Q&A: Artist Karlee Mackie

With a summer art exhibit around the bend, Karlee Mackie chats with AR4T gallery owner Dana Nichols for FindCream.

Insider // Dana Nichols // 05/07/12
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By Kuni Takanami

Karlee Mackie

By Kuni Takanami

Art by Karlee Mackie

By Kuni Takanami

Karlee Mackie, courtesy of Rush TV

Karlee’s art first entered our gallery doors last August and since then, every piece of hers we've shown has left the gallery with a buyer. Not only does Karlee’s art have a way of magically communicating to all kinds of people, but she’s that kind of person, too. Maybe it comes with having travelled the world as a surfer having been born with an intuitive nature to seek beauty in everything, or some combination of both. Either way, Karlee has earned her spot as one of the most promising female artists we know.

Mackie began painting her friends’ surfboards while on the surfing world qualifying series tour, and an art career was born. Since then, she's hosted MTV Sports and has appeared in a full roster of movies like You Remind Me of Me and Save the Big Fat Whales.

With art shows and projects lined up well into the next year, Karlee is so busy painting her signature colorful portrayals of fantasy on canvases and murals around London that she would barely have time for surfing , regardless if she still lived by the beach! Here’s what this Australian surfer-turned-artist-but-still-a-surfer is inspired by, why she’s happy to have traded her Lennox Head home for London digs -- at least for a little while – and what she has in store for her California art show this summer.

With art shows and projects lined up well into next year, we sat down with the Australian surfer-turned-artist to talk trading in her Lennox Head home for a London pad and what's in store for her California art show this July:

What are you planning for your first solo art show at AR4T?
My vision for the show this summer is bright feminine images and written words of emotions that explore the creation that comes from destruction. The show will be called Depths & Beyond. After breaking up with my boyfriend, so much is already happening and I’ve been using the emotions to fuel life.

Is there anything else that has been inspiring your work lately?
Lately I’ve been really inspired by symbols and how we’re influenced by them so much.

Even though you’re from Australia, you have a real connection with California. What do you love about it?
I always have fun in California and I’ve been going there since I was 18. My favorite thing to do is ride my bike around and enjoy another environment that’s super cool, fun and friendly. I love Trestles and I have some great mates there.

What made you pack up everything and move to London?
I have a beautiful circle of friends in London and I enjoy living there. It's a magical place and the scenery is incredible. I love the history and exploring old castles that were built in the 1300's.
I see living here as a short while, so I want to embrace it before I’m back with the sand between my toes and the salt in my hair.

What has been the biggest challenge of adjusting to life away from the beach?
I was having dreams of eating sand and rolling around in it, like those dreams you have when you’re skulling water after a big night out! (laughs) Which is pretty extreme. But the cleanse you get when you dive in the ocean, with the salt, and the sun, is like a drug for me.

What are you planning to do the rest of the year?
In addition to my art show in California in July I have a lot of opportunities that are still up in the air so I can’t really talk about them yet, but it’s really exciting! I have a headphone and T-shirt coming out in August with Aerial7.

Photos of Karlee courtesy of Kuni Takanami

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