Artist Spotlight: Natalie Slater

The blog has been rather silent – my apologies! Lots of things have been happening, including new stories available through our Kickstarter page, but now we’re back on track with another Artist Spotlight, this time on photographer and designer Natalie Slater.


Natalie and I met during the first week of college at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. That was apparently over ten years ago, so I honestly don’t remember many details about our early friendship. She was studying design and photography, and she tolerated my creative direction in designing the posters for both my senior voice recital and my senior composition / direction project, Desert Mass.NS - Desert Mass poster

A photo from Natalie's VW Van series, a personal project.
A photo from Natalie’s “VW Van” series, a personal project.

Natalie is also a talented drummer and collaborated with me on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, she got even more awesome at her trades and began her career as a professional photographer immediately after graduation.

I moved to Florida in 2011 in an attempt to do something with my artistic ambitions; Natalie was living in Tulsa and we began having regular and lengthy conversations about our respective projects, particularly her upcoming grad school thesis project but anything that either of us happened to be working on. At one point, Natalie sent me a half dozen pictures and asked me to write something inspired by each. One of those ended up being Wooden Horse, the poem that will close The Crown of Secrets.

My handwriten poem overlayed on Natalie's photo - very similar to what will be in the book.
My handwritten poem overlaid on Natalie’s photo – very similar to what will be in the book.
Find it, scan it, and look back in time.
Find it, scan it, and look back in time.

The deadline for her thesis proposal trundled closer, and she brainstormed what seemed like dozens of excellent ideas with me. Finally, sometime in late spring of 2012, Natalie announced to me that she had settled on an idea: she would re-photograph a hundred vintage postcards along historic Route 66 and mark their locations with augmented reality plaques. I commented that that sounded awesome, and that if she was looking for an assistant and travel buddy, I’d be thrilled to join her. And Natalie said, “Well, actually…”

Now and then - the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or something.
Now and then – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or something.

The project, Mother Road Revisited, took us on a six week journey in a ’64 Shasta camper from Chicago to LA up and down Route 66 (here are some of my thoughts about the trip) during the summer of 2012. It was an eye-opening and perspective-changing experience for both of us, about both our nation and ourselves. Almost immediately after the photography trip ended, I embarked for China.

The Shasta camper that we took down Route 66, lit from within somewhere in New Mexico.
The Shasta camper that we took down Route 66, lit from within somewhere in New Mexico.

Natalie has kept herself busy with wedding and event photography, graphic design, portraits, and assorted personal projects – her ridiculous talent and endless creativity mean that she never has any shortage of things to do, which made me hesitant to approach her to collaborate on another story. But her photography skills and mildly warped sense of humor made her perfect to create the images for Mr Banana’s Strange Day, and when she agreed, I was delighted. I’m pretty sure you will be, too, when you see what she’s doing.

Natalie's first concept image for Mr Banana's Strange Day
Natalie’s first concept image for Mr Banana’s Strange Day

Natalie currently lives in Tulsa, OK, caring for her family and creating cool stuff. See her portfolio and some personal projects at her website, and check out Mother Road Revisited while you’re at it.

We only have a week to go on the Kickstarter to get the book funded, and we need all the help we can get. Please help us out and spread the word about The Crown of Secrets!

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