Our Artisan Project - Alex Reid
Interview by Luke Mitchell
The third installation of Our Artisan Project is brought to you by the talented Alex Reid. Drawing inspiration from his environment and the masters of old, Alex's design mixes traditional Japanese illustration style with a modern approach, a perfect mix for our latest release.
Tell us about your story as an artist?
Hello I’m Alex, I’m a graphic artist based on the Surf Coast of Victoria, Wadawurrung Country. I’ve been living and working here for over 5 years now.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always drawn. From filling up folders with Anime characters to school books with band logos - I was always fascinated with replicating whatever interested me visually. This slowly but surely led me to defining my own style or illustration. It’s always an evolving process, but you tend to gravitate back to and develop your own particular style. Music and Art were always the interests that really drove my hobbies, as well as being fascinated and involved in certain underground cultures. It wasn’t until high school that I really became aware of the world of graphic art and design. After studying in Prahran for a couple of years I eventually landed a job doing graphics in the surf industry down here on the Surf Coast. Being able to carve out a career based on surfing and art has been a bit of a dream come true.
How would you describe your art or yourself as an artist?
I suppose my style is always evolving, but I love monochrome single-line illustration. It’s a bit of a mish-mash between new and old, from etching-style line work to loose brushwork, I always try to retain a tangibly hand drawn and human expression about my work.
I’m currently really interested in 17th century European etchings, the line work and detail from that era is insane. Additionally, Woodblock printing in Japan from the Edo Period showcases some incredibly intricate line work and detail, the way many artists map out the anatomy of waves for instance is incredible. From a more modern perspective, some neo-traditional blackwork style tattooing to me is a really interesting evolution adaptation of some of these styles.
What is the message or feeling of this piece?
Visually I would love for the observer to be transported back to eras of artwork that was crafted by hand. Japan is known for its incredible attention to detail and craftsmanship, from functional workwear clothing to painstakingly created wood block printing or Shibori dying. This is my homage to these disciplines. I hope they will resonate with the artwork and be as stoked as I am to have created it. I like to think the crew who run Yuki have a particular respect for both the quality garments and the natural playground we are blessed to enjoy, so this felt like a good direction to take.
What is the inspiration behind this piece?
When approaching this brief, I wanted to create a bit of an amalgamation of experience and folklore, blurring the lines between the tangible world and myth. I think we map out meaning through the vehicle of stories and I wanted to collide my experiences of visiting Japan to snowboard with some references to dragons popular in Japanese folklore, or yokai.
What organisation did you choose to donate to and why?
I’ve chosen to donate to the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust. I wanted to distort this campaign towards something closer to home and I feel very grateful of the beautiful country we live in. That being said, in Australia’s short colonial history, we have managed to reinstate ourselves as the only developed nation to be listed as a deforestation hotspot, according to WWF. Karrkad Kanjdji works with Indigenous Ranger groups in one of the most culturally rich and biodiverse regions of Australia – West and Central Arnhem Land (Northern Territory). One of the things I like most about the Trust is that their projects are 100% community driven.
Soapbox moment. Is there anything you want to give thanks for, call out or start a conversation about?
I’m absolutely stoked to be working with Yuki on this series. I’ve been a long time admirer of their ethos and love the values the team live and work by. Seeing Mitch and the crew build a brand with such strong direction and standards, from environmental consciousness to quality product, it’s inspiring stuff.
My family and friends are the glue that holds me together, so as always, thanks to you all.
If there was one topic I could mention, I would definitely say one of the things closest to me would be mental health. Everyone struggles and everyone is human. I’m definitely a strong believer in empathy as a driving force to help us be there for our family and friends, and I try to practice that every day. Be there for your mates and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, or accept help when you need it.
Where can we check out more of your art?
'I’m absolutely stoked to be working with Yuki on this series. I’ve been a long time admirer of their ethos and love the values the team live and work by.'
- Alex Reid -