Pillow Design Winner: ND Tank Brings the Outdoors In

Chalkboards make for super cool canvases. And the winner of our pillow design challenge is a rad piece of chalkboard art that is forever un-smudge-able, guaranteed.

ND Tank has a way of seamlessly bringing the outdoors in with his unique and beautiful style. And after seeing his beautiful wildflower design (that was actually drawn on a chalkboard analog-style!) you could say the choice for our pillow challenge winner was a black and white decision.

We talked to ND Tank about what (and where) inspires him, how this design came to life, and about his Artist Shop, where you can find even more of his stunning art. Check out what he had to say below!

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This design is a little different than your normal style! How did you come up with it?

Honestly, I never intended to do anything with this design. There’s a chalkboard in my parents’ kitchen that I often (though not often enough according to my mum) try to decorate seasonally. This collection of flowers and feathers is just what happened for summer.

I’m usually pretty terrible on a chalkboard but I kind of liked how this turned out so I Instagrammed it. Then the pillow challenge came along and I thought, why not, and just mocked up that photo on the pillows.

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The original chalkboard drawing via ND Tank’s Instagram

I half panicked when I found out that I won the challenge. I was away on vacation with my parents and I realized I didn’t have anything more than that quick picture of the chalkboard from my phone.  I made my mum immediately call my cousins who were cat-sitting for her back home to tell them not to leave any messages or drawings on the board, haha.

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The winning pillow design challenge pillow!

You’ve had a couple of wins over the past few months, and LOTS of printed designs! Excited?

It’s crazy! Especially the challenge wins. I’ve admired the work of so many of the artists on Threadless for so long and I never imagined I would find this kind of success here.

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ND Tank’s “MTN LP” design as a beautiful tapestry.

And I’m still always super excited to get a Threadless print, and I’m always looking for the next one ;)

So much of your art mixes music and the great outdoors – what are some of your favorite tunes? 

At this moment…Grouper’s Ruins is on the turntable, Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is in the Jeep, and the last 3 tracks listened to on Spotify were Hold On by Tom Waits, Vicious by Lou Reed, and Don’t Watch Me Dancing by Little Joy/

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“Reconnect” by ND Tank & The Paper Crane

And believe it or not, I never listen to music when I’m out in the woods, so I can’t help you out there. Not that I’m opposed to it…

When did you first know you wanted to be an illustrator?

What a question…

I think it probably started with a love of picture books as a kid, a love that never really went away. I still often buy them today. I don’t remember really thinking about illustration as a career option though.

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“Dam It!” by ND Tank

I guess the moment I really knew I wanted to pursue illustration came about 5-6 years ago when I came across Jon Klassen’s concept art for Coraline. I don’t remember how or why I came across it, but looking at it I think I realized right then how much I wanted and maybe needed to pursue something purely creative.

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Top left: “A Spot in the Wood” | Top right: “Feeling Small” | Middle: “Starry Night in the Mountains

You have an Artist Shop too, which looks amazing. With so many designs, how did you choose which ones to put in your shop?

Thanks! I wanted to put together a more curated selection for my Artist Shop and so I went with my favorite wilderness-inspired designs.

I’m really hoping to add more exclusive work and color variants there when I can find the time. So be on the lookout…

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“Those Summer Nights”

Your designs are so outdoors-inspired. What place in the great outdoors has been your biggest inspiration?

Home.

I live in West Virginia and am fortunate to be surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, which are hugely influential to my work. I’m just 10 minutes from the New River Gorge, and there’s even a state park in between. I can also just walk out my back door when time is short and I need a shot of inspiration

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“Moon Lake”

That sounds amazing. Do you have a favorite National Park?

Honestly though, I really haven’t made my way to very many National Parks. It’s something I need to work on. I’m going to cheat and say the New River Gorge National River. While its not technically a National Park, it’s part of the National Park system and it’s also where I get to call home. It’s a part of who I am and I’m in the habit of just calling it a National Park.

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Via ND Tank’s Instagram

If anyone’s ever on my Instagram, they’re sure to notice a lot of pictures from the park. If you’re not ever on my Instagram, you should be ;)

Bonus: Most often heard park ranger joke? “Don’t feed the animals! If you have extra food, feed a park ranger.” If I had a dollar…

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“Into the Grey”

How do you keep your ideas so fresh?

I’m so happy that you think I do! I’m always afraid of getting stuck in something that’s comfortable.

I guess I just try to get outside as much as I can, explore new artists, and try new things. Hopefully some of that exploration finds its way into my art.

Anything else?

As always, thanks Threadless and Threadpeeps of being awesome!

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Want even more ND Tank designs? Visit his Artist Shop!

Shop the winning design here!

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