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Matt English

Representing the Gold Coast’s golden good vibes.

He’s a local artist with a passion for the Coast’s surf, arts and music culture. Recently Matt English aka Crooked Wonderland was commissioned by The Undercurrent to design a tee representing the Gold Coast’s golden good vibes.

We sat down for a chat with Matt about his desire for more local murals and why being an artist is a never-ending journey. 

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have been a local for nine years now after moving up from the Sydney when I was 18.

How does our city influence your art?
The people of the Gold Coast have a big influence on my art as the majority of it is based on the local beauty and surf culture.

You recently designed a t-shirt for The Undercurrent representing the Gold Coast, what did you include and why?
I included a girl surfing on a mini-mal with the type ‘Good Vibes Only’ as I see the Gold Coast’s culture as based around surf, art, music and good vibes.

How do you describe your style of art?
My artwork is fine lined with minimal detail but still keeping its form.

Do you have a favourite piece of art you’ve created?
My favourite artwork would have to be a poster I made for my son when he was born, creating something for your loved ones has to be the best feeling than any other thing you could do.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts scene?
It’s growing slowly, I would love to see more murals and art around the streets to express what this city is really about. There is a big difference between graffiti and art and I hope the Council will soon figure this out so our city can have more colour.

What’s been your personal artistic journey?
I left school early to study Graphic Design and as I grew up my style changed. I feel like I have finally found my style but it’s forever developing and I’m trying to find new mediums that fit my style. It’s a journey that will never stop.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
It’s pretty simple, my Grandpa was an artist and his last words were “don’t stop doing what you love and always push yourself to develop your talent”. It may seem like nothing but who it came from means a lot more.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Burleigh Heads as it is really the only suburb I have lived in and would never want to move
Restaurant: Balboa Italian, nice food and great customer service
How does your weekend usually look: Saturday’s I’ll be at the beach and going for a surf and Sunday’s are when I get to look after my son, so they are the adventure days.

Laura Strange

She’s the girl you instantly want to adopt as your best friend, not to mention a talented designer, artist, jewellery maker and one half of local creative biz Art-work Agency.

Recently, Laura was commissioned to create a design for The Undercurrent’s Nobby Beach tee shirt, a place close to her heart. We sat down for a chat with her on capturing the cool and collected vibe of the beachside suburb we all know and love.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local? 
I’ve been an official “full-time” Gold Coaster for almost three years now. I was living down here part-time previously while working in Brisbane, but was able to make the transition down here in 2015 and haven’t looked back! I’ve always had an affiliation with the coast and beach. I spent my early childhood on the northern beaches in Cairns before my family moved to Brisbane. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Broadbeach, so that saw me visiting the coast with family most weekends. I have fond memories of summer days spent walking down to Kurrawa Beach via the Broachbeach Mall with a melting ice cream in hand!

What do you love most about our beautiful city?
It’s hard to pick one thing, but I would say our sense of community is really unique and wonderful. People around the coast are generally super friendly – taking a morning walk means you’re greeted by at least a handful of people every day. We’ve got lots of the “big city” perks – food, coffee, arts and cultural activities, but we’ve kept our “small town” charm. It’s something I hope remains in the city as we grow and mature.

You recently designed a t-shirt for The Undercurrent representing Nobby Beach, what did you include and why? 
Nobby Beach is an area really special to me as it’s where my husband was living when we first met! As he’s been on the Gold Coast since he was a kid, he has a lot of fond memories of Nobby Beach and the Magic Mountain era. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the history of the area and also to learn about how it influenced my husband growing up.

I wanted to capture this sense of nostalgia, but also capture the cool and collected reputation the precinct holds today. The chairlift was included as a tribute to the Magic Mountain days, and also because it’s such a quirky thing to have beachside – the chairlift is usually associated with the snow, not the sand! I also chose to incorporate two key street-signs from the area, Chairlift Ave (obviously!) and Lavarack Rd. For me, these two streets form the “heart” of Nobby’s – home to cafes, restaurants and access to the beach.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts scene? 
Everything about arts and culture on the Gold Coast is exciting. There’s so much going on that it’s starting to get hard to keep up – which is great. Gone are the “cultural wasteland” days – we’re amidst a new era of cultural change and innovation on the coast. Our cultural programming is distinctly Gold Coast and I hope that continues as we grow. We are really good at embracing our landscape and environment through cultural activities, and I think this is something we do differently to other destinations – perhaps because until now we haven’t had the facilities to house performances, so programmers have had to be experimental with venues and locations. Opera or sculptures on the beach? Dance workshops in the park? Theatre in the penthouses of high-rises? We do it all. We do it really, really well.

Where do you think we’ll be in five years? 
The development of the Cultural Precinct will change the arts and culture landscape on the coast for the better, and will bring more opportunities for emerging and established creatives – which will entice them to stay here rather than relocate to other cities. We’ll see more young people choosing to call the coast home. My friends in Brisbane and further afield will finally agree that the coast has culture.  The amount of coffee shops within walking distance from my house will have doubled to 24 (there’s currently 12…how nuts is that!).

What’s been your personal artistic journey? 
I wouldn’t have branded myself as a “creative” growing up, so sometimes I’m still surprised that I chose a career in art and design! I was told by my year 12 careers councillor that I’d never be a graphic designer because I couldn’t draw super well…what a farce that was! I soon discovered that design wasn’t about illustrating and making things “pretty”, but rather about solving problems, which suited me really well.

You’re both an artist and a designer, what’s your favourite thing to create? 
I’m happiest when I’m creating something that looks beautiful and solves a business need. I’m a pretty practical person and I like to create for an outcome or purpose. While a lot of artists savor the process…I’m more of a destination girl! I love seeing the outcome of a project and looking at the impact it has on the business.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received? 
What you think you attract – I always try to be positive and see the glass half full, not empty. Think positively and you’ll attract positivity.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourite on the Coast…
Beach: Love the Miami Beach front/Marine Parade.
Cafe: Can I pick two? All Time Coffee (almond latte and a doughnut) and Skull and Bones (bulletproof to go, please!)
Restaurant: This is tricky…it’s a toss up between Justin Lane, The Lamb Shop and Itoshin!
How does your weekend usually look? Morning walk to All Time to get moving, followed by a cruisy lunch with family or friends. Evenings usually involve attending a cultural event (theatre, film or exhibition) and some Netflix with my husband and kitties for good measure.

Phil Ramskill

Phil Ramskill is a local designer and illustrator primarily known for his work with Gold Coast larrikins The Mad Hueys. Recently, local clothing brand The Undercurrent recruited Phil aka Philustrations to design a cap representing our sunny city.

We sat down for a chat with Phil about his cruisy style and the local good vibes that influenced his design.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been on the Gold Coast for 14 years, moving here at the age of 14 from New Zealand. I was born in England and moved to New Zealand when I was five.

How does our city influence your art?
I’m influenced by the vibes and feelings I absorb subconsciously. As my style develops, the feel good sunshine beach vibes of the Gold Coast make their way into my art more and more.

You recently designed a cap for local brand The Undercurrent, why did you include the elements you did?
I got tasked with creating a design representing the entire Gold Coast. I decided to develop a graphic to display the general feeling and vibe of the Coast and included a smooth go with the flow style font that just says “GOLD COAST”. The ‘C’ in the word COAST is a dolphin which I included for a couple of reasons, the obvious one being we see dolphins along our shores all year round. The second is because dolphins are often displayed as symbols of paradise and I wanted this design to feel very much like a depiction of paradise. We are a Coastal town famous for our beaches, and I’m sure most of us have hobbies that include our beaches, so this was a must for this design. I did it in a way to give off the feel good holiday/paradise vibe.

I’ve included a cool smiling sun beaming out over the whole design too. Our town is known well for our usually fantastic weather, and we flourish on a sunny day. They bring everyone out to the beach and setting the town alive.

People’s artistic creations are always so unique to them and their experiences, how would you describe your style?
I’m a fairly ‘fun’, driven person, always just doing what I think will be enjoyable and looking for the next fun thing to do. I like to have fun with my work, not take it too seriously and I just let that flow into my art. I have worked almost exclusively as a men’s apparel designer through my career so I have developed a very bold, easy to view kind of style with a masculine edge to appeal to guys.

Has your style evolved over time and have there been any particular times in your life that have influenced the art you create?
Definitely, my style began as almost a straight up artist. I had no composition or design integrity. I just used to want to draw pictures and slap them on t-shirts. I have been able to see the sales results to each design I have created and then used that information to develop my style into what you see today. I am by no means perfect and still learn new things everyday! The journey of an artist never ends. I think as time goes by different periods in our life do influence our art. I feel like as I progress as an artist, I am chasing new challenges which pushes me to develop and change my art.

You’ve done quite a lot of work with The Mad Hueys, how did that come about?
I managed to get my foot in the door fairly early with The Mad Hueys, doing freelance designs for a couple of years before they were ready to take on a full-time tee designer. I had a friend on the inside who had seen the work I had previously done for other men’s apparel brands, so he got me onboard! Nearly three years ago now I became a full-time Huey and have been loving designing for them ever since.

Is there a piece of art you’ve created that you particularly love?
Yes, there is one in particular. When I first began at The Mad Hueys, they did a collaboration with a surfboard company called Catch Surf. They told me to do the most colourful craziest design I could come up with. I got a couple of weeks to just work on this, so I loaded up on surf graphic inspiration and then developed an electric neon Skeleton captain doing a shoey with a octopus in his pocket and steering a ship haha.

What’s the journey you’ve taken to get to where you are now?
I started my journey doing a two year diploma of graphic design at Ashmore Tafe when I was 21. I had an absolute blast and realised I had made the best decision ever and I would be a graphic designer forever. It took me a while to get a job but my illustration skills is what launched me into my first job. I was taken on by a company that developed Tapout Australia and Dickies Australia, so straight off the bat I had some cool companies on my resume. I then joined the team at Jetpilot where I learnt tons and feel like I developed a lot as a designer. I was only there for a year but it was a turning point. I went straight from Jetpilot to The Mad Hueys, which is where I am now. I just enjoy what I do, so I do it day and night! 

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
My Mum has always guided me with the best life advice “Just do what makes you happy”. She never pressured me to get a high paying job or pursuing things that I wasn’t interested in. She only ever encouraged me to do what makes me happy and thats exactly what I do! And in doing so, I’ve been able to create a career based on what I love doing. Which I think is the key foundation of being successful.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Beach: Burleigh, its my home beach!
Café: Social Espresso. They provide me with my much-needed coffee every morning.
Restaurant: Ze Pickle goes down a treat every-time.
How does your weekend usually look? My weekends can vary from busy doing work to being outdoors and enjoying nature in and out of the ocean or at some event getting wild. One thing that is consistent is that I’ll always be enjoying a cafe breakfast and a nice restaurant meal at some point on the weekend!

Hayley O

Local fashion illustrator and graphic designer Hayley O’Connor has worked with a slew of impressive international brands including Billabong and Collective Hub. Her style echoes urban lifestyles and surf culture with a distinctly feminine quality and is the perfect representation of the Gold Coast’s growing arts scene.

We sat down for a chat with Hayley about her recent tee shirt design for local brand The Undercurrent and how our beautiful beaches influence her work.   

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I moved to the Gold Coast from Melbourne almost three years ago now. I got a job with Billabong as a graphic designer and made the move! I wasn’t sure how long I would be here but fell in love with the place and its beach lifestyle.

What do you love most about our city?
The beaches and all the new cafes and restaurants popping up! I think leaving Melbourne, I was worried about finding good coffee and food but Gold Coast food is really impressive and I’m definitely not missing out. I also love that there’s a real sense of community here. You always bump into someone you know and there’s a fun, friendly vibe.

How is the art you create influenced by the world around you?
I have a lot of references to the tropics and the ocean in my work, which I definitely think is influenced by living here. These things have kind of merged with my love of fashion from growing up in Melbourne.

You illustrated a Broadbeach tee shirt design for local brand The Undercurrent, why did you include the elements you did?
I guess when I think of Broadbeach I think of the nightlife. I wanted to create a retro pin up kind of girl in bathers to represent the beach and sunshine and I included the cocktail glass and playing cards to represent The Star casino. The seal is a reference to one of Broadbeachs’ first hotels on the Coast, Lennons Broadbeach Hotel. The famous seal statue from the Lennons pool now sits outside the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in a nod to the past.

How would you describe your artistic style?
I would say it’s feminine with an edge. I love drawing beautiful girls surrounded by nature, patterns and tattoos.

You’ve worked with some impressive brands, is there a commercial piece you’ve created that you particularly love?
I think the piece I created for Surfing World Magazine. They have a section of the mag called “The Octopus” and the brief was pretty much do what ever I wanted but just don’t draw an octopus! I liked how weird and fun the brief was and it started me drawing a series of mermaids that are some of my favourite pieces still.

Do you have a style of art you most enjoy creating?
I have two styles of illustration. One is really detailed with pencils and watercolour and the other is a simpler style I create with pens and markers while mixing in typography. I like jumping between the two as my detailed is more serious and my simpler is fun and quirky.

What’s been the journey you’ve taken to get where you are today?
I guess a lot of time drawing for the love of it and hard work over the years had led me to where I am today.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever been given?
Life’s too short to do something you don’t love.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Beach: Miami and Greenmount
Café: Bam Bam Bakery
Restaurant: Rick Shores / Etsu
How does your weekend usually look? Pretty much drawing and hanging at the beach!

The Undercurrent

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