Nathan Kostechko: "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't"

Photo: Joshua Spencer
A month into the Covid-19 "shelter in place" order and it's obvious that many of us have had to adapt to our new way of life. Small businesses all over the world are re-strategizing and adapting to the new climate. Artists and creatives are all finding a way to keep pushing through as well. Nathan Kostechko is a working Tattoo and Fine Artist from Los Angeles. His Echo Park private studio has been shut down for the forceable future as it is illegal to tattoo anyone currently. Nate had a gallery opening planned of new paintings but has had to re think the release as the quarantine took place. We caught up with him as he gets ready to launch the show completely online Friday 4/16 at 10 am.

What’s up Nathan How are you Man?

Hey Mirko, I'm doing well, thanks. Hope you're staying safe and sane.

‘All We Need Is Nothing” 40”x30” Watercolor, Acrylic, Charcoal, Pencil, Colored Pencil and Pastel on Arches Paper Adhered to Wood Panel 

 It’s a weird time for everyone right now especially artist. What was the thinking behind your online show "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t?"

 This is definitely some strange times. Funny thing is I'm used to hiding out, always in the studio working on art. Not much has changed other than I'm legally not allowed to tattoo. Originally I was scheduled to have a gallery showing of 'Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't' at the end of March but was canceled due the global health crisis COVID-19. I wasn't going to let this stop me from showing my work so I came up with the online exhibition idea and worked it all out with two friends of mine. I'm fortunate to have tech savvy friends who made this possible. Creating an online viewing room experience that made you feel as if you were at the gallery, seeing the work in detail and also shots of the work displayed on the wall.


’Strong, Clear-Minded and Blind’ 24”x18” Watercolor, Acrylic, Charcoal, Colored Pencil and Pastel on Arches Paper Adhered to Wood Panel


Loving the darker coastal visuals from this body of work. What was the inspiration for this?

 This new body of work are a reminiscing of a life. Plein Air paintings of places once traveled as a postcard of the past. Pin-up girls reminding one of the relationships had along the way. Folklore mermaids recalling the deepest darkest fantasies. Like the uncertain outcomes of life my process is not planned but a stream of consciousness allowing things to fall into place on their own. The grim reaper appears throughout the series to suggest the inevitable. 



’You’re Only What You See’ 30”x24” Watercolor, Acrylic, Charcoal and Pastel on Arches Paper Adhered to Wood Panel

How are you spending your time now without being able to tattoo?

 I'm actually enjoying having a slow-paced life since quarantine started. My days start with coffee and taking my dog Trip out. I check the news every few days, making a conscious decision to not let it feed into my fears of what's going on. I spend the day working on art and listening to music all day long, I've set up a nice home studio. Been going back in forth between my actual studio and my home to work on things. Now that I'm not tattooing all day and night I can actually cook meals, get on phone calls with family and friends and handle personal errands or ship out artwork. At the end of the day its feels like it went by like a flash. Staying productive and creating work has helped keep my sanity being cooped up.


‘All The Trails That We Made’ 40”x30” Watercolor, Acrylic and Charcoal on Arches Paper Adhered to Wood Panel


What do you think the future holds for your industry? Do you think there will be any changes?

 Right now there is so much uncertainty. Tattooing is so up close and personal, not only handling someones blood but having them breathe right on you for hours on end. It'll be really difficult to figure out a protocol for handling clients. Not knowing if they've been exposed or are currently sick, we will need to take temperatures and have a new consent form created. The health department made a mandatory shut down of tattooing and we will be fined if we practice. So how the hell are we expected to pay a shops rent if we legally aren't allowed to do what pays the bills? Unfortunately a lot of shops will close, some tattooers may quit and have to get a 'real job'. Like any industry a lot of people don't save and plan for emergencies so things will fall part.  People will always want tattoos, especially during down times it's a way for people to feel uplifted. The act of tattooing and getting tattooed has so much unexplainable magic. So once the dust settles and if you made it through the COVID-19 Battle we will back at it working harder than ever. If we are allowed.


’Life Comes Too Quickly’ 14”x11” Watercolor, Colored Pencil, Pastel, Charcoal and Acrylic on Arches Paper Adhered to Wood Panel

 People are cooped up at home for the foreseeable future. Do you have  some personal recommendations to get through these times and stay inspired?

 Don't watch the news, don't go digging around google looking at articles about the virus. Check one news provider once a day, give yourself 5 -10 minutes then stop. The media is designed to ruin your mind and drill fear into us. Other than that start doing the thing you've always dreamed about, especially if you can't work. Draw, paint, pick up your guitar, shoot photos, read a damn book, make playlists and send them to friends, call your mom, perfect making a steak, support local and small business, save your money, live out some weird fantasies with your partner, avoid watching tv endlessly. I've been making lists the night before so the next day I can fall back on it to achieve things I set out to do and not lose track. Most of all be kind to each other and help each other out if you can. 



 Thanks for your time dude, how and where can people check out the show?

 You're welcome Mirko and Thank You! Honored to be interviewed and included with General Admission. Big fan of your brand. Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't can be viewed only at from April 17- May 15, 2020. Hope you all enjoy and Thanks again, stay safe and healthy.