Spotlight: Nigel Sussman

Downtown Berkeley Spotlight

Celebrating Our Community




Congratulations on doing so much work around Downtown Berkeley. What do you think it is about your work that people love so much?
I like working locally because it is a really good way to give back to my immediate community in the most impactful way I know how. I like to think that my work is relatable because it is bold, whimsical and deals with universal themes like food, music, and animals.

How did you get started? Where did you go to school?
I graduated from California College of the Arts with a BA in Illustration. Right out of school, I found work doing web design at a company in Emeryville. This launched my career path of working in advertising design, animation, and art direction, and I spent nearly 10 years working for a few different, well-known agencies. During that time, I made sure to spend any ‘free time’ drawing and following my original passion of illustration. After moonlighting for a few years to build my portfolio, I left my full-time job to pursue illustration and murals and have not looked back.


“I think one of the keys to making a career of being an artist is to create something people want.”

Which do you like better traditional illustration work or large scale installations and murals?
Murals are a natural extension of the illustration. It is really just taking the illustration one step further by translating it to the largest possible canvas. Murals are special because of how gratifying it can be to see something that I created so large, but seeing an illustration in print on a poster or magazine is also a great feeling. Either way, I like knowing that I have created something that will make other people happy.

What piece of advice would you give to young artists?
I would encourage aspiring artists to practice drawing as much as possible (regardless of what your main ‘medium’ is) and to be adaptable in making changes to your work based on feedback. I think one of the keys to making a career of being an artist is to create something people want. If you are not reacting and improving constantly, you might be spending your time on something that ultimately won’t sell.


Any projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?
I am honored to be working with the Berkeley Public Library Foundation to create designs for the 2018 Authors Dinner at The Central Library downtown. In early February, look for a large installation piece that I will be creating for the main library entrance and atrium. I will also be recognized for my illustrated book, Alphabet Compendium. (

What do you love about Downtown Berkeley?
Berkeley is amazing because it is so unique, vibrant, and lively. I love that there is always something interesting, cultural, and exciting happening somewhere downtown.

Nigel's work