I have stood in awe of the amazingly fresh, bright and positively stimulating art work of Heather Brown on a number of occasions asking myself so many questions about her practice and life. Luckily I started this site and have had the absolute privilege of publishing this interview with her. At the end of reading and viewing this page I hope you too get a thirst for her work.
Heather grew up in California but moved to Hawai’i to study Fine Arts at University. She decided to take advantage of the natural inspiration in front of her during her studies. The crystal clear waters and flowing, relaxed surf culture are established through her perfect mix of bright colours and solid lines. She now creates spectacular art pieces and tours internationally and we are honoured for the opportunity to have her on The Mermaid Society as a talented girl of the sea.
When did you first start with this specific style with the dominant lines and bright colours? I have been creating art my whole life but not until I went to art school at The University of Hawai’i did I get deeply immersed into printmaking. Old arts like Intaglio, linocut, wood cut prints, serigraphy and more. I just loved the bold lines and simplicity of imagery that printmaking had.
When I was getting close to graduating (and would no longer have all the great equipment and space, at the time I was living in a tiny place in Haleiwa) I started to re-create a lot of the carvings and prints I had made in the past as paintings to see how it would convey and at that point I fell in love with color and all the values and layering of color you could do in painting but still loved the deep bold lines, so I combined the two to fins my happy place.
How often do you get out in the water? and what are your boards of choice at the moment? Unfortunately I don’t get in the water as much as I used to because of my travel schedule for shows and a lot of time behind the easel at my home studio. I still try to get out for a session or two every good swell though and we just took a fun little surf trip to Mexico too! My boards of choice at the moment are my Two Crows Surfboard model (the Sea Siren) which is an 8’11” single fin lady log. I also love my Bing Lovebird model.
What is your favourite break and why? I would have to say that my favorite all time place to surf is still in Waikiki, I love Pops, threes, Queens. They are all such fun waves and the view of Diamond Head while surfing is just the most incredible thing to me as a surfer, I feel like we are surfing in the wakes of the originators of our lifestyle. On the North Shore where we live I have a few favorites too!
Did you pick styles from any other artists? If so what drew you to them and do you still look to them for inspiration? Inspiration for me is everywhere. When I was going to school I discovered Paul Klee and Hundertwasser and both of those artists definitely had a big influence on my art. Artists like Andy Davis, Thomas Campbell, Wolfgang Bloch and other modern day artists have also inspired me to do what I love and enjoy art in a more free way.
You are working with events and surf companies to design posters and designs for apparel, whats that like and what’s your favourite commercial project? I could never pick a favorite, but I have loved my relationship with Rip Curl for the past 6 years or so now and this year I have done my first snowboard collaboration for the 2014-2015 season with Elan, I got to design 3 boards and got to ride the prototypes this last season and they were great! I just finished the new artwork for the Surfrider Foundation John Kelly Awards which is always an honor for me too!
When you were little what was your biggest dream? Do you think you’ve kept true to it in any way? Ha ha! I had two. 1. for M&M’s to make blue M&M’s (and they did!!) 2. to work with animals, while this did not come totally true, we do have quite a few at our home, we have 4 dogs, 2 cats and chickens. I also always love to paint animals.
Do you ever experiment with any other mediums besides paint and printing? When I was younger I did a ton of charcoal drawings and pencil sketching. I still do some sculpting and wood work too, I love all art forms and try to keep it fresh.
Are there any other artists or designers you’d love to collaborate with? I collaborate with my husband (www.TheCaptainSurfs.com) a good bit. To me collaboration work is really hard (it took about 7 years before I did my first with Chris, and now I love collaborating with him because we each know each other so deeply that we do not offend each other and we both know what the other works like.
Where do you start when you sit down with an idea for a piece? Different on every piece for sure. I always have a camera with me and I am always shooting photos that inspire me so by the time I sit down with a canvas, I have so many ideas running through my head (the hard part is editing them all down!)
Any tips for girls who are striving to get their own work noticed? I hate to give “advice” as it seems a bit egomaniac. I just usually tell my story of working really hard towards a goal, loving what you are doing so much that you can do it 12+ hours a day 6+ days a week. The art world has changed so much in the past 20 years or so and I think exponentially in the past 5, so I think you just need to do what you love and share. I have always been a huge supporter of charities and non-profits that have similar beliefs and I am always donating art work for them which is a great way to find your niche in your area too.
Any inspirational words of advice you’ve been given? Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life!
How often do you produce new pieces? I paint at least 6 days a week.
What are 3 words that describe your relationship with the ocean? Love, Respect, Life
Where can we get hold of your work? My official website is www.HeatherBrownArt.com (which includes a link to the galleries and stores worldwide that carry my art and we ship worldwide)
My blog is www.HeatherBrownSurfArtBlog.com
In closing… I just want to thank you for the interview and all of the pople that have helped my art career for the past 14 years or so around the world. I appreciate it so much and my goal in art has always been really simple. I want to make art that puts smiles on peoples faces and Aloha in their hearts. If that is working, I am stoked! Mahalo Nui Loa and A Hui Ho!
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