EE: What was it like growing up on NSW Central Coast?
LT: Growing up on the Central Coast was an easy way of life. Situated in between Newcastle and Sydney, you have the advantage of what the city offers as well as being isolated enough to escape the crowds.
EE: Where did your interest in art come from?
LT: My interest in visual art comes from my parents and their circle of friends working as school teachers and artists. There was always an endless amount of art supplies coming home for my disposal. My grandmother was also incredibly talented in textiles (owned and operated a dress making store) and she often made one off pieces for me and my sisters. That generation made everything from the houses they built to the clothes they wore. I remember getting board shorts with wild prints given to me on the same day she’d made them.
EE: Did your coastal upbringing and love of surfing influence your art making?
LT: Definitely, my work is mainly centered around land and seascapes which is a personal reflection of my upbringing. The high key colour I use in my work stems from my exposure to the 80’s/90’s surf and skate culture, where everything we wore was bright, saturated and loud. I went to Terrigal High School where the visual art department was amazing and the teachers were always encouraging the students who wanted to learn!
EE: Your artwork looks like some kind of mid century psychedelic acid surfing trip. Where do you get the inspiration for the colours, patterns and symbology in your artwork?
LT: I was lucky to have parents that had a good taste in music and there record collection was a testament to that. Being exposed to to album artwork like the Zeppelin’s ‘House of the Holy’ and Cream’s ‘Disraeli Gears’ as a kid has shaped my love of colour and design. The patterns and symbology I use come from my interest in textile prints and elements I see through my immediate surroundings.
EE: You work with lots of different mediums from painting on recycled wood, ink illustration, screen printing and digital graphics. What’s your favourite medium to get creative with?
LT: I paint mainly with acrylics and indian ink but I like to jump from one medium to another. Working in textiles and graphic design has given me an appreciation of the many ways art can be created and applied.
EE: How did you come up with the concept and design for the cushion covers? Did the limitations of screen printing dictate the work?
LT: The concept and design of the piece came from a pattern I’ve been working with for a while now in my works. It’s loosely based around isobar weather charts and the patterns that are naturally found in wood.
EE: What was the best part of the process for you?
LT: Best part of the process was helping to hand screen print them with Shannon at Aisle6ix in Sydney after a 14hr flight from Los Angeles! Driving through the inner city of Sydney makes me homesick and for some reason, that part of town reminds me of You Am I’s album Hi Fi Way!
EE: You have been living in California for the last couple of years, can you tell us about what you are doing there and why you chose to move there?
LT: I relocated there from my position in Torquay to California as part of strategic global move for Quiksilver. I’m part of a team that creates and manages the textile prints and graphics for Roxy. It’s a really creative and diverse role which impacts many categories for the brand like swimwear, apparel, footwear and accessories.
EE: Do you feel that working for a major surf label Quiksilver/Roxy has changed your art in any capacity? How does your own art versus your commercial work differ?
LT: Working in fashion has enabled my creativity to expand beyond paint and brushes as I’m working on a day to day basis with colour and fabric. The commercial work I do for Roxy is created around a clear seasonal direction, and the approach to creating the seasons prints and graphics is very different to the way I start a new work.
EE: You recently held a solo exhibition in France. How was your work received there?
LT: The show was held in Saint Jean De Luz at the Quiksilver Boardriders store about half an hour from the spanish border. Titled ‘Detail De Plaisir’, it was a small body of work based around the simple pleasures found in the overlap of the natural and surreal worlds we live in. The work was received really well and it was good to show to a new audience who knew nothing about me.
EE: Has your current location and surroundings had an influenced on the work you are now creating?
LT: Most of the work I’m currently doing is a documentation and response to the immediate location I’m living at. The studio apartment I live in is situated on a peninsula in Newport Beach about an hour from Los Angeles and the area itself has a lot of history in regards to surfing and beach culture. There is repetition in the symbology I use from the things I see daily, whether it’s Catalina Island in the distance or the unoccupied lifeguard towers that are dotted up and down the coast.
EE: What’s next for Luke Taaffe?
LT: Traveling and collaborating with inspiring people that I meet on these paths.