The Q&A - We go ‘Back in Black’ with Ilwaco artist Don?Nisbett

Don Nisbett

Which living person do you most admire, and why? 

Well, it would have to be my wife, because I wouldn’t be who I am today, the artist Don Nisbett, without her. She was my art rep, and she represented me as an artist and she was the first one to do so, and we’ve been partners in the art of Don Nisbett ever since. And she’s an artist in her own right, who is the wind beneath my wings. I think if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have been the artist Don Nisbett, it would’ve been the artists Don and Jenna Nisbett. She’s the one that found the site for our first gallery; she’s an amazing person.

What is a trait that you detest in others? 

I would say it’s related to lack of confidence; people when they don’t feel good about themselves. I’d say rudeness. I detest rudeness, that’s the truth right there.

What is your favorite article of clothing? 

Living at the beach, a hoodie. I love a hoodie, because it’s just right. Here in winter, summer, it’s whatever you want it to be. And I love the ones that say Ilwaco or something local on them, and nowadays we’re even printing our own T-shirts and hoodies. So a hoodie — or a good pair of jeans.

Do you have any pets? 

I have Brother and Sister. Brother and Sister are two cats from our local humane society. My son came to me and told me that for Mother’s Day he needed me to get a box of chocolates, a card, some flowers and a cat. Jenna came up with the idea that cats would be a whole lot tamer and be a whole lot easier to work with if they were brother and sister. And she was right on. I’ve been around three other cats, and I’ve never seen cats be so easygoing around my son, Joe. 

Name a song that makes you crank up the volume

I like AC/DC “Back in Black”, I relate to AC/DC. 

What would you want your last meal to be? 

Probably some deep-fried albacore tuna.

When was the last time you laughed really hard, and what was so funny? 

I would have to say seeing Techno Steve dancing, busting a water sprinkler move at his birthday party two weeks ago.

Tell me the best or worst pickup line you’ve ever heard. 

Some are the ones I’ve used! I think the worst one was in Pendleton, Ore., while sitting at the Fireside Bar. And I heard this guy looking at the bartender, who was a female, and he says, “I see you looking at me, and I was looking at you too.” I just think that’s funny. Another one maybe is I like to say, “You wanna see how to pick up a girl in a bar?” and then I’ll pick ‘em up. I’m a big guy, I can pick up a sturdy woman.

What is your favorite quote or best piece of advice? 

“Nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future, and why? 

I’d definitely have to go to the past. I just think I would fit in in another time, a past time when you could be a Clint Eastwood. When you could really — based on your confidence and your strength — you could be whatever you had to be and bad guys were dealt with and good guys were heroes. And steely nerves were really the toughness. 

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Perfect happiness is three things: it’s a little bit of money, it’s a little bit of health, and a good relationship.

Where is the furthest you’ve traveled? 

Ilwaco, to the end of the world is where I’ve been. I’ve traveled in Alaska, I’ve traveled into Canada, down into Mexico, I’ve been all the way to upper state New York. But my first answer would be Ilwaco because it’s the end of the world, and I like it that way.


Don Nisbett was born in Kansas City, Mo., but was raised all over Northwest, from the wilderness of Alaska to suburban Oregon.  He turned a hobby into a career, opening his first art business with his wife in 1998 and his first gallery in Battle Ground in 2001. In 2003, he debuted his work at the Saturday Market at the Port of Ilwaco. Since opening a gallery at the port, he has painted over 1,000 whimsical and nautical images along the waterfront. He lives here with his wife and 9-year-old son, Joe.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.