Old Soul New Blood – Derek Nobbs



When we started RSDK and the Wreck Age mag we knew we wanted to surround ourselves with people who inspire us and share our passion for all things creative. As we began to compile a list of people we’d love to have a conversation with, Derek Nobbs’ name really stood out. We are truly honored that this amazingly talented Artist from the Pacific Northwest said yes, and took the time to chat with RSDK tribesman Damien Miles. Derek is an old soul with new blood, and a true master of his craft. -KITSCH

RSDK – So Derek, could you state your name, place of residence, age, and occupation for us?

Derek Nobbs (DN) – Derek Nobbs, Squalor Harbor (WA), old enough to be bitter, artist and scoundrel.

RSDK – I have to admit, I’m slightly jealous that you’re from a place called Squalor Harbor. It sounds intriguing.

DN – Well, it’s the name I’ve given this place. It seems to fit it, or at least my opinion of much of it. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its perks, its beauty or potential.


RSDK – Let me get this straight: Squalor Harbor exists geographically but its name is fictitious? Something you’ve created?

DN – More or less.

RSDK – Ha. So you draw, paint, and sketch full-time? How long have you been doing that? What did you do prior to?

DN -I draw, paint, sketch, research, and think about my work all the time. It’s a never-ending process. I’ve been drawing since I could sit up straight and hold a crayon, but I’ve only been painting in the medium I use now for about three years. Before that, I was painting in oils.



RSDK – Can you explain your current medium – from paper choice and treatment to sketch and paint tools?

DN – I paint using brushes, watercolor, gouache, and sometimes ink. My favorite paper to use is a thick 300lb hot press paper. I don’t sketch too much. Sometimes I think things out over weeks or months or an idea just comes to me. Either way, not many sketches are made. I do make a detailed drawing before I paint. That’s where the idea really gets worked out, except for color.

RSDK – It seems apparent in your works that, being from the PAC NW, you draw a lot of inspiration from the ocean and the trees. Where does the old-timey, historical aspect come from?

DN – I do draw a lot from my surroundings. This old house I live in played a part in my appreciation of the past and old things. When I thought about the house I live in, which has been standing since WWI, I started to have an appreciation for things being made to last, unlike today when most things are made to be thrown away, or break down – planned obsolescence. Also when I look at old things I wonder about their pasts, their stories, where they have been, who owned them, etc. I have an old ship’s carpenter tool chest that I picked up at a swap meet. I’m using it as a coffee table now and often when I look at it I wonder what ship it came from and who made it, or how old it is. I like that sense of mystery. It’s an open-ended narrative.


RSDK – What else affects your painting? Style? Stories? Other artists? Music?

DN – Old stories definitely play a part in my work, whether true, or a fable, or something I thought up after staring at an old ship’s carpenter chest. Music has an effect on me as well I’m sure, but I’m probably most influenced by old photos, like the old ambrotype portraits. Victorian era ephemera is also a big influence, especially the chromolithographs found on cigar box labels. I love the colors and the combination of a subject with a scene behind him mixed with the lettering of the name of the brand.

RSDK – Speaking of your surroundings, I’ve noticed several photos of your desk and all the treasures and antiques you’ve collected around it. Is there any one particular item there that you just can’t believe is yours -something that has stirred an emotion or been cause to create an entire piece of art?

DN – My desk does have a lot of treasures surrounding it. Every little piece was hand-picked by me or given to me, so they are all special in a way. I’m sure most people would look at them and just see a bunch of junk, but there are some pieces there that have inspired small parts in my work, but nothing so grand as an entire piece.


RSDK – Understanding how busy you are with your art, do you have any other pastimes or hobbies? Obviously, the mighty Mt. Baker is at your disposal. Maybe Westport or La Push offer up some surf swell for you? Or perhaps you own – and it wouldn’t totally shock me – a turn-of-the-century dive suit and prefer the beauties of the Pacific Ocean floor?

DN – Most of my time not spent painting is spent playing catch up with friends and family, nothing too grand, a lot of road trips exploring the Northwest’s geography, towns, and junk shops. No dive suit for me. I prefer to be in the trees looking down on the ocean or at least floating on top of the water. That said, I would love to have one of those old dive helmets.

RSDK – I’m curious how this Shaun White piece came together. How did you two connect? Was it an original piece? How much input was given and/or how much freedom were you given?

DN – Well, I was contacted by Burton asking if I would be interested in creating a board for Shaun, so after I got all the details I agreed and it went from there. Forgive my brief answer concerning Shaun White, I’m limited to how much I can say. Those are the original paintings I did for the project. They are actually part of bigger paintings.



RSDK – What does the near future hold for you in terms of art shows or potential jobs? Are there any long term goals that you’re striving in your art and in your life?

DN – Lots of things coming up, lots of ideas. I just designed a limited sterling silver signet ring, titled “Ahoy,” with Australia’s Rust & Regret. I will have a handful of those available soon. I have some shows coming up within the year. I’ll announce those as they get closer.

RSDK – Derek, from myself and the rest of the RSDK tribe, thanks for taking some time to fill us in on who you are. Please stay in touch.

DN –Momento mori.


The Art of Derek Nobbs Facebook

All images supplied by Derek Nobbs copyright 2013
Shaun White Action Shots,
Shaun walking: Photo credit: www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130129005922/es
Shaun boosting: Photo credit: Daniel Petty/The Denver Post photos.denverpost.com/2013/01/27/photos-winter-x-games-wrap-up-in-aspen/#3