Luke Taaffe is a passionate artist, graphic designer, and surfer, hailing from the Central Coast beach of Wamberal, NSW. While his day job includes designing for Roxy/Quiksilver, Luke’s personal work involves utilizing weathered wood and other recycled materials as his canvas. Painting the things he loves – the ocean and waves – his creativity shines through in colors, shapes, and patterns that he produces.
Your art has a certain flow to it. Is that a general theme that you try to keep consistent? Or better yet, how would you describe your artistic style? And how does that style translate into the other things in your life?
My artistic style is reflective of a life living by the ocean…organic, colourful & free flowing. I generally try and keep the ocean & the coastline as a consistent theme in my work these days because it’s powerful & always changing. Creatively expressing myself has always been something that I’ve been attracted to and surfing/art are two forms that I like. They both go hand in hand for me and it also keeps me sane.
What is your creative process like? Do you start a piece with something in mind or do you just free flow it as it comes to you?
I generally have an idea in my head how the work is going to end up before I lay down any paint. If I’m doing a commission, I may draw up a few rough sketches but most of the time it’s spontaneous. Some nights I do lay in bed thinking about the next piece I’m going to do….sometimes this helps the process.
You seem to work with quite a bit of recycled materials. Where do you find yourself coming up on your “canvases”? How do you feel that using eroded/recycled materials changes the dynamic of your art as opposed to painting on a nice new canvas or sheet of paper?
Recycled materials are great to work with and it’s something I’d like to continue in my work. Finding these sort of materials gets you out the house which is always good, and it makes you do a bit of exploring for yourself. I’ve just found this great local company who sells parts of old houses that have been demolished, like old window frames, doors etc but most of the eroded wood I source is from rubbish tips. Eroded materials have texture and I feel this gives the piece a bit more character as opposed to painting on a new piece of wood or paper. It’s also very satisfying to bring back to life something that has became unwanted.
How has your art evolved over time? Do you find new themes and patterns or are you sticking to what you have always been doing?
My work has changed a fair bit over time and I hope it continually evolves. It’s nice to go to an exhibition and be surprised by an artist who’s work changes. The first solo show I ever did was called ‘Kickstart the Heart’ and was based around my obsession with 80’s surf and skate. It was a homage to my childhood and I set up an installation where i recreated my bedroom complete with a mannequin playing Nintendo, and a wall covered in posters from Powell Peralta advertisements to images of my favourite surfers shredding. The colour palette and content was completely different to the work I do now, but it’s nice to look back and see how it’s evolving. I’m finding the themes and patterns are more consistent these days but I’m always up for change. Change can be a good thing!
What mediums of art do you prefer? Do you stick to only relying on paint brushes and pens or do you get utilize the technology (computers) of today?
I generally use acrylics and indian ink and occasionally work mixed media. I have a great range of brushes so I never use pens to detail a piece. I like the variance a brush gives you in weight and it’s a challenge of mine to get my linework really sharp. For me, the computer is just a tool but is crucial for more commercial work like setting up a yardage print for a factory etc.
Do you feel that working for a major surf label Quiksilver/Roxy has changed your art in any capacity?
Working in the surf industry hasn’t changed my art in any way. I try and keep my work with Roxy separate to my fine art, though there are occasions when I align my personal work with the brand.
My work with Roxy mainly consists of creating prints for swimwear, boardies & dresses and this has helped with technique & content with my own art so I’m stoked.
In an age of technology, computers, and the internet, competition has become pretty stiff. How do you position yourself in the market as an artist? Or do you not worry about it and just let the art speak for itself?
I don’t really see myself as an artist but more of a creative bloke who is likes to express himself in a few different ways. I guess I’ve been pretty disciplined in my work ethics and that has helped with the art side of things and commercial work with brands. If your really passionate about something, people will eventually gravitate towards it.
For more of Luke’s art, check out http://www.luketaaffe.com