back of school notebooks. It was very popular," he says.
One of Marsh's biggest influences is naturalist David Attenborough. This introduction to biology is why Marsh continually gravitates toward weird animals as his main subject. He says:
"Fantastic Planet. I saw it once, maybe when I was nine. It had a cool VHS box, so I got my dad to rent it. That was some unsettlingly weird shit to my child mind. So, I forgot the name, but some of the imagery stuck with me for years. When I rediscovered it as an adult I was glad to see it truly was that weird and not something I misremembered."
Other inspiration comes from his love of Hieronymus Bosch, Maurice Sendak, Gary Larson, and Bill Watterson. This gorgeous children's book style can be seen in his illustrations for his project Alphabet Apocrypha (above and below).
Zoom in and out of these images to catch all of Marsh's details!
"I doubt ghosts are real. I’m a cynical person and fairly closed to the thought of stuff living after death. Phrases like 'energy lingering on' strike me as trying to weasel out of death’s permanence."
"UFOs seem much more plausible than ghosts. Aliens, I don’t know. I’ve read some pretty insane rants about aliens and most of them use phrases like 'extra-dimensional,' so they're not very convincing. Gray spacemen would be rad, though, and The X-Files was a formative part of my childhood, so I want to believe."
Marsh's past work typically relied on pen and ink, but more recently he has pushed himself to use watercolors. The shift makes him rethink color and the use of boundaries without specific line work. An example of this can be seen below in the new comic he's developing.
Never stop learning!
When Marsh and his high school friend Ed Bursch were brought on by director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon to work on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, it was their first venture into stop-motion animation. Their short animation added some levity to the very intense and personal feeling the director had as a teenager. Marsh shared photos from their process below.
And he's not done learning, he says:
"I’m starting community college to learn some programming too so my art can become interactive, so wait for that to drop in like five years."