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Nate Shaw '07: Turning life experiences into art

  • Nate Shaw
    Nate Shaw  An example of some of Nate Shaw's inspired artwork  Courtesy image
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Sometimes the best opportunities come from the worst rejections, as Nate Shaw discovered first-hand.

By the end of his senior year at the College, he had a “pretty clear path” he planned to follow, which started with attending graduate school. However, when his applications were rejected, he was forced to reconsider his plans. In the process, he ended up taking the first step toward a very successful art career.

Shaw grew up in central Virginia. He started taking art lessons in grade school, but didn’t immediately see it as a career path. When it came time to decide where to go to college, Shaw explains that he actually “didn’t put much thought into (his) decision.” He just wanted to attend a good public school.

Nate ShawBy the end of his freshman year, Shaw’s love for art bubbled to the surface and he was convinced that he should major in the field. Shaw enjoyed the traditional approach to art that the William & Mary faculty use and liked the focus on drawing from life. His main medias were painting and print-making, but says that no matter what the media or style, he was “always interested in artwork with a narrative.”

In his junior year, Shaw helped resurrect the Tangelo Club, one of the College’s art clubs. All that was left of it was live modeling sessions, so Shaw took charge and rejuvenated the membership and activities. In addition to Tangelo, he was a member of the cycling club; in fact, one of his best memories of his time at William and Mary is winning one of his races.

When Shaw’s graduate school plans fell through, he was faced with a very different life than the one he had been living as an undergraduate student. When debating what to do, he realized that he was “pretty serious about art,” and that it was “something that was going to stay with (him).”

In the meantime, however, he decided to find a job through the Student Conservation Association. This organization is “geared toward people still in or just out of college,” and helps build trails, educate people about the environment, and do similar tasks related to conservation. Shaw was able to get a job with them in Florida’s Everglades National Park. He learned a lot about plants and wildlife in the area, and even found inspiration for his art - Shaw wrote and illustrated an Everglades comic strip that was published in Wildland Weeds magazine.

This summer, Shaw moved to Bakersfield, Calif. to fight wildfires. He had some wild land fire training in Florida, and thought it would be an interesting experience. This fall he will be attending Drexel University to study digital art, which he knows will be “a good program.”

Shaw is confident that he will have a lot to work from at his new school. As he puts it, “usually the best work is done if something is going on in your life.”

With his unique background and recent experiences, Shaw is sure to be creating some incredible art.