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Meet Nate Cunningham

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nate Cunningham.

Nate, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It all started on a dark and stormy night. There was a crash of thunder, a dash of lighting, and behold! Baby Nate was born into this realm. Little did the world know what it was in for…

I have been interested in art and creating ever since I can remember. I was the student who would be doodling on everything and anything that I could get my hands on. It was not unusual for my schoolwork to be riddled with drawings and creations regardless of the subject. PE quickly became my least favorite course due to the lack of drawing surfaces provided…

As I grew through the grades, my growth and enjoyment in art also grew. It really became something that was greatly important to me when I started doing art lessons with my grandmother, Lillian, from a very young age. She was an amazing oil painter and would teach me in her art studio within her home on weekends. It was from these beginnings that my passion for creative communication and the impact of self-expression blossomed.

I went on to California State University Long Beach and began as an illustration major. I soon realized that it wasn’t just the art that I enjoyed, but it was art that served a positive platform for communicating. This was a call to action. I loved art, yet I also loved communication… What to do? I choose to switch my major to communication studies and started a post-bachelors teaching credential for secondary school education within the subject of visual art. This allowed me to continue making art while at the same time watching students express and make their own masterpieces. This is when I decided Mr. Cunningham would be a long and boring teacher’s name and shortened it to Mr. Ham. I can not wait to see where this creative communication path leads me next.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been about as smooth of a road as 17 pieces of sandpaper in a box on the back of a pickup truck on a bumpy road experiencing a 5.8 earthquake. Which is to say, its been a tad bit difficult.

I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley. This is not a kind environment for a sensitive kid who wants to get a liberal arts degree and make art. I did not want to be an engineer, a doctor, or scientist, which basically meant in the mindest of the area that I would amount to very little. The academic pressures on students within Silicon Valley are enormous and only growing. In high school, my studio art teacher created a space where students did not feel this pressure. He treated and taught us in such a way that allowed my creativity to blossom allowing me to break away from the collective unconscious mindset of the area. This inspired me to go on to one day teach students at the high school level in hopes of making the same positive change.

Please tell us more about your art.
I am known for being that oddball artist who has a pig in his smock pocket and Mr. Ham on his name tag.

I still make personal projects, but mostly for myself. I have loved teaching at the CSULB’s Young Artists’ Camp for both elementary and middle school students. After the pandemic took its swing and good ol’ COVID-19 put a hard stop to in-person teaching, I brought my services online with virtual art and mindfulness courses.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The year is 2099… Spiderman is no longer Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara has taken up the mantel… (I may be a bit of a spiderman nerd and proud) Anyway, back to the story: Time is a social construct…

I hope to find myself teaching inside of a classroom if the world reopens by then, which I strongly believe it will at least in some regard. I want many different paths for my career ranging from creative communications and marketing within companies to personal life coaching through mindfulness and art to working as an art therapist with children or struggling teens. Only time shall tell where the road shall lead.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

YAC Student Gallery Photos by Sophia Dao

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