· By Maria Nilsson
Easty Beasty x Atmosea
It was my two older brothers originally that ‘got’ me into surfing - except it was more just me wanting to be able to do what they did. I thought they looked really cool being able to surf and I loved hearing about their surf stories, and so eventually I was like, I wanna do what they do.
I think in terms of how, as I got exposed to surf culture, it influenced my work, I just love the radical differences in surfing. You have this vast spectrumy mix of rat bagginess, gladiatorial charging, and incredible peace, harmony, softness and elegance. I loved surfing’s relationship with the ocean, the natural, and the raw. Looking in on surf culture, my art was almost more voyeuristic at first, but now I feel like it’s really, deeply me. Maybe I kind of found myself through it.
Favourite thing about surfing?
I love how much of a reset it is for me. Whenever I’m out there no problems on land ever seem that big. If I’m in a shit mood or there’s stuff going on, a surf will always, always put me in a position where I just take a big breath out. It gives me distance physically and mentally from the tough stuff. Also, everyone knows *that* feeling on a wave.
In terms of your surfing journey, can you share any specific stories, milestones or turning points that have impacted your artistic journey?
I have this one memory really early on when I was surfing at sunset. I remember I popped up at the top of this wave, and as I stood up, the sun hit the water at this perfect angle where all the water underneath and ahead of me was molten gold. I got this bizarre, spacey sensation, where it felt like my body turned from a solid thing into almost something like air. It was wild. It was like all my atoms and cells separated. That unexplainable feeling has always stayed with me in the narratives in my work - this turning from physical to intangible. It was almost like for a second I wasn’t real. It was incredible.
How has your own connection to surfing and the ocean shaped your artistic perspective?
So much of my work is focused on those previously mentioned binary opposites in surfing. The wild, the weird, the gremliny, matched up against the solemn, peaceful and the elegant. It’s that youth culture as well that matches up against the agelessness and spirituality of water. It’s cool.
Tell us about your creative process…
I don’t think my creative process is that interesting, or even that conducive to really amazing work to be honest. I definitely have some work to do in that area. If I had a bit more discipline, I’d be doing way more experiments and tests before I get cracking on my final pieces, but by nature I’m a bit impatient. So my creative process is usually kind of short - some sketches, loooottss of notes in my phone where I get what I think is a great idea and have to write it down. I take screenshots of things that jog an idea or a thought too sometimes. I think going forward I’d like to incorporate a bit more of a collective drop with my works - exploring specific themes at a time. But I guess creativity doesn’t always work like that.
I’m working on slowing down a little bit on my work, and making sure it’s the best version of itself.
Was there any particular emotional or sensory experience that sparked the idea for this artwork?
Not necessarily sensory or emotional - I just love how fun and warm Atmosea’s attitude towards surfing is, so I wanted to incorporate that lightheartedness, with a little bit of cheek.
What was your main focus when dreaming up this tee?
I just wanted something that the Atmosea gals would love to wear. And I didn’t want it to be a white tee haha.
What elements of your art resonate with the surf culture Atmosea represents?
It’s the women in my art that feel really aligned to Atmosea. The women in my work are usually a reflection of my body, and my relationship to my body. That relationship fluctuates all the time from positive to negative. I think drawing my women the way I do - a little uneven, with cellulite and a belly - kind of feels like an act of acceptance. Because at the same time, all these women are also these all-powerful and ultimately gorgeous sea goddesses.
My women are actually all called Melusine, who was a medieval water goddess often associated with a holy well or sacred water. I’m really inspired by history and historical folklore. Somehow, Melusine found her way into representations of women in my surf art, and ultimately, representations of me.
What does community mean to you?
The word community just brings feelings of the locals. I live in Bondi, which can be a bit of a bubble. You always see the same people around the neighbourhood. I call it the campus cause you step out from your house and pretty much always run into someone you know. I really love that, and the incidental connections and chats you have with those people who are semi strangers, but also not really.
We’ve been a long time fan of Easty Beasty… What is your favourite project you’ve worked on?
That’s such a hard pick! I’ve been really lucky to be able to work on some really fun jobs. I think my favourite ongoing project that has been super enjoyable is the monthly flash tattoo mystery boxes. I’m up to my fourth now, and it’s been such a fun, low-stakes way to explore new ideas and flex the creative muscles. Plus, people seem to be really liking them.
Future plans and goals?
What is next for Easty Beasty!
2024 is hopefully going to be a big year with some changes afoot for Easty! I’m currently exploring options on the clothing side of things. I’m really limited at the moment with what clothes I can offer, and I’d love to be able to release a small range of clothes sourced from ethical manufacturers where I have more control over the designs.
I’d love to start to work bigger as well, with some really big resin pieces for surf shops and galleries. So watch this space.
And as always, I’ll be staying thankful and grateful for what I get to do. I can’t believe I’m actually living out my childhood dream of being a full time artist. It’s fucking sick.