Nick Cann has always loved to draw and has done so professionally his entire adult life. But he once got dethroned as school artist of choice by Willow elementary school classmate Jerry Garcia, who, we all know, eventually chose music.
“We did draw together,” said Nick, adding, “We had pudginess in common.”
The budding artist went on to attend Menlo-Atherton High School where he remembers two great art teachers, Mr. Heidsiek and Mr. Umberger. After graduating he attended San Jose State, the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and The Art Center in Los Angeles. In 1964, he was hired as a set illustrator for MGM Studio.
“It was great work,” he recalled. “I did things like draw the interior of an atomic submarine for the movie Ice Station Zebra.”
For the past 50 years, he’s been on his own. “I think of myself as a problem solver as much as an artist. I just solve the problem with a pen.”
Nick’s done set designs for television, credit designs for films, airplane bulkhead murals for Continental Airlines and murals for airports and department stores.
While keeping up his freelance business, he added teaching to his daily routine about a decade ago. “I’d never considered teaching, but I got involved with a group here in Napa and started with some fifth graders,” he said. “One student told me her mother had told her that drawing wasn’t important. I told her “that chair you are sitting in had to be drawn.”
Nick has always kept a sweet spot for his M-A days. For one, he’s married to classmate Peggy Peppard and together they attend class of ’60 reunions. “I usually do a drawing for organizer Bob Beckstrom,” he said. “Fact is I hope to never stop drawing.”
Photo and illustration courtesy of Nick Cann