Born in Invercargill, Nigel Brown graduated from Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland 1971 with a B.F.A. He has largely been a full time artist since 1977, exhibiting widely throughout New Zealand. His paintings have generally been in series isolating aspects of his life, environment and experiences.
His work is figurative and regionalist, naive in style and down to earth in its metaphors. "Small dramas become magnified as they are enacted daily in backyards amidst clotheslines, kids and animals, at the breakfast table or in the bedroom. The fiction of domestic bliss is blasted by his interpretation".
The most characteristic symbol Brown is recognised for is the black singlet of the manual worker; 'the macho image of genuine Kiwiness'. There are recurring symbols in his work; for example flying kites denoting freedom. He often uses borders in his paintings and incorporates writing, both an influence of McCahon who encouraged him at art school.
In the 1980s under the influence of Philip Clairmont, Brown experimented with the woodcut printmaking process. The medium appealed to him for its simplicity and strength and he has continued to experiment with printmaking techniques since this time.
Nigel Brown is included in a number of publications about New Zealand art; there is also a book specifically about the artist "Nigel Brown" by Gregory O'Brien. His work is held in most public collections in New Zealand.