Meet Nick Blunier: The artist who created the image for the new SBN t-shirt

Meet Nick Blunier: The artist who created the image for the new SBN t-shirt
Nick Blunier stands in front of his community art bus, a mobile art studio. COURTESY IMAGE
Liz Gotthelf, Publisher

Artist Nick Blunier was commissioned by Saco Bay News to create an original t-shirt design.

Blunier was chosen not only because of his amazing talent, but also because he has a strong sense of community.

Blunier graduated from the University of New England with a degree in psychology and a minor in art. He started Common Roots Studio as an artist’s collective with a few friends in 2012 in studio space above the former Engine Art Gallery in downtown Biddeford. Common Roots is now located on Washington Street in Biddeford.

We wanted our readers to get to know the creator behind the art, and we asked Blunier a few questions about his background, his career and what inspires him.

When did you first start creating art?

My passion for art really started when I was little and created a marker version of “The Starry Night” for my mom. It was her favorite painting and I just remember doing individual strokes and working so hard on it. When I gave it to her, seeing her light up and going to get it framed just showed me how creating things can have an effect on people. From there I became obsessed with drawing the Simpsons characters, which really held all of my middle school boy attention for awhile!

How would you describe your art - what are your influences, favorite mediums to work with?

I really am inspired by all art. I love dabbling in different mediums and exploring new techniques. Van Gogh has always been one of my favorites (probably because of my mom) and is why I have “The Starry Night” as a tattoo sleeve. If I had to choose just one medium as my favorite, it would be sculpture. I love the challenge of piecing things together like a puzzle, whether its driftwood from the beach or metal from the salvage yard.

What inspired you to open Common Roots?

Common Roots Studio was really founded on the basis of having a working studio for friends to come together and create. A few friends and I graduated from UNE and needed a working space to house our hoarding of driftwood and art supplies. Tammy Ackerman was directing Engine at the time and we had worked with her for one of our independent studies art classes. She was a huge mentor and nudged me to rent out a studio space above her!

 Once we established and opened for art walks, people started coming in asking to purchase items. So we became an LLC! The studio really grew from there!

Common Roots is more than an art gallery. You're building community among artists, and bringing their work to the greater community. Explain how Common Roots supports other creators, and why this is important.

Common Roots has always been a community built and driven mission. We have had a wide variety of Maine based artists either working or displaying their art in the studio. We have had to really adapt to the changing world and market. Providing individualized music and art classes allow Pat and I to continue to teach even after school hours.

One of the largest components to our studio space is our visiting artist gallery. We charge $50 for the month with 100% of the sales going directly back into the artist pockets. The $50 fee goes directly into our rent to keep our doors open and everyone connected.

With every visiting artist, we help with display, selling and cashing out artists, mentoring with developing logos or artist statements, connecting likeminded artists with one another, collaborations on pieces, and featured on our website (which even once an artist has left they remain on the website to keep them connected). We also have a section of the studio for our Young Artists, mentoring young artists on how to develop some key aspects of display for their work.

Some artists are more established and are simply looking for a place to display/sell and be a part of the community, which we always welcome as well! Networking with artists and learning the basics are so key to developing as an artist in my opinion. I truly believe that when you can sit, create, and talk together; that is when you can truly thrive!

Washington Avenue, where Common Roots is located, has really blossomed over the past few years. How would you describe the downtown scene in Biddeford these days?

We were the only operating business on Washington when we first moved onto the street, and to see where its come has been very exciting. Having likeminded businesses such as Nibblesford, Suger, and Sacred, has allowed us to collaborate on some awesome events such as Sacred’s Pride Block Party and the Art Walks.

 I really attribute so much of the growth of the downtown to so many amazing people taking risks and opening their own businesses. Heart of Biddeford, Engine, and Biddeford Saco Chamber of Commerce have been great resources and organizers of local events! Their support for businesses and artists has led to some amazing development in Biddeford.

You also run a mobile art bus. What exactly is that and where does it travel to?

The CRS Community Art Bus was really inspired by my work with the non-profit Art Van based out of Bath, ME. Jamie’s work with art therapy in the community is such an amazing thing to experience first hand. She really gave me that nudge and mentoring to start up my own Mobile Art Program.

The Community Art Bus travels around to different community events and provides free art activities to kids and families. The bus “unfolds” and sets up multiple art projects working in a variety of mediums to provide them with an opportunity to use supplies they may not have otherwise explored. We run on donations, sponsorships, and hired events to provide the arts! We are based out of Biddeford but have gone as far north as Rome and as far south as Dover, New Hampshire.

You're a busy guy. In addition to creating art, running Common Roots and the Mobile Art Bus, you also teach at Sweetser's Eslie J. Parquette School. How do you juggle all these responsibilities yet appear so calm and collected?

Hahah. I actually get this asked a lot. Teaching special education 40hrs, running a business, and the community outreach can be a big task at times. Lists are my most used tool for sure haha. But, at the end of the day a lot of it doesn’t really feel like work. Art has always been fun and therapeutic for me. Im fortunate enough to provide art to a population of expressive kids, connect with my community, and create art on a daily basis.

Lastly, why do we need to support art and artists?

Personally, art has played a major role in my life and has really shaped me as a person. Art is so multifaceted that the support it can provide for an individual is endless. Whether it’s a career, an outlet, or destination ; art has the ability to change a persons life. Supporting the arts and artists allows the community they are found in to be a source of creativity and growth.


Nick Blunier designed the image for the new Saco Bay News t-shirt. It is available at

Saco Bay News Publisher Liz Gotthelf can be reached at [email protected].