Hi everyone! I am excited to be able to share this new interview with puzzle artist Nathanael Mortensen. He has done a few puzzles in collaboration with Ravensburger, with other projects in the works. His images are bright and cheerful, and it was a pleasure to communicate with him and learn more about him! In my blog, I am trying to look for new ways to connect with puzzlers, so my blog is evolving from puzzle and brand reviews to a more eclectic approach where I try to have the readers learn more about the artists as well as the images.

Nathanael Mortensen

Please enjoy!

Me: Can we learn a little bit about your background? Tell us about yourself!

Nathanael: I spent much of my childhood drawing at the dining table with my siblings. We all enjoyed drawing and sharing our creativity with one another. I often drew landscapes, trees, and animals inspired from my time I spent in nature. When I wasn’t drawing, I was exploring the Rocky Mountains. In my teen years, I enjoyed playing saxophone and soccer with my friends in high school. My desire to paint ignited in college. I began focusing more on color and composition and less on the little details. Before long, I was completing a whole painting every class period. Later I began bringing larger canvases to each class until I couldn’t find a bigger canvas to bring. After college, I started designing board games. With the intent to illustrate my own games someday, I began teaching myself how to paint digitally. A few years later, after illustrating many board games, Ravensburger asked me if I wanted to illustrate a jigsaw puzzle with them. I was over the moon! I said yes, of course!

Nathanael Mortensen

Me: How did you get started with doing art for puzzles?

Nathanael: Long story short, I wanted to learn how to paint digitally so one day I could paint my own board game designs. While learning digital painting, I enjoyed painting bottles so much that they became my everyday warm-up. I was attracted to potions because they were simple shapes I could paint in one sitting. I also loved painting the vibrant colors and liquid inside. I enjoyed studying how light filters through the liquid and reflects off the glass. Each time I painted a potion, I worked hard to make it better than the ones before. It was my potion artwork that inspired Ravensburger to connect with me.

 Ravensburger Magical Potions, Nathaneal Mortensen

Me: Can you tell us a bit about the puzzles you have illustrated so far and what inspires your work?

Nathanael: I have illustrated a total of three puzzles so far, all of them published with Ravensburger. Two of my puzzles are currently available, Magical Potions and The Happy Sheep Yarn Shop. My third puzzle will be released soon, and I can’t wait to share it with the puzzling world. Magical Potions was inspired by my love of painting translucent bottles of many vibrant colors and fun shapes. My lovely wife and grandfather are the two inspirations behind The Happy Sheep Yarn Shop puzzle. When I was young, my grandpa told me stories about himself and the time he was a shepherded boy. He had many exciting adventures to share with me regarding his time tending the sheep in the high mountains. My wife and her love of knitting inspired me to paint the yarn shop. Our house is full of beautiful yarn of every color! 

Ravensburger The Happy Sheep Yarn

Me: How do you do the images? Digital? Drawing? 

Nathanael:  I paint each puzzle on a Wacom tablet in Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes I’ll sketch using a pen or pencil in my personal sketch book, but mostly I use my computer.  

Me: Is your artwork published in other forms besides puzzles, and if so, what form?

Nathanael: I have had the privilege of painting many illustrations for the board game community, including my own games. 

Me: Do you enjoy doing puzzles too? Do you have a favorite artist/series brand?

Nathanael:  I grew up with a large family who all love doing puzzles. We mostly did puzzles in the winter and would leave them out for days while we slowly put them back together one piece at a time. I continue to enjoy building puzzles, and I hope to do many more. My favorite puzzle artist is Demelsa Haughton. I love every puzzle she has created. Her work is amazing, every illustration is like a symphony of endearing stories. My favorite puzzle brand is Ravensburger!

Me: How do you see your work evolving and how has it evolved since the start? 

Nathanael:  There is no doubt my art is evolving. I’m very blessed to be working with an amazing team at Ravensburger North America. They push me and guide me to create my best work. I’ve learned a lot about illustrating jigsaw puzzles from Ravensburger. It’s important to remember when illustrating a puzzle, that your illustration is going to be divided into a thousand pieces, and then mixed into a small box. I illustrate each detail hoping it will create an enjoyable puzzling experience. 

Me: What are your plans for future projects?

Nathanael: I'm hoping to start working on my fourth puzzle later this fall with Ravensburger.

Personally, I am very excited to see his upcoming projects. We wish him all the best and thank him for taking the time to share his story with us!