Byron Nernoff is an illustrative artist who has created many colorful and whimsical works that depict gears, odd machines, and mice. Byron has worked as a full-time Artist for several years, and he runs an art gallery out of his home in Glen Head, Long Island. Byron is a second-generation creator; his father worked as a commercial artist who painted ads that appeared in top-rate magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Life Magazine and Look in the 1940s and as well as a fine artist who specialized in steam and cruise ships.

Byron and his wife, Kay, live in the house that his grandfather--a hardworking immigrant from Estonia--built in 1919.

Excitingly, the recently restored house is currently a candidate for a historic house. Byron’s experiences as a young boy growing up in this house in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s are the basis for his book titled "Memories from the Attic" which is currently in contract with a well-known publisher. The book focuses in part on his grandfather who instilled work ethics, morals, courage, and faith in his children and grandchildren.

Byron recently discussed his experiences as an artist and fledgling writer via an exclusive Interview.


Blasting News (Q): How did you come up with your wonderfully whimsical style involving mice and gears?

Byron Nernoff (BN): My whimsical style of art was mostly influenced by growing up with my grandfather who was a licensed stream engineer.

I was always around steam engines, gears, pulleys, cables, nuts, and bolts, etc. That coupled with my 1940s childhood and the music of that era, having fun as a kid and my father’s art. My dad was a very humorous guy, lots of laugh's which is reflected in my art. I was basically a happy kid.

In reference to the mice: I have a fellow artist and long-time friend Tommy Malloy who lives across the street and one day I was expressing to him that I need sometimes live in my painting, instead of just mechanical things, and just then a mouse ran across his kitchen floor, and that was it!

Discuss this news on Eunomia

We both agreed mice was what was needed. So, I started sketching them, and now you see them on canvas.

Q: Have you ever considered using your delightful art to illustrate children's books?

BN: Yes, but I have future plans for big paintings for now.

Q: Out of all your artwork, do you have any favorite pieces and, if you do, which ones?

BN: My favorite paintings are the “Rats and Gears” paintings, “The Rat Parade,” Moses and the Burning Bush” and some flower paintings I’ve done.

Q: You come from a family of artists and also run a gallery, so what do you exhibit in your gallery? Can artists contact you about possibly having their work featured at the location?

BN: The gallery was originally my father's art studio built in 1952. He passed away in 1996, and it was empty for a while until brother moved in. My wife and I took care of him, for he was a disabled Vietnam veteran until he passed away and went home to be with the Lord last year and then I converted it back to an art studio and gallery just for myself.

Q: How did you get into stand-up comedy and where do you perform?

BN: I have been invited to a few comedy clubs, but too busy with my book and artwork to follow up. As I mentioned, my father was a funny guy. He used to bring home records of like Spike Jones and blooper records and his used to do cartoons as well. My first joke was a men's bible study at Manhasset Baptist Church--now Shelter Rock Church--many years ago when the pastor asked me to warm up the crowd of about 100 men!


Q: Professionally, you owned three restaurants so what was it like to be in the culinary arts?

BN: Growing up in this creative Estonian family, my father used to do a lot of baking, pumpkin pies from real pumpkins, etc. My mother was an excellent cook, so being surrounded in this environment, I started to like to eat well and then learn to cook m self.

At fourteen years old, I got a job at a boy scout summer camp work first as a dish washer and worked for three summers ending up being an eagle scout and then after high school when to the Culinary Institute of America.

I am also a distributor of a company called Viaviente which is a natural food puree drink from Ecuador. I have been involved with it for five years now, and my wife and I have not been sick for five years period. I am looking to help people with their health naturally and also for people looking for a business opportunity. That’s why I have all this energy at my age of 75!

Q: You live in a historic house that your grandfather built, and you recently wrote a book about your experiences growing up there.

What prompted you to do that and what are your favorite parts of the book?

BN: My grandparents came to America as emigrates from Estonia and we have such an interesting history of which my father took 1000's of photographs of us kids, boats my grandfather built--and the house he built as well--and my mother saved everyone including photos going back to the 1800s! Many of my friends and relatives said that I have to write a book, so it doesn’t all get lost or end up in some garage sale or the garbage.

Q: How have you gone about promoting your art and have you found a suitable publisher for your book?

BN: I belong to the rotating art program of the Town of Oyster Bay, Long Island Art League, and other venues.

Also, I am looking for an online art galley to show my artwork. I have a publisher called Westbow Press which is a self-publishing company which is part of Neilson Publishing which is world known for their bibles. Since I started writing and have submitted by work to Westbow, they have told me I have enough material for at least three more books! I am supposed to be retired, but I am busier now than when I was working!