We had the good fortune of connecting with Nate Libby and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nate, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
There was never a point in my life where I thought about giving up completely. Like many types of journeys in life, there are ups and there are downs – Personally and professionally. I sometimes thought my downs were deeper than everyone else’s, of course I was just being dramatic. Being visual artist doesn’t have a handbook, nor is the path from start to finish a straight (or even solid) line. The small successes and the satisfaction of my clients has kept me moving forward. Critiques and personal feedback keep me wanting more. As I grow as an artist and as I see my work change and shift to reflect the world, I know that it is my duty to keep moving on. Sometimes a bad piece of work can feel like a sign to give up. If I were to tell a young person (artist or otherwise) how to know if they are going in the {right} direction, I would say to just listen to those little feelings and intuitions. Trust the hunches and LISTEN to what people have to say.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
For me my art has always been about people. As humans we experience so much stimulation from culture, politics, science and media that we often don’t think twice about the visuals we encounter. We accept beauty as an aesthetic and accept nothing less than perfection – As a lover of all things quirky and a natural jokester, I try to blend humor and oddities together with the individuals around us. In my photography and my portraiture, I try to look for the unseen in both people and culture. I love alluring things, and I love the “aesthetic” but I don’t always agree with what media portrays as beautiful.

I was raised in a state known for its natural beauty – I then moved to another with even views more outstanding. I grew up thinking that beauty and aesthetic was a natural form of perfection. It was hard to set myself apart as an artist when my interest included things that weren’t so usual. If my desire to become an artist WAS accepted, it was expected that I fall into the norms of the field. Was I going to paint seascapes? Would I find myself as a caricature artist or wedding photographer? These things seemed lucrative but also complacent. I knew I had skills, and I wanted to use them in the ways that suited me. It wasn’t until college that I learned that art was about so much more than beauty. Historically, it pointed out the flaws, the unfairnesses and the importances in the world. This was what I had to do. In my art, I was drawn to the human story – I love pop culture and I have always had an obsession with the ways media could DIRECTLY affect the choices that we made. Just how were these people on screen affecting the decisions we made in everyday life? Were there other messages that were seeping through? I set out to ask my own questions about this. Even as a “lifestyle” photographer, I hope that others will come to me so that I can help them express their own uniqueness.

I would tell anyone that was pursing a life of creativity to never fall into a place that you don’t fit. You have passions and questions you want answered through your art. Ask them. Put your whole self into your work. I didn’t see success until I stopped trying to be what others wanted me to be.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Colorado is a wonderful and diverse place to live. You can start the day off in the mountains without a soul around you, and end the night with dinner in the city. As a newcomer to the state, I have spent a lot of time exploring what makes Colorado truly unique. There are some very untouched places in nature here that cannot be overlooked. My first drive through the mountains changed my entire perspective. You cannot stop in Colorado without a trip to the peaks.

Denver/FoCo/NoCo have so many opportunities, that it would take much more than a week to explore them all. As the pandemic fizzles and our cites and businesses become safer, spots are welcoming you to come and experience what they have to offer. Locally sourced food and brews, galleries and nightlife – I highly recommend a walk around the art district in Denver or a day trip to Horsetooth reservoir. Stop at Spoons in FoCo for some organic and delicious soup. The best thing about Colorado is the pride that they take in being local and unique – Coming from the east coast, there is an attitude in people that you cannot find anywhere else.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We can never take all of the credit in being where we want to be. My life and my career might have gone in so many different directions if it weren’t for a handful of individuals and support systems I encountered along the way. As a child, my wild imagination and my sense of being different were both working for and against me. I was lucky enough to have a supportive family and friends who pushed me to always follow my passions. It took my five majors and three colleges to arrive and the conclusion that I wanted to make art for a living. Had it not been for the constant support of my family (my loving father in particular) I would never have accepted myself. Coming out as queer in rural Maine, struggling with my mental health and addictions and growing up lower-middle class have all impacted me in ways that I cannot explain. I would have fallen victim to stagnancy and doubt had it not been for these people.

It was also my honor and privilege to work closely with professionals at the University of Maine at Farmington. My professors, Dawn Nye, Katrazyna Randall, Elizabeth Olbert among others, were both my mentors and my friends. They pushed me in ways outside the norms of education. They supported me and my struggles, and they introduced me to art theory, philosophy and social justice. I always envied their lives, living, teaching and breathing art. They encouraged me to go in to do the same for others.

As a Maine native now living in Colorado – I would have to lastly give my thanks to my aunt, Higher-Ed Heroine, Katharine Hiltbrand – Even from afar it was her PASSION for my work and my individuality that led me to seek greater opportunities. My move from East to west, from small to large would never have been possible without her support. She gave me a place to spread out a bit and to focus on the things I love.

Website: www.fortyfourphotography.net

Instagram: @nlib44 @fortyfour_photography

Facebook: Forty-Four Photography

Image Credits
Forty-Four Photography Art

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