Home / Columns / Off the Cuff / Agile Genius
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Agile Genius

Google+ Pinterest Print

Nick Waraksais redefining what it means to be a free-lance artist bit by bit. The MIAD design and UW- Milwaukee music graduate who fused passions for painting, fashion, performance and motion graphics has cropped up in Milwaukee and Chicago commercial and indie scenes. Transforming a laptop into a seductive, mysterious world for enchanted campaigns such as Alverno.edu is his bread and butter. Branding his Wounded Line fashion label and trading random concertina riffs with his violinist brother in the ensemble KSA are his lifeblood. Woven together they are his renaissance-gypsy persona, the intimacy that animates his work. Underneath everything is the unifying theme of breaking free.

Since your work seems to be less structured, is it accurate to compare your designs to jazz?
I design interior spaces that want to look like artwork. My style is very organic. I started out going for an established look, but every time I approached a project from a “designer” standpoint it kind of lost something. It’s more like pulling things in from all over and all of a sudden it works. It reminds me of a Thomas Edison quote concerning the process of invention: “Now, I definitely know more than a thousand ways how NOT to make a light bulb.”

I grew up as a hardcore Lego person. My brother and I built entire villages that were two tables long. My brother Jordon’s were perfectly constructed while mine were crazy and done really fast. They would probably fall apart, but there was beauty in the movement.

Why is spontaneity so important to your projects?
There’s a difference between slow genius and fast genius. I’m sculpting on a computer, only it’s faster. The immediacy brings an implied movement to my compositions. To match the speed, I recently had to get rid of the mouse and go with a pen tool. My workflow had to adapt. The whole screen is now a more intuitive space.

What drew you to Alverno’s campaign?
I composed and recorded the music which is keyboard oriented and all the samples are performed. The concept, directed by “anti-agency” The Yes Men, called for a fluid, dreamlike animation to invoke the freedom to become anything. The spots featured real female artists. The whole campaign is about supporting women.

How did you go from graphic arts to fashion?
After graduation, I felt I had nothing but the loan! I realized everything I did was on a disc and I wanted something tangible. That’s where my paintings came in. I began combining them with broken pieces of vintage frames. The collection inspired the concept behind my fashion line. It’s like the frame is broken and the art is spilling out.

How do you place a monetary value on what you do?
I’m still trying to figure that out. In the past year I’ve been getting calls before the idea is developed, art directing whole campaigns from concept to execution. I sometimes feel guilty about charging my day rate when the idea comes right away. But there’s something to be said about just walking in there and nailing it.