Meet Ash Nixon, a Gold Coast artist (and larrikin if we may say so) who has created pieces for everyone’s favourite online satire The Betoota Advocate and, more recently, local brand The Undercurrent.
We sat down for a chat with Ash about his artistic ode to Paul Kelly and why Palm Beach is the greatest suburb on the Gold Coast.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Since the year 2000, I have been in between the Coast and where I grew up near Goondiwindi.
What do you love most about our beautiful city?
It’s pretty hard to go past the beaches, particularly the southern point breaks.
You recently designed a t-shirt for The Undercurrent representing (everyone’s fave suburb) Palm Beach, what did you include and why?
For Palmy I wanted to pay homage to a bygone era of coast culture. Recently I stumbled across a flyer for The Playroom. From memory the bill featured Split Enz, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and The Angels, all on consecutive nights! What an institution. Some of my friends parents had met there, so it seemed sacrilegious not to feature or reference it. As it was located at the northernmost end of Palmy, I thought paying my respects to the southern end could be a nice touch (hence the creek to creek phrase). The old Cheshire Cat Motel came to mind straight away, mainly due to its awesome signage along the GC Highway.
How did you come to work with The Betoota Advocate?
Funnily enough I met Clancy and Errol at the Wallaroo Hotel in Coolatai (not too far from my Dad’s place) where they were investigating the reappearance of the Coolatai Panther. As there were only about four people in the pub, they were trying to glean as much information as possible – before the publican starting pouring rum, that is. Eventually I was questioned, and pretty swiftly swung the conversation around to my line of work, and they hired me upon seeing my caricature of the Panther on the side of the pub. I even got to go to Parliament House for their most recent book launch, bloody ripper!
Do you have a favourite piece in your own collection?
I’d have to say the graphics that I’ve slapped onto tees just recently. The first one is an ode to the Paul Kelly song “40 Miles to Saturday Night” which tells the story of two station hands driving into a country town in SA to spend their weeks paycheck on a good time. The second is a graphic about the grandeur of gum trees, called “Australasian Eucalypt Appreciation Society”.
What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts scene?
I think it’s incredibly heartening for all of us creatives, who are looking for a wider audience! But most importantly it allows the general public to appreciate art and be inspired themselves.
What’s been your personal artistic journey?
After studying graphic design, I’ve had many jobs that weren’t design related but that have been integral to me being able to continue doing what I love. I started out doing band posters and flyers and branding small businesses. I’ve done a smattering of sign writing too. To be perfectly honest, it all started with my dad’s collection of Footrot Flats and old servo signs that adorned his shed. My art practice is a mixed bag of graphic design, signwriting and healthy adoration of Australiana.
What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.
Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourite on the Coast…
Cafe: Barefoot Barista, Palm Beach
Restaurant: Punjabi Flavour
How does your weekend usually look: Some surfing, some eating of tasty grub, some more surfing, maybe a drink or two on Saturday evening over more tasty grub. Sleep and repeat. Maybe a smattering of op shopping in there also.
Interview by Kirra Smith (passionate Palm Beach local).