Nicholas Harper: 100 Creatives


Number 85: Nicholas Harper


City: Minneapolis


Years spent living in MN: 36

Picking out a piece by painter Nicholas Harper in a lineup should always an easy task. His spin on classical portraiture is eye-catching, to say the least. His subject's long limbs, slim figures, and often-elongated necks are unmistakable. While they are typically depicted as seated or standing in front of a dark, gothic background, there is an ethereal, supernatural glow to each individual. And while pieces may seem bizarre upon first glance, it is undeniable that there is something compellingly human about them. In addition to his paintings, Harper owns and runs the Rogue Buddha Gallery, a space located in Northeast Minneapolis that has received national attention from both CNN and GQ Magazine.



[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:

  1. Ally McBeal and Northern Exposure reruns (seriously)

  2. Russian and Byzantine iconography

  3. My friends and family and their limitless well of talent

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

  1. Family

  2. A desire to give form to that which is formless

  3. Lack of wanting to work for anyone else

What was your last big project?  

My ongoing curation at the Rogue Buddha Gallery, as well as painting full time.

Creative/career high point (so far)?:


I would have to say that it's been the relationships I've built with my patrons and having the chance to have my work affect so many people.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist (this can be logistical, financial, creative, etc.)?

My biggest challenge is to continually push myself in terms of broadening my artistic voice. It's easy to get into a rut or simply reproduce the same painting over and over again. I really want each painting to be its own creation while still representing my vision.

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?

It's constantly getting better. The diversity of art has grown while being more accessible to viewers and patrons through galleries and artist studios. I also think that the caliber of the art being made here is constantly improving.  Collectors and art enthusiasts are generally more excited to buy local work as Minneapolis is getting a bigger name for itself. There's also more collaboration between artists of various disciplines such as musicians, fashion designers, dancers, painters, etc. In general, it feels like there's a sense of excitement in Minneapolis that was lacking 12 years ago. The abundance of local blogs that write about the arts has really helped to spread this excitement and garner new interest in the local scene.

Tell us about something that you are passionate about outside of art: 


Discovering new angles on history that are typically overlooked or hidden.

What has been your biggest "aha!" moment as an artist?  

Realizing just how powerful of an influence art has within people's lives. It wasn't until I started to collect art myself that I noticed just how much it effects me on a daily basis and how it can be used as a tool of reflection and self empowerment.

Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis

99. Sean Smuda

98. Chuck U


96. Amy Rice

95. Kara Hendershot