originally posted on December 3, 2011
Since I first met Fieldey a few years back her art has taken a remarkable journey via design, illustration, painting, photography and bobbing about on surfboards, merging into a distinctive self-branded style that has recently seen its first appearance on a gigantic custom-made wave riding device – the motherboard, so to speak, of all that is to come.
CW: The reason that I wanted to interview you for this blog is that your recent work has been very character based. Your creations appear to have escaped from a particularly silly tattoo parlour. What brought about The Fish Wife, The Amazing Prawn Star and all the other characters that have appeared in your artwork this year?
Fieldey: Well, I have this thing where I’m slightly obsessed with naming inanimate objects and it was a natural progression upon taking up surfing to start naming my surfboards. The Fish Wife was my first ‘proper’ surfboard and the character was a way of turning the mermaid cliche on its head with a reverse mermaid and the name is a bad pun – because the type of board is known as a ‘fish’. The others are either puns (oh how I love a bad pun!) or they’re taking cliched icons and making them slightly weird in some way. It’s all about giving the surfboard a personality and life of its own… the character personifies the surfboard in a way.
The first illustrations of yours I ever saw were, if i am not mistaken, a series of amusing farm animal portraits – along with their names and short character descriptions as part of the artwork. You’ve obviously always had a thing for characters rather than abstract art and design. Is there a reason for this you could pin down?
I think it’s because I hate drawing landscapes? I mean… trees – so difficult! But seriously, I find it more enjoyable and interesting to concentrate on a single figure and tell a story about that particular character than having a whole bunch of crap going on… Also it gives you more of a chance to make people laugh, and if people are surprised or find it funny I’m happy too.
Could you ever imagine having your characters appear in a narrative instead of these iconic depictions?
I thought I had to get out a bit more when I was starting to weave together complex narratives about them… one of the characters Mr Mussel, who is a sort of overweight tattooed circus merman, has a tattoo of the Fish Wife on his bicep and in my head I was imagining that she was his girlfriend… so I see connections between them but not as them all co-existing in a world together or anything.
At this point in your career, do you see yourself more in a design or an art context?
After so many years as a designer, design certainly has informed a lot of what I do now, especially in terms of composition and colour, but I see myself and the direction I’m going in as more of an art journey. Not least of all because it doesn’t involve clients or mining companies… arghh!
What are your favourite materials to work with at the moment and why?
Surfboards, spray paint and my Golden Acrylics. I’m totally down with the utilitarian aspect of surfboards and their iconic shape… I like the idea of art that is portable and useful, it doesn’t just hang on your wall, it can do gnarly stuff too, oh and they’re big. I love big. In fact they’re so big and I’m so lazy, I use the spray paint for insta-background and the acrylics because they’re bright and sassy and dry fast.
What can we expect to see emerging from the Fieldey universe in the near future?
Total world domination. And if providence smiles upon me, an art exhibition with a range of sexed-up Fieldey Custom Surfboards and a rad range of Tshirts. Ooh and I also want to buy a car and completely pimp (paint) it.
Top 5 artists at the moment?
Top 5 songs to listen to while working?
- Fatback by Link Wray
- State Trooper by Bruce Springsteen
- The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals
- Hombre Secreto by The Plugz
- Muddy Water by Nick Cave
Another top 5 (or more!) of your own choice! (Read on if you dare…)
Top 5 Wilbur Smith descriptive cliches:
- “Every nerve in his body came up taut as a fishing line struck by a heavy marlin deep in the blue waters of the Pemba Channel”
- “She could imagine him sitting at the centre of his web, gazing hungrily across the river at them, a fanatic with a quenchless thirst for human blood”
- “…he gave the impression of being stockily built, but this was an illusion fostered by the breadth of his shoulders and the girth of his upper arms, muscled by heavy work.”
- “She was almost as tall as him, but he could have easily encircled her waist with his hands. Her bust was boyish and her carriage imperious. Her eye was steely, and as penetrating rapier, and her features were hard and sharp as a whipsaw.”
- “When Graf Otto placed one large freckled hand on Eva’s tiny waist and drew her closer to him, and she smiled up into his face, Leon hated him with a bitter relish that tasted like burned gunpowder in the back of his throat.”
- “Badger, oh, Badger! I know that the road we must travel together will be long and hard. So many snares and pitfalls stand in our way. But I know with equal certainty that together we can win through to the summit of our mountain.”
- “She was helpless in the circle of his arms… She pressed her firm round buttocks into him, felt him swelling and hardening… She stopped struggling, sank to her knees and lifted high the twin half-moons of her buttocks. She wriggled her thighs apart so that the nest of pink curls peeked out between them. ‘I hate you!’ she said.”
- “…her waist was fluted, like the neck of a Grecian vase, curving into the swell of her hips. The skin of her belly was nacreous and unblemished. Her thighs were strong and shapely and between them nestled a womanly bush, dark and curling luxuriantly in its marvelous profusion.”