Meet Young & Sick, A True Artist’s Artist
"Do what you love and fuck the rest." What a romantic, idealistic notion to confront each and every day! It takes effort to do what you love. Some of us have the talent to balance our passion with our day job; some of us don't. How we deal with that divide lends itself to one of two things: denial or emboldened action. What's worse? Failing while pursuing your dreams? Or not pursuing them at all?
For Nick van Hofwegen—aka Young & Sick—it's the latter. He reached a breaking point after a stint working luxury retail where he knew he couldn't scratch the creative itch nagging him. The 9-to-5 lifestyle was wearing him out, leaving him too tired to make music or draw. "The reason I moved to London in the first place was to try to work on music, and I just got stuck in this grind," he says. "I had to jump." So jump he did.
Young & Sick's reimagining of the NYLON logo!
"I'm not heroic or anything, but it was the first time where I was like, 'If I don't really try to do this and try to make a living out of this, then I'm not ever going to make good art because there's nothing depending on it.'" In van Hofwegen's eyes, committing to your goal of turning your creative passion into a living can light a big fire under you and keep you focused. "When you finally dive into that deep end and tell yourself that this is the only way you're going to make rent or pay for food, you're putting yourself in a position where you're forcing yourself to try more, try harder, and make stronger art."
This is what a day in the life of Young & Sick looks like.
In his case, the old adage of spending 10,000 hours to get good at something had to double because van Hofwegen expresses himself through both music and art. "There's a symbiosis where they help each other along," he says. "If I'm stuck with a sound or a visual, I switch between the two; they inform one another." It's that way of working that helped him score gigs designing album art for Maroon 5 and Mikky Ekko. That all, of course, came after some time doing work for free as a means of exposure. A fella by the name of Mark, whom van Hofwegen did some free design work for, promised him that once his band got big, he'd owe him. Fast-forward to a song called "Pumped Up Kicks," which put Mark's band on the map. You know, Mark Foster of Foster the People? Yeah. What that song did for the band did the same for van Hofwegen, who was suddenly making work for indie superstars.
Now, six-plus years into the game, van Hofwegen and his Young & Sick work are a bona fide multi-threat. "The way that I've been marketing this project is just by showing everyone the full scope of it: the drawings, the art, the music. Bringing people into the process is huge for me," he says. "In a way, art or a piece of music is a living organism—you have to treat it with respect."
Van Hofwegen's latest Young & Sick work is a new EP due out next year. He's already released two songs from it, the original "Ojai" and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams," both of which highlight van Hofwegen's lush disco-tinged rock sound. The EP, he says, is essentially a love letter to the process of making art and testing and pushing himself creatively. "[Art and music] are medicine," he says. "It really pulls you through those moments where you're questioning the world around you and the choices that people make. I, personally, want to be lifted by it and help others feel the same."