Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Nick Nixon is an accomplished illustrator, writer and voiceover talent. Growing up, he became accustomed to being “the artist” in classes at school and, though he aspired be be the next Normal Rockwell, Nixon instead wound up in the field of advertising and graphic design, and in 1975 he founded Nixon & Associates, an advertising and design firm with clients around the globe.
As an illustrator, Nixon has provided artwork for books including Candy Moon and Candy Moon Choo, both by children’s author Londa Hayden, and he has written for Chicken Soup for the Soul. He has penned humor articles and drawn cartoons for Delivered Magazine and CH Reader Magazine, and he has done layout, writing and illustration work for various publications by Bartlett Christian Writers Group.
Nixon recently finished writing his first novel, The Frame, a detective tale set in the 1940s, and he is currently working on the sequel, Murder on the Fourteenth Green.
To learn more about Nixon and his work, follow him on Facebook.
What was your upbringing like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I was raised in a Christian home on a well-balanced combination of strict discipline and great encouragement.
Growing up, who were your biggest creative influences?
I was more interested in illustration than writing back then. Cartoon strips, comic books, any illustrations I saw in magazines, the newspapers, or in books influenced me. And MAD Magazine. The artists, illustrators and cartoonists in that magazine, when I was a kid, were the best!
What sort of challenges did you face during the early days of Nixon & Associates, and in looking back over your time with the firm, what are some of your fondest memories?
Wow, that includes 35 years of memories! In the beginning, I worked out of a spare bedroom in our house, worked a lot of nights and weekends, and spent my days visiting clients and suppliers. Eventually renting an office and hiring other artists, buying additional equipment and supplies. As the workload grew, so did my staff. As the clients increased, so did my income. I loved every bit of it: the struggles, the successes, the people I interacted with, my employees, my clients, my suppliers, the feeling of accomplishment. It was a lot more fun and fulfilling before computers came along. I enjoyed all the hand work, the drawing boards, the dark room and all the camera equipment. I enjoyed working with photographers and directing the photo shoots. I enjoyed the limited travel to locations and out of town clients. I enjoyed the respect and relationships with other professionals in my profession. And so very much more!
How did the influx of computers affect your career in advertising?
I used to say it took the art out of art. I no longer needed as many artists on my payroll. Clients figured out so many things they could now do, that they used to rely on us to do. Computers put many artists, photographers, printers and other related businesses out of business. It made global communications and doing business internationally much easier.
How did you initially get involved with writing and illustrating children’s stories?
After I retired, a friend of mine in our church died. I found out that he had been reading to children at our church’s Mother’s Day Out program and also in the Day Care Center. So, I picked up where Harold left off. I would redraw some of the illustrations in those books for the kids to color. One day, I made up a story on the way to the church, so I told it to the kids. They loved it! After reading some of those books and looking at the illustrations, I knew I could make up stories and draw as well as that.
What inspired the story of The Frame?
I have always written humor columns and stories, so I decided I would write a parody on The Maltese Falcon and call it The Maltese Chicken. When one of my writer friends heard me talking about it, she gave me a book on how to write a P.I. novel. I could not put it down and I was hooked. One night as I was trying to get to sleep, my mind was working overtime and the idea for The Frame came to me. The next day, I started it. 87,000 words and and less then three months later, I finished it.
Are there any contemporary artists or illustrators that you particularly admire?
Well, you already know what a fan I am of Norman Rockwell. I love to do caricatures and I admire anyone who can do that really well. I mean really well. There are a few. I always loved the illustrations and cartoons in MAD Magazine when I was a kid. They were classic! The last time I saw a MAD Magazine, I was shocked! It has gone the way of movies now. Too dirty for me.
What advice would you offer to aspiring illustrators?
Learn as much about computers as you can. But beware, because of computers, fees are greatly reduced. Have you considered medicine as a profession and illustration as a hobby?
From the current crop of candidates, who do you think is the most qualified to be the next President of the United States?
Donald Trump. As he puts it, he will do a helluva job. Yes, I do believe that! Washington needs a big shakeup and no one will be able to do that like Trump. He is an excellent businessman and a patriot. If this mess we are in can be fixed, I am convinced he can do it!
How did you meet your wife?
I met my first wife in Art Appreciation class in college. I met my second wife while she was working for a client of mine.
Where can one find the best BBQ in Memphis?
The Germantown Commissary and Corky’s have the best reputation, but there are host of others. I am not a fan of BBQ. No matter who prepares it, it all tastes the same to me.
What are you working on next?
I put Murder on the Fourteenth Green, the sequel to The Frame, on hold while I am illustrating a series of children’s books that I wrote.