Artist of the Week: The Landscapes of David Meikle

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Artist of the Week: The Landscapes of David Meikle

By Hannah Keating, Arts Writer

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Whether you know his name or not, you’ve probably seen the work of Utah artist David Meikle, even if you’ve barely crossed the state line. His iconic displays of the intricate landscape of his home state are featured in well-known locations across the valley, from artwork hanging in the Salt Lake International Airport to a mural he painted in the City Creek Shopping Center to the design of the infamous “Welcome to Utah” signs, featuring gorgeous red rock arches and outlines of his hometown of Salt Lake City. 

When I asked artist David Meikle why he has stayed in Salt Lake to work, having been born and schooled here, he replied, “Salt Lake has great light.” Meikle’s attention to the majesty of the mountains surrounding him, even at a young age, became an inspiration. “I grew up looking at Mount Olympus almost every day and I always observed how different times of day, seasons and weather would all combine to create different moods for portraying the mountains.” You can see in his work how he transforms the landscape into a character of its own — both rugged and familiar, simultaneously simple and deep. 

Meikle painted for much of his childhood. He won in the art category of the Deseret News Sterling Scholar Competition for high school students in the state of Utah. He then enrolled in the bachelor’s in fine arts program in graphic design and illustration at the University of Utah on a four-year scholarship, a time he says gave him both great mentors and great memories. His training allowed him to grow, especially in finding his own direction as an artist.  

After finishing his degree, he started graphic designing for the U. He has now worked full time on campus for 25 years, now working as the art director for University Marketing and Communications, his focus on graphic design and illustration for clients on campus. Meikle’s artistic versatility shines when you see how his two seemingly separate art forms actually compliment each other. He said, “I have found that there is a lot of crossover with aesthetics. I think good design is just as important in fine art painting as it is in typography and photographic layouts.” 

This pairing of creative work lead him to complete his MFA in painting at the U several years later. Now, it isn’t just his stunning graphic work you see on campus — recently, one of his fine paintings was hung in the Garff Executive Education Building and he finished another piece that will be featured in the Continuing Education and Community Engagement building in Research Park. 

Outside of the sphere of directing work at the U, Meikle’s work continues to spread. He is represented by four different art galleries, so he is often working on art shows and his pieces are added to renowned collections and books. In this, much of his free time is devoted to pursuing his love of painting, and he continues to work off the landscapes that inspire him — famous locales such as Bryce Canyon or Zion. His paintings continue to enter competitions and receive various awards. It’s amazing how deeply Meikle’s art is rooted in the environment of Utah, and more interesting how it continues to shape our perspective of it and how we attach our identity to it. The way he sees Utah and the way he translates it to canvas are magnificent. 

Even with his heavy workload, it’s inspiring how Meikle never tires or becomes unmotivated — he is constantly engaged in or looking forward to his next project. The secret, he says, is to “create artwork that is so exciting to you that you can’t wait for the day to start so you can get working on it.” However, like any creative career, Meikle’s journey is not without its ups and downs. For students studying in the arts, he gives this reminder: “It is a long road with lots of bumps and disappointments along the way. However, if you believe in yourself and put the time and hard work required to succeed, you will find that others will start to believe in you too and will start to appreciate what you are creating.”

Meikle himself is still creating new work, contributing to design and fine art across our campus and adding to the fabric of Utah’s art scene as a whole. Returning to the creative inspiration he finds from his home in the Salt Lake Valley, Meikle added, “Our sunsets are second to none.”

You can find his work on his own website or through one of the many galleries that represent him (David Ericson, Evergreen or Medicine Man) as well as in the locations mentioned on and off campus.

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@iamjustkeating