Cartoonist Charles Schultz once said, “Life is like a 10-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.” Nick Nortier—owner of Old Growth Creative in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a full-time illustrator and mural painter who also pursues woodworking, screen printing, and spoken word poetry—is a man dedicated to taking advantage of every creative gear.
When we recently asked him over for a visit, we shared a bit about who we are, but mostly we let him do his own exploring. And then we asked him to create a piece of art for us that depicted what he observed. For Nick, it all came back to gears. Gears turning across Byrne departments and disciplines. Gears moving individuals as one—as family—each relying wholly on the other.
He wanted his artwork for Byrne to underscore the idea that when we succeed, or when we fail, we do so together. If one wheel stops, or one member of the team can’t move forward—the whole system shuts down. That really spoke to us. Nick’s art also features aspects of technology making itself at home in the natural world. And fancifully, the entire machine—our company—is shown as its own planet of sorts, flying untethered toward the next challenge. The next adventure. In the end, Nick’s illustration captured some essentials truths for Byrne, as well as his own creative process. Work through every gear you have. Work together. And do your best to keep all of the wheels turning.