I was born in Ballarat, just over an hour out of Melbourne. At the age of six I knew I wanted to be an artist and, at a similar time, discovered surfing and my passion for the coast had begun. When I was at secondary school, one of my teachers had said only two per cent of living artists make a living off their art, so I decided to become a graphic designer.
In many ways it was a positive result for eventually becoming an artist. I went to Chisholm Institute in Caufield where I met fellow designer Dave Bowers and, over time, we hit it off. After working in Melbourne for a few years after college I moved to the west coast of Victoria and, in 1990, Dave and I started a clothing label called Umgawa. It was incredibly successful but our inexperience caught up with us and from there I went on to become the art director at Quiksiver in Torquay, which had been something I had always aspired to. To be living down the coast working in an industry that moulded in around surfing was a dream come true. A few years later I bean my own freelance graphics company called Anyhow, servicing the surf streetwear industry working for the biggest labels in the world. The business peaked around 2004 when we were invited to speak at Semi Permanent graphics conference in Sydney and then later at Agideas with a host of international designers.
During this time a group of mates were having an small exhibition in Torquay and insisted that Dave and I put some art in. I had not painted for over 20 years and knowing where to start was a little confronting. Thanks to my graphics business some of my staff had introduced me to screenprinting technique that I could do from the garage. With a little Andy Warhol inspiration I created my first batch of paintings and ignited a fire that was soon to consume me. Over the next couple of years I worked on my art in my time off but my passion for graphics was starting to fade. In the particular industry I was in, which in many ways had lost its soul, it seemed like we were just being asked to make copies of successful prints from overseas without getting the client into any copyright issues. Creativity was becoming harder to find.
I started working with a life coach, feeling a little lost for the first time in my life, and eventually worked out it was art that I wanted to do all along, which seemed amazing as it was so obvious to me as a kid. We worked out a plan that I could finance my life if I cut my overheads and did three days of graphics per week and then Thursday and Friday were for painting. It took all the guilt away from thinking it was just a hobby. She also got me to set a date for an exhibition. I spoke to Dave, as during this process the two of us started mucking about on joint canvases after being inspired by the Basquiat film, and he agreed to have an exhibition in May 2007 in Melbourne. So we booked an art space in Fitzroy.
We exhibited both solo and collaborative art and had a sell-out show. For the next show, someone had suggested we should get our own stand at Art Sydney. Once again we sold out and this set me up enough to decide to become a full time artist.We went on to have more sell-out shows and soon found ourselves in both France and Hong Kong. It has been an incredibly successful journey ever since.