Based in Sydney Beastman is influenced by the beauty and symbolism behind nature’s repetitive patterns and organic lines. One of the most distinctive and prolific emerging artists in Australia, one third of creative group The Hours and co-founder of East Editions, Beastman has exhibited extensively throughout Australia, as well as in the UK, USA, Germany, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Beastman recently took time to speak to VNAussie, Damo about his upcoming show at Backwoods Gallery as well as all things Beastman…
Damo: Tell us a bit about your early years and how you got into art:
Beastman: I grew up in the Sydney suburbs, a kid obsessed with and completely immersed in skateboarding. I always had an interest in making art from a young age, was always drawing on everything and messing around with things. Through skating I got into shooting photos and making videos, just messing around whilst out on the streets skating with my friends. Then I began to develop a real interest in the art and design that was a big part of skateboarding culture, as well as all the graffiti I would see on the street. I was really into seeing how the different brands presented themselves in magazines, their deck graphics, logo designs and the way the brands collaborated with artists and photographers etc. I ended up studying graphic design after high school in the late 90s and then worked as a designer for years whilst always messing around with drawing, skate photography and painting. Then it wasn’t until around 2005 that I felt I was creating some unique artworks and actually wanted to show people what I was doing, so I began to get involved more in the local art scene and started showing work in group exhibitions etc. I had my first solo exhibition in Sydney in 2008 and then its all just kept rolling forward from there really.
Damo: How would you describe your work?
Beastman: I like to think my work is a visual language, an ongoing and developing exploration of style, colour, lifeforms, design and precision. My works feature repetitive patterns, colours and geometry all inspired by nature. The deities in the works are a portrayal of future nature and new beginnings, spawned from the earth, as if nature has come to life in a way we could never have imagined.
Damo: You recently had your first child, has this changed the way you look at your art? Has it change your style at all?
Beastman: It hasn’t changed my artwork or style, but more altered my attitude toward life and has made me work harder and use my time more effectively.
Damo: Tell us more about your upcoming show at Backwoods Gallery. What is the concept behind it?
Beastman: My upcoming solo exhibition is called ‘Future Origins’ and will feature a series of new acrylic and ink paintings on wood, a large wall installation, a new limited edition large format print, a sculptural installation and a video animation. For me this exhibition is about showing how I create my artwork and express my visual language through using various mediums – acrylic, aerosol, digital illustration, sculpture and animation. The concept behind the works is simply a further progression of my ongoing body of work. ‘Future Origins’ refers to the idea of new lifeforms, their possible origins and growth patterns.
Damo: The work you have shown us sneak peeks of on social media looks intricate and time consuming (as does your work generally). What motivates you through it?
Beastman: Yeah my acrylic paintings are very time consuming, but I enjoy the process. I enjoy all the different mediums I work with, all of which will be on display at the exhibition. Each medium has its own advantages, disadvantages, limitations and expectations – It’s about using them all together in a cohesive and confident way to present a single and consistent body of work.
Damo: How do you find the transition from street to gallery?
Beastman: For me it’s the opposite, I started painting murals of my work after I was already exhibiting my work in galleries. I didn’t feel confident creating work in public space until I had developed my own style and characters to a point that I wanted to present them to the public with much more impact. Over the last few years it has been painting large aerosol murals and working with other artists that has challenged me and pushed my work further forward, made me try new things with great results. I am forever grateful to the artists that have worked with me and mentored me in the art of painting large mural works, and pushed me to try new things – Phibs, Numskull, Roach, Yok, and Vans The Omega. But for me the artwork is the same, it’s just the mediums that are different. I strive to paint murals as neat as possible, so that they have the same feel and visual impact as my smaller paintings and vector illustrations.
Damo: You also have some side projects – ‘East Editions’ and ‘The Hours’. Can you tell us a bit more about them and the philosophy behind each project? How do you think this has influenced the scene in Sydney?
Beastman: ‘East Editions’ is a new business my wife and I started recently, we really wanted to build something together for ourselves, for our future and family. Our shared interest in art, design, homewares, furniture and unique things led us to start ‘East Editions’. We basically created a brand that we can do whatever we like with, but the core focus is to bring together artists and makers to create unique, hand made, limited edition products, and bringing art into peoples spaces in new and different ways. So far we have worked with some great artists and makers to create hand painted furniture pieces and screen printed quilt cover sets and cushions, and looking forward we have some more great things on the way including sculptures, lamps, publications, prints and more homewares.
The other ongoing project I am part of is ‘The Hours’, which is myself, Numskull and Marty Routledge. Together we curate and present a range of art projects including exhibitions with local and international artists, limited edition shirts, mural painting events and festivals, and we also facilitate and manage commercial mural works for a range of clients. We are constantly striving to create opportunities for local artists and bring great artists over for various projects, and yes we like to think we have a positive impact on the art scene not only in Sydney but in Australia.
Damo: Of what achievement are you proudest so far?
Beastman: My son Eamon, he blows my mind everyday.
Damo: What makes you laugh / pisses you off?
Beastman: Good times with my wife and friends make me laugh. Other people’s actions piss me off more regularly as I get older, humans can be so ridiculous… myself included! Aren’t we all crazy?
Damo: What else have you been up to recently? I saw you were part of a big thing in Perth? What was that all about?
Beastman: Lately I have been trying to focus as much time as possible on creating works for the exhibition, but of course other projects are always coming along and chewing into that time, ‘East Editions’ has been taking up a lot of time lately, we just released some painted furniture with Roach and are about to do some things with Vans The Omega, Numskull and Luke Taaffe, so keep an eye out for those! The Perth thing was called Public, it’s an ongoing project put on by Form focusing on public art and reclaiming public space. I was over there for a week painting a big mural with Vans The Omega alongside some other great artists from all over Australia and the world including Gaia, Ever, 2501, Hyuro, Maya Hayak, Roa, Alexis Diaz, Remed, Phlegm, Phibs, Yok, Sheryo and many more. Form are doing amazing things and Public is a very ambitious project for them, I was stoked to be involved.
Collaboration with Vans the Omega
Damo: What words of wisdom do you have for someone who is trying to get into the scene?
Beastman: There is no scene, just create our own scene. I always encourage young artists to spend the time to develop their work before presenting it to the world. To me being an artist is about progression and development, moving forward with your work and adapting it to your life as you get older, you can’t rush it, if you do it will be evident in the work. Also you need to work harder than everyone else you know, push yourself and explore all aspects of your artwork.
Damo: You have your show coming up at Backwoods Gallery, and some interesting things coming up with ‘East Editions’. What else can we expect to see from Beastman in 2014?
Beastman: After this Backwoods show I’m doi ng another solo show at Above Second Gallery in Hong Kong in September. Also have some great mural projects in the works, a couple things with Element, and ‘The Hours’ have some cool things lining up also. ‘East Editions’ will be continuing to release new collaborations throughout the year, be sure to follow us @easteditions to keep up to date with what’s coming up. My wife is also expecting our second child, so I think later in the year you can find me deep in the dad zone!
Collaboration with Phibs
Damo: Where else can people find you?
Beastman: In the dad zone…