Nathan's Bright Print Studio

Nathan's Bright Print Studio

Nicole Crowder
Aug 30, 2013

Name: Nathan Hill of Nathan Hill Design
Location: Petworth, Washington D.C
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years; renting

DC-based graphic designer Nathan Hill is a busy man. He's the principal designer at Nathan Hill design, a board member for the Washington DC chapter of the AIGA design organization, a faculty member for the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and the proud papa to two adorable dogs, Haven and Penny. But anyone who knows Nathan knows that in addition to a fantastic eye for design, he also has a great sense of humor. One stop at this colorful studio to marvel at his fascination (ie. obsession) with pickles and you'll see what we mean.

Nathan has one of those “how did you score this?” studios. It’s on the top floor of the building, just over a popular restaurant in D.C’s up and coming Petworth neighborhood. He found the space via a Craigslist post by a nonprofit, who at the time was looking for artists to rent it out. The pine wood floors and plentiful sunlight introduce a freshness to the studio that is further enhanced by Nathan’s affinity for bright colors and…pickles. Yes, pickles. Since his childhood Nathan has had an obsession with pickles, and his studio is filled with references to them. He even plans to create a large pickle installation onto the wall between the studio and his restroom — a further example of his sense of humor. And once a month in the evenings he hosts a happy hour for creatives in the city, whichs take place on the rooftop, accessed through the window in his studio.

There is a Scandinavian meets Art Deco feel to his studio, with geometric shapes, strong, clean lines and plenty of bright colors. It’s a one-stop shop that is also a printing press where Nathan designs posters, brochures, flyers, even his own collection of Nathan Hill bags and totes. (I purchased one last year, and it’s one of my favorites!)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: It's a chill artist-loft-inspired workspace with modernist flavor and a huge helping of the handmade. The walls are covered with a mixture of our own work and the work of other artists we find inspiring. I also love books! We have a growing collection of art books and publications dividing the space and proudly displayed. I can't seem to help myself – my home is also a Mecca for endless stacks of books lying about. I wanted a workspace that was inviting for my clients, yet inspiring enough that anyone spending time in it would want to make something cool and learn something new.

Favorite Element: Pickles! I love pickles. I love drawing them, sewing them, painting them and eating them. They remind me of my childhood when my mom would can and preserve fruits and vegetables. Strawberries too! They remind me of growing up with my sister. I feel like pickles and strawberries are just too good to only eat.

Biggest Challenge: Patience. I want it all to happen right away. Always have. I try and remind myself to trust in the things that are meant to be. Over the years I've definitely learned to enjoy the time it takes to build something just as much as the rewards once it's arrived. I feel like we're on the way ;)

What Friends Say: My friends love hanging out in the space. When we're not hustling on a design project we're sharing vino with friends, watching films projected on our walls, or making something. It's like a tree house for grown-ups filled with art and design.

Biggest Embarrassment: Promoting myself and what we do. Whether on Facebook or in person, I always feel awkward and far too self-conscious when I do. I can't help feeling it's somewhat uncouth even though I know it's how folks come to know what's happening with us. I'm always envious of those who can do it gracefully.

Proudest DIY: Starting my studio from ground zero. I started out being largely self-taught and working at various companies in DC. I found myself working alongside some pretty impressive people along the way. After about 10 years I decided it was time for a break, and I pursued a formal design degree. Soon after I took a huge leap of faith and opened my doors with a few contacts and a lot of determination. Three years later we're steadily growing and working on some pretty sweet projects with some amazing clients. Very proud of this DIY for sure.

Biggest Indulgence: Shoes. I have so many, and I feel like I could keep going even though I'm running out of space. I know it's not original to say this, but it's true... you can never have too many!

Best Advice: Best advice I would want to give is something I was told when first starting out. I was reminded that design is an ever-learning process. It's simple, but makes me secure knowing that as long as I do this I will always have something to learn.

Dream Sources: Empire of The Sun, Printed Matter, Inc., Masterpiece Mystery, Charles and Ray Eames

Resources of Note:



Thanks, Nathan!

(Images: Nicole Crowder (2) + Maggie Winters (all others))

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