Jimmy Wags is an artist and true creative; his work is bold, unique and inspiring. Jimmy also runs local workshops, many with fellow artist Tulli Stevens, that explore art in many different forms and using many different mediums. He is hoping to inspire kids, in particular, never to lose their creative spark!
Hey Jimmy. Tell us a little about how you came to be on the Coffs Coast?
I’m a Clarence Valley kid, sixth generation. I grew up on a farm near the river, moved to town in early adulthood, met a pretty girl and went on a work adventure with her to the Whitsundays.
We came home, married and had a little dude. My dad is a surfing farmer, so we were lucky enough to spend Sundays at Mullaway and Christmas at Woopi.
After returning home depressed after another cracking Christmas in the park at Woopi, my wife Kylie said, “We’ve got to move down here” … Eight years in Mullaway — and still loving it.
Where did your love of art begin?
I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember. I would draw my surroundings, birds, trees, etc., then like most artistic teens, found comics and drew my favourite characters.
I really liked how imagery can tell quite a story and evoke all kinds of emotions.
I was a very sporty kid — footy, running, swimming, surf, skate, motorbikes and horses, but also enjoyed the creative release and calm found in drawing and sculpting. I would dig out natural clay and make race cars, pull motors out of appliances and tinker around.
How best would you describe your unique art style?
Surf and lifestyle art with a little crazy … haha. I enjoy creating nice surf landscapes, amusing characters, caricature work, automatic drawing (which I have always just called pencil wandering), environmental statements, detailed pencil illustration and the odd artwork for band albums.
Then there’s the weird stuff, haha! I’ve heard the words, “There’s something wrong with your brain” more than once.
Most of my work was detailed illustration with pencil or pen; I never felt comfortable with a brush.
I discovered paint pens about 10 years ago and added vibrant colours to my work; I was hooked. Using paint pens is drawing with paint – it’s great.
My family and close friends encouraged me to take my art more seriously, and I soon landed my first paid art job, the Tango Juice Bar sign in Woolgoolga – it’s still there. It’s a surfer hanging ten on a banana, holding an ice cream catching the big drip, with an octopus chilling underwater with a juice.
Inspiration comes from unlikely places at times. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
In the beginning, surf art, comic books, skate art and band posters. Gonad Man in Waves mag was big in my youth, Jim Phillips skate art is off the hook, Drew Brophy’s paint pen work – incredible.
Spider-Man, Venom, Spawn comics – the usual ‘90s goodness.
Surrealist stuff – Dali, M.C. Escher.
The ocean is a big influence, although I am looking to expand my creative themes towards the outback.
The art process is different from artist to artist. What is your creative process?
I pencil wander for my really out there creative stuff. I start with a line and see where my subconscious takes me.
Some turn out gold; others go nowhere.
I’ve drawn waves forever; I pay homage to the big burning ball in the sky in most of my surf and landscape work.
I draw inspiration from nature and the environment, and as I’ve evolved, spiritual themes.
You don’t play by the rules with your canvases. What are some of the more interesting canvases you have left your mark on?
Paint pens have been my medium of choice for a while now, bringing vibrant colours to my creative world.
One of the cool things with paint pens is that they can be applied to most surfaces if prepared correctly – surfboards, skateboards, guitars and cars!
I recently painted an entire wagon with my art partner in crime, Tulli Stevens, so look out for the surf wagon cruising the streets soon.
I still enjoy pencil illustration; my dad’s always hinting that l should revisit charcoals.
I have recently had a go at polymer clay sculpture – that’s really cool stuff to muck about with.
Would you say having art as a creative outlet improves other aspects of your life?
“It is a release; it’s like something inside of you that needs to be let out, and if people like it, it’s a bonus” – Maynard James Keenan.
This is very true for myself and many artists, I presume. Lots of artists fear showing their work … Put it out there! Not everyone is going to like it, but who cares?
Art allows me to express myself in a way words would never achieve.
Automatic drawing-in particular allows you to bypass the analytical mind and tap into the subconscious, that wonderful quantum soup, much like meditation. Throw on some tunes, then just let the pencil flow from the left hand. This is where all the interesting stuff is.
You also share your art by teaching and running workshops. What has the response been from past workshops, and what are some of the upcoming events you have going on?
Feedback has been positive. I run little paint pen workshops around the place, holiday parks, halls and in schools. Tulli and I run one, two and three day workshops and accept Creative Kids vouchers. We do two-day skate deck workshops, three-day workshops where kids learn skills with three different mediums under guidance, although still allowing the kids’ creative spark to shine! Kids love it! We keep it fun; I talk a lot, and we run environmental themes throughout. We are always evolving our workshops to keep them exciting, educational and heaps of fun.
We host after-school creative sessions on Tuesdays at Mullaway Hall — all welcome.
We encourage kids to keep their creative spark in a world obsessed with screens.
Where can we find out more about your work?
See what I get up to on social media:
Instagram – @jimmywagsart
Facebook – Jimmy Wags Artist
Email enquiries to email@example.com