Detroit Domination,  Featured Stories,  Interviews

An Interview with Nay Nay Bane: Detroit Graphic Designer/Illustrator

By Alexis Simpson

We had been desperately in need of a logo/branding, but I couldn’t come up with any ideas so I put a hold on it until recently. Our  publication’s name is “Noize” because of the noise music makes and the noise found in low-light photography. I thought it would be zany to make my pet Umbrella Cockatoo our mascot/logo because she’s f’in loud. Drummer Matt Moy suggested the work of Nathan Bortz (Nay Nay Bane) which I had already seen on several local band flyers. I liked his art and liked the idea of using an artist that works with local musicians, so I contacted Nathan right away.

The process of making the logo was a lot of fun for me because I got to throw ideas out at Nathan and wait to see how he developed them. It took about 3 revision sessions with lots of little tweaks to get things perfect. A few times I told Nathan to change something, and then later decided that I liked his original way better. Throughout the process Nathan was patient, helpful and went above and beyond what I asked for. Graphic design is something that I wish I knew how to do, but I think I would be awful at it. Therefore, I wanted to learn more about NayNay Bane and share his work with everybody!

Q & A

NOIZE-Where does the name Nay Nay Bane come from? Where are you from?

NAYNAY-I don’t really know. I wanted to have an alias to differentiate my more zany work from my more “wholesome” work but it turned out that people that enjoyed my garden design illustrations also enjoyed my more vulgar visuals. People would call me “Nay” or “Nay Nay” for short and “Bane” just flowed nicely. It has no relation to me “breaking the bat” or anything DC comics but if you want to make that connection…

I’m from the senior citizen diner on every corner, biker spandex wearing, still thinking you’re in highschool when you’re 30 town of Rochester Hills. That’s the people though, I like the woods there.

NOIZE-How did you get into design?

NAY NAY-I went to school at Wayne State for graphic design and that’s exactly when i got into design. The funny thing is I actually didn’t quite understand what it really entailed until I went to the first design class. I was ready to drop the class until one of the students named Keith Kemp explained all the ways that graphic design can be applied.

NOIZE-What kind of art do you like? What kind of music?

NAY NAY-I enjoy the art of Joe Murray, R. Crumb and John K. Music, I enjoy Frank Zappa. I enjoy a lot of music. But Zappa was able to assume multiple personalities and bring out a different mood with each song that hit the intended emotion square on the head. He took his work very seriously but at the same time his work seems to make a complete mockery of everything that takes itself too seriously. It’s hypocritical and that’s why it’s real.  It’s not just the music itself that I enjoy but the theater he created while here. He got people riled up about his explicit lyrics and was part of the debate that, to this day, is still being thrown around pertaining to how this type of material will affect the children. Oh the poor children!

NOIZE-How did you start working with a lot of Detroit musicians?

NAYNAY-Anyway, I started working with Detroit musicians when I first started illustrating some show flyers for Passalacqua. They referred a lot of artists to me and I’m extremely thankful for that. Both Bryan and Brent are compassionate people and it would be cool if the world had more of them and less assuming puckerbutt hardasses.

NOIZE-How do you come up with such creative illustrations?

NAYNAY-When I’m asked to do a flyer, I will take into account a few things including the date, overall aesthetics of the bands, venue and I look to mythology for iconography that I can put my own spin on. The past is rich with story telling and you can tell we’re running out of ideas now. When does “Frodo vs. Aslan” come out? Recently eastern philosophy has been a source of a lot of my inspiration. It just fascinates me because it carries both the happy with the dark and gloomy, and that’s real. Like Zappa’s music it challenges you to make a mockery of everything you take so seriously. I don’t know who said it but it was something along the lines of “The most sacred thing is a well executed joke.” This is why I like these philosophies. They don’t threaten you with fear and promise you safety if you just follow the rules. Death is not a curse. It is a gift to be learned from. I think if we would think of death more, we would definitely live more wholesome and compassionate lives. We’re just so afraid and fearful we push it away and take ourselves incredibly serious to pretend that we all don’t all have the same fate. But to return from my tangent, I come up with these ideas for illustrations by getting inspiration from mythology, referring to many different artists’ cartooning characteristics, and mixing them with my own.

NOIZE-How would you describe your style?

NAY NAY-I wouldn’t want to describe my style because I wouldn’t want it to be set in stone. I have a lot of journey ahead but Jeff Milo referred to some of my art as “tweaked-out Saturday Morning Cartoon-surrealism.” Which I like a lot.

NOIZE-Any interesting ideas or plans for the future?

NAY NAY-I want to continue doing what I do and would love to illustrate for children’s books in the future. I would also like to get a little place to stay to grow some food and be. I know i’m not the only one.


NoiseBullseye copy1

NoiseLogoFont590 copy

NoiseLogoFinalBIRD590 copy


Cover for Mister’s  new EP “The Ooze.” Listen and he tells you about THE OOZE and Nay Nay Bane doodles in this time lapse music video.


Shower Flyer


Illustration in DoDo Comix



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