‘Barbara Nessim isn’t quite a household name, unless you happen to live in a really cool house that praises originality and ingenuity. The New York native was a not only a pioneering illustrator during the heady, male-dominated art world of the 1960s, but one of the earliest adopters of using a computer for graphic design. We chatted with her about her upcoming career retrospective at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery.
You began your career in the early 1960s. Was it difficult starting out as a woman back then?
I never noticed that it was hard; I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do. I started as a freelancer, and in 1961, I won a special merit award from the Society of Illustrators.
And now you’ve been creating amazing art for more than 50 years. What about you do you think has kept you in the game, so to speak?
I knew at 15 that I wanted to work and have a career before I got married; I married at 41. My mother was a well-respected blouse designer. I admired her and saw what was possible. Being positive and very focused on my goal, I never noticed any detractors. When I graduated Pratt in 1960, there were few women in illustration and in the art world—I only knew that in retrospect. I felt all the doors were open to me and my goals, so I walked right through them with determination. Since I love what I’m doing, why should I stop at any age? There is nothing else I’d rather do.
Do you think NYC has informed or helped your work at all?
Having been born in the Bronx and growing up in a creative community helped; all ideas were embraced… READ MORE in TIME OUT NEW YORK