It all started with a viral video that inspired Nick Bultman to pursue a style of art that has become an obsession for him. Experimenting with painting techniques like pouring paint onto a canvas with a dustpan and finding organic movement, Nick Bultman developed his style of intuitive based artwork. Although he has always been the “creative type”, he really honed in on his craft with support from his wife and a little help from social media, which Bultman says helped validate and amplify his artistic intuitions. 

Instagram: @nbultman_art

Favorite snack?

Kombucha, especially the Master Brew. It calms me down so much.

Morning person or night owl?

I used to be a night owl, but now I’m a morning person, especially when I’m super excited about an art project.

One thing you can’t live without?

My phone! I’m definitely addicted.

What would your superpower be?

If I had to choose one, probably flying. I have dreams where I’m moving through the air like one of those FPV drones, swooping down like a falcon, then returning back to the air at a high speed. That feeling of limitless freedom would be so amazing.

Best advice you’ve received? 

“Just be you.” My grandpa Herb would repeat that to me during my whole life. I had struggled a lot of my life finding my convictions and confidence in choosing my own path. But I’ve found myself in this newfound art path which feels like I’m in the right spot. If only I just listened to grandpa Herb earlier!

How did you get your start as an artist? 

Only until August 2021 did I really pursue “painting” and posting my creations on social media. It all started from a viral @brturnerart video I saw on Instagram where he poured paint onto a canvas, in some sort of “spine” formation; I thought it looked so cool and I had to try it. So I followed my new obsession, bought some materials from Michael’s and posted my results every week. Some of those videos are quite amateur and I debated deleting them but they really show how far I’ve come in such a short time. I’ve been obsessed with experimenting with innovative painting techniques ever since then.

How have you developed your style over the years? 

My style has been uncovering itself to me and becoming more refined as the years pass. It feels like more of an “uncovering”  process than a “developing” one, since I think a lot of it is unconscious. I still have moments of total confusion when looking at my Instagram feed and thinking “where the hell did I come up with this stuff?” I’ve realized the latency between my creative intuitions and getting a painting physically created is shrinking, since I’ve gotten more advanced with my process. So it’s really exciting to be able to bring my style to life so quickly now, whereas before, it was a mere, unrealized instinct.

How would you describe your style of art? 

I would describe my current art style as abstract, energetic, dynamic, and intuitive. I didn’t formally study art so I can’t exactly categorize it into a genre, per say. But I’m very influenced by action sports, graffiti, sci-fi, music and philosophy. I’ve also learned that I have an apparent rebellious and intense energy that swirls inside me on a daily basis, which you may be able to infer from my paintings. As of now, my art isn’t intended to represent anything that exists in the real-world, rather I want the viewer to come up with their own interpretation of the forms they see. I want people to be captivated by the energy behind the paint movements because that’s what I feel when making them. I’m sure I’ll venture into different creative genres over time. I’m open to whatever energy motivates me to create.

Going back through your instagram, your first post was from 2021 – what were you up to before that? 

That’s right, my first post was in August 2021. Prior to that, I had just gotten engaged to my (then) fiance, Lauren. We bought a house and she graciously lent me the garage to be my art studio until I got to rent an actual studio space. Before that, I had been trying to figure out my career, starting in a manufacturing engineering rotation program out of college, then transitioning into software sales (which I still work full-time). Also, I had been a Track and Field athlete (shot put, discus, hammer throw) practically my whole life which is why I resonate so strongly with the idea of measurable self-improvement and pushing myself to be the best at whatever I put my mind to.

In terms of my artistic journey, I’ve always been a creative-type. Just to give a few examples: when I was a kid, I loved making scooter video montages with my little brothers and editing videos to my favorite underground punk rock songs. I took a computer animation class in High School and was that kid who ignored all the formal instructions behind the animation programs and instead, was obsessed with doing frame by frame, anime-style fight scenes. Back in college, I loved coming up with creative marketing ideas and even had my own hat “business”, which was making fun of the brand Supreme. The brand was called “Shame” and were these embroidered patches that used the same color/font as Supreme’s logo, which I ironed on to hats and sold them (as gifts to friends and family, sorry IRS). When reflecting on these funny moments, it’s obvious now that I feel most fulfilled when I’m zoned in on some creative endeavor. Usually it’s something that I’m doing purely for the sake of the creation; I just get so lost in the moment when I’m creating something and this is where I feel most confident and purposeful.

How did the pandemic affect your artistic life? 

The pandemic actually didn’t have any noticeable effect on my artistic life. At the time, I was transitioning between jobs, adjusting to remote work life, training my puppy and getting engaged! I truly didn’t even have time nor interest in doing anything creatively outside the flow of my daily life.

How does social media play a role in your success as an artist? 

I think my sudden virality on social media has validated my artistic intuitions. Further, all of the support and exposure has given me a chance to double-down on this previously dormant part of my personality, since I can now explore my artistic side with seriousness, and get paid for it! Social media is clearly an amplifier for me, so I’m extremely thankful for the algorithms (especially Instagram) for connecting me to so many fans.

How do you go about planning your next piece? 

When I first started, my process used to be as simple as trying to replicate a cool technique or painting I saw online. During the process of trying, I would end up creating something unique to my style. After repeating that process enough times, I’ve inevitably gotten a little more sophisticated. Now, I do a few things: firstly, I feel out a color palette that sparks my interest. Next, I think about how I can push myself to layer in a new technique within each new painting. It can be a simple thing like adding a neon geometry around a dutch pour, or as technical as having object shadows pertain to the glow of the neon light, rather than having shadows that are inconsistent with the neon light’s direction. Finally, I like to make sure I set up the conditions that allow me to be flexible during this prototyping process. For example, I will mix extra paint and use spare canvases to practice and convey my intended splatter motions, the ratios necessary, the color arrangement, and the motion itself. That way I can build up the muscle memory to repeatedly convey my motion to the prepared large canvas. But if something else comes up that deviates from my initial motivation, I am open to that as well. Then, when I’m ready, I will perform the movement and accept the paint as it lies. I will spend hours, sometimes days, doing digital renders to both identify the paint’s “motion story” and then add controlled layers of detail which emphasize the organic paint motion.

When was the first time you put paint in a dustpan? 

It was exactly December 8th, 2021. I looked back at my TikTok upload where I put some green and aqua paints in concentric circles, and haphazardly dragged the paint down a vertical canvas. I ended up not liking the result and tilted the canvas which ended up saving the pour, in my opinion. Since then, I was hooked. The dustpan’s organic paint movements have such an interesting, intuitive motion to them, which is difficult to capture with brush alone. It’s almost like having gravity as a painting parameter makes the painting appear more “realistic” or “full of life”. I love how by simply arranging the colors in the dustpan differently and changing your stretching speed, you can see a completely unique result. The possibilities are truly vast.

What tools do you work with mostly? 

I mostly work with my 3 foot long custom brush, various dustpans, masking tape, X-acto knife, and airbrush. I’ve found these tools to allow me to really bring my paintings to life since I can convey controlled order juxtaposed by the chaos of the dustpan splashes.

Where do you find inspiration for the color palettes you choose? 

I’m open to inspiration wherever it comes from. Sometimes it’s purely dependent on my mood, where I’ll have a burst of inspiration to curate a group of colors that reflect different emotions at that time. Some recent ones that come to mind are anger, which I resonated with concrete grays and fiery lava-like color with sharp lines. Another may be an existential feeling, where I’ll explore the vast blackness and occasional vibrant colors that space galaxies have to offer. Sometimes I just want to find some trippy shapes, where I’ll explore alien-like, globby greens. Occasionally, I find inspiration from the color palette behind someone else’s artwork on instagram, or notice an especially amazing sunset and refer back to it when assembling my colors. Sometimes color choice is as simple as deciding that I want to add some new color variety to my Instagram profile grid. For example: I haven’t worked with pinks in a very long time so I’ll probably do something with pink very soon. When thinking of my overall color composition, I like to keep a consistent color / theme within the painting, as I want my paintings to be somewhat relatable and familiar in palette. Some other common associations are red = love, white = light / energy. I try to include higher and lower values of that color theme, as well as plenty of black to make the colors POP.