Sum up your creative process in one word/phrase, and explain why.
Endgame, because it’s all about the finished product. I’m not an artist who stands in front of a blank canvas, paints for an hour or day in one continuous session and then stops when they feel the artwork is complete. My artwork is very structured, with a design to replicate, a feeling to achieve and a quality to reach. There is an exact idea of the level of detail, which requires time for multiple layers that is sometimes an exponentially long process. This slow layered process requires patience and at times can be tiring, but is such a rewarding feeling once I reach the end and am proud to show an artwork that I have given so much to. The endgame of my art is what inspires me to start and keep me moving forward.
Were you always an artist, even as a child? What was your path to becoming an artist?
I was the kid in the family who whenever there was a family gathering, had to get out all my drawings to show the aunts and uncles. Beyond that it was at school where I could compare my skills to others; I knew I had an artistic ability and was able to draw character like Asterix or Garfield as a close match. I grew up loving quality cartoons for both the entertaining storytelling and the expression that an illustrator wants to get out of one frame, like Bugs Bunny gearing up to run.
Cartoons guided me to draw not just a single picture but a whole story. I learnt fine art skills in high school, and created some great pieces, but decided to study graphic design at university. I learnt about colour, layout, storytelling in lots of mediums, including digitally, and progressed into 3D animation, again the storytelling drew me towards this direction.
I made many little character based animations and eventually got a job in 3D visualisation which was the main field of animation if I wanted to continue living in Perth. 3D animation also taught me skills in layout, colour, lighting and colour bleeding, as it was still an art of creating a pretty picture and I was in control of everything.
After 6 years of 3D animation, dipping my toes in outside creative fields away from the computer, like scriptwriting, I painted an oil painting for a community art show, but to ensure I could keep a nice image of the painting should it sell, I first took it to a company which digitises and reproduces artworks for prints, They saw something special in my first piece and took it upon themselves to matt and package up a small print of it to show me, and said “You could sell these”, and so I did.
What is your medium of choice and what drew you to this particular medium?
Oil paint on canvas. I was never interested in painting until high school when I was introduced to oil paints and realised that I could have time to finesse the artwork till I was completely happy with it. My work is very detailed, and I find oil paints give me the flexibility to work the gradients, the details and the accuracy in a slow and relaxing way which brings me the most joy when producing art. The thick texture and slow dry times of oil paints allows for a lot more control which I find the same results harder to achieve with acrylics.
Is there any particular experience, person, place or thing that inspires you to create? Tell us about that.
For many years during my 20s, before painting, I saw the artist’s ‘Donald James Waters OAM’ work at galleries and mostly pop ups art shops. His work was the first time I stopped and just enjoyed the feeling an artwork can bring looking at it. Before that I really just thought art made your home look pretty, but his work was bright, quirky, stylish, complex, skilled, unique and imaginative. I got so much out of his artwork, plus the prints were everywhere, so this guy had also achieved commercial success.
The joy I experience viewing his art was something that I wanted to create in my own and my goal was to achieve the Donald Waters trifecta; beautiful art, which creates positive emotions and would be commercially successful. In 2019, 10 years after my first painting, I was honoured to meet Donald for the first time at our joint exhibition ‘Bright Tales’. I created my best work to date, the exhibition was the galleries most successful of the year and he was an amazing guy, funny, humble and positive, just like his art.
What is it like showing your work to people and what do you hope people take away from it?
It is very rewarding to hear the positive comments when people are looking at my art and find it hard to decide on a piece. I like to get involved with the stories behind the art and witness how that affects their choice. Through observation and listening to the comments I discovered that the attraction is also about colour, the humour, a location that is special to them or maybe the character in the painting reminds them of a loved one and they connect to that.
My hope firstly is that they draw happiness from my art and secondly is that people appreciate my work on a few levels. One being the emotional connection with the story or scene and the second is that they appreciate the hard work gone into the art. I’m very grateful to see that viewers acknowledge the artistic skill to create such a piece, and therefore the value of the work.
What advice do you have for other artists who may be looking to get their work exhibited?
Firstly, create quality work with quality materials. If you can’t be bothered painting two coats when you know it would look better, then viewers won’t see it as the best either. Secondly, create a series that has a connected theme with alternative shapes, sizes and colours to widen your audience tastes. Create a couple of pairs of artworks that people can buy together. I found when buyers with a two wall problem find a solution with your art, it’s a double sale!