Moving from New Zealand to Cornwall, UK to pursue her art career, Tess Sheerin’s weird and wonderful work comes from an ever-changing, dream-like blend of beauty, fantasy and humour. Her latest work incorporates more graphic design techniques than her earlier projects, using a myriad of skills to vivid effect. Airbrushing, charcoal, mark making, stenciling, pastel, carving and collage are all used. Sheerin is inspired by her travels, and her art reflects the new people, places, activities encountered in her daily life.
Can you talk a little about the path you have taken to get where you are today – where you grew up, education, work, travels?
I’m New Zealand home grown. I grew up and went to school just outside Christchurch city, getting itchy feet at 21 I felt that the art school I was at stifled my creativity. I needed to spread my wings and snowboard as much as I possible, so I bounced around the globe and sketched whenever I had an injury. The changing moment in my career happened after I chipped a bone in my lower back whilst at Northstar at Tahoe. It was then that my body told me to have a break, so I decided to paint! Thus boarding a plane to the UK with my best friend and parking in Britons nutty Brighton. Then, after my big city fix, I moved to St Ives, Cornwall to surf, here I found an amazingly beautiful studio made from old granite stone. This is where I created ‘Sea School’.
Your style of art is very unique. How did you develop it? How long have you been doing it for?
Thanks. Hmm, I’m not sure how it developed; perhaps it’s got something to do with having a bit of a different arts background. Traveling has definitely opened my eyes and has influenced my style for sure. I’ve been drawing since forever.
What are your inspirations for your designs?
All of this depends of my frame of mind at the time, the inspiration can basically hit me out of the blue by listening to a song, having a swim or even in a dream, no rules there. M.C Escher is the art love of my life; I am forever in awe of his genius talent. I believe that the surrealists had the right idea of developing methods to liberate imagination and embrace the unconscious, Dali is brilliant! In response to my street art influence, I guess living in the UK and being around a culture where urban art is everywhere has inspired me and after exhibiting a few pieces alongside some artworks by Banksy, Blek le rat, Faile, Swoon, Herakut and Shepard Fairey to name a few opened my eyes hugely! Japanese calligraphy is amazing, I often sketch with a quill and ink due to this love.
Can you talk about some of your interests outside of art and surfing? What has been getting you stoked lately? Where else are you drawing your influences from?
I’ve been back home in NZ with the family and the best pets who I haven’t seen in 4 years, Mr Filipe is a long haired jack russell and beagle mutt and is such a freestyle beast, the tricks that little guy can pull with the soccer ball is totally getting me stoked lately plus walking in the NZ native bush rules. Also getting back on my snowboard always fuels my stoke.
Your ‘Sea School’ project is essentially a form of recycling, was this a goal of yours from the start or did it come about unintentionally?
This is a much welcomed coincidence as I discovered my first board (Sexy Fish Lady) just discarded out by a tip. I guess I was inspired after the surf I just had and the idea just popped into my head like a light bulb….tink! I am totally into recycling and repurposing so perhaps discovering that board was fate!
Do you have a piece you are most proud of?
Out of Sea School ‘Sexy Fish Lady’ is a keeper. I often keep a work if it brings back the feelings and the memories surrounding it. Kind of like the way you feel when you flick back through an old photo album. Some pieces are priceless to me in that sense.
With your recent work handling old boards and giving them life, have you gotten inspired to shape any boards of your own? Is that something you’re into?
I’ll leave that up to the pros, ahaha as my surfing skills are at best mediocre as the transition from the snow to surf is much harder than I imagined but I love getting my feet wet. Perhaps in the future I will shape my own board.
What’s next for Tess Sheerin?
Lunch, then I’m heading in to print an etching I’ve been working on this week. I am up for collaborations, so if you like my style get in touch….. The rest only time shall unfold!
For more of Tess’s work, be sure to check out http://tesssheerin.com/