8 Questions with Artist Luke Taaffe
Luke Taaffe is an elusive dingo native to Australia but sometimes found lurking around the Newport Peninsula. His psychedelic paintings are colorful depictions of distorted images and travelled destinations bordering reality and illusion. We're excited to have Luke as our newest Billabong Gallery Collection artist and wanted to get to know him a little better -
How did you get started as an artist?
I always had an interest in the visual arts, which started in High School and led to a career in Graphic Design. My network of friends that I grew up with also shared the same passion for creativity, so we all pushed each other in taking it more seriously than a hobby. We started doing a lot of group shows together in and around Sydney which has somehow led to where I am today.
What was the inspiration for your capsule collection with Billabong?
The capsule collection was driven by an idea to create an assortment of work that was more print & pattern based than graphic inspired. The opportunity to have multiple shorts in the line allowed me the freedom to develop 3 unique prints that could be used across Billabongs many different boardshort styles. Each print has a psychedelic flow and energy to it, which can be linked to the late 60’s fashion & culture. Examples of this would be the art direction of the Beatles movie ‘The Yellow Submarine’ and fabric designs by the Italian fashion house of Emilio Pucci.
What makes this collection with Billabong special?
I’m at a stage of my career where I’m happy with where my art is moving towards, so this collection is really capturing a nice moment in time. Its also the first time I’ve collaborated with a brand for a while, and the opportunity to drive art direction was an integral part of the connection.
What’s your favorite piece from your collection?
My favourite piece is the elastic waist ‘LAYBACK’ short. The pastel colourway of this style gives the psychedelic print a really relaxed and wearable feel to it. I’ve always been a fan of Billabong's rich history so it seemed natural to include some heritage branding which we made into some cool badges to go with my signature patch. It’s also a little shorter in length than the others which is great!
If you had to describe your art in one word, what would it be?
What’s inspiring you at the moment?
Travel! I’m enjoying the desert landscapes & colours of Southern California, especially the Mojave region. The close proximity of the Joshua Tree & places like Palm Springs are so convenient to access for the day from Newport, so I often take weekend trips out there with the family. We also just came back from Costa Rica which was a great experience, so I’m in the process now of building a collection of paintings based on some of the locations we visited. The first piece has been inspired by the region where the Arenal Volcano is located.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what’s the one thing you would want to have with you and why?
Maybe some kind of ball that I could paint a face on…it seemed to work for Tom Hanks.
You’re from Australia but live in America – can you tell us about how each of those places have influenced your art and the connection you have to each place?
I’ve always made a conscious effort to change up my colour palettes whenever I've relocated to a new country or area. I guess this has been a natural transition because the scenery & subject matter to what I paint dramatically changes with these focus points. I grew up on the East Coast of Australia and have always been connected to a relaxed lifestyle which influenced my earlier work. It wasn’t until I started traveling & relocating for work, that a more connected focus to a location took shape in the content of my art. America is inspiring & diverse on so many levels whether it's the rich history it has played in the evolution of surf culture or the abstract expressionist movement that came out of New York in the 40’s, there's so much to take in!