Heather Brown - Artist
When and where did you start surfing?
I started surfing in Waikiki about 16 years ago or so. I had always loved watching the ocean, surfers, doing a lot of diving (I even worked as a boat captain and dive master for years) but for some reason never pulled the trigger in my earlier years in Southern California. As soon as I moved to Hawai'i though and saw the beautiful warm waters of Waikiki with the oat beautiful little waves rolling in, I could not resist anymore and dropped everything to try and surf everyday!
What is it that you love about surfing and the ocean?
Can I say EVERYTHING? ha ha. I love the peaceful tranquility on small windless mornings, I love to watch the beast come out with high surf warnings, and I love all the beauty that nature provides below the surface. My husband, thecaptainsurfssurfart.blogspot.com.au, often laughs at me because I can spend hours sitting in a lineup and barely even paddle for waves because I get so enamored watching the sea surface and how the light and moods of the day get reflected, watching the sunset over Kaena Point or the fish and whales playing joyfully. The experience of being in the ocean is what I love most.
Do you have a session that stands out as your most memorable?
Every single one! ha ha I am a pretty mellow surfer, I like smaller waves for the most part so I don;t have that "extreme" stand out. But.... we got married in the Maldives about 4 years ago now and we were there for 21 days, we had really fun surf in the chest to overhead range for 20 of those days!! The one day with no surf was our actual wedding day (which was kind of good...i guess) but the next morning we awoke to a brand new swell as first day newlyweds and we surfed for hours alone in perfect 3-4 foot lefts!
When did you first start getting into art?
I have always been into creating art from a very young age. I come from a family chock full of professional artists so when I was little, we did not get to watch tv or anything like that and I was not really into sports, so I spent most of my free time daydreaming then making art from those dreams.
Is it something that you had always wanted to pursue as a career?
It took me quite a while to take the plunge. I guess I dod not want to fail and herds that "no one ever makes a living off of art..." etc so I worked a lot of random jobs until about the late 90's when I decided that I was going to go back to school at University of Hawai'i and focus on art. I went throughout the Bachelors of Fine Arts Program and in my last few months at school I started to devise a plan on how I would try to make this work. I worked 2-3 jobs and saved enough money to get me throughout for 3-5 months. I then left my other jobs and concentrated 100% on making art my new career. I was blessed to meet some great people who admired my style and soon after I created the art for Jack Johnson's Kokua Festival and The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing in the same year! With those two accomplishments, I was totally fired up to just keep going and for years (up to now) I still paint about 10+ hours a day about 6+ days a week when I am not touring.
What kind of things inspire your creations?
Hawai'i is my main muse for sure! The flowers and fauna, the beautiful ocean in all its moods, the people and the lifestyle. I am also totally inspired by animals (one of the jobs I wanted when I was younger was to be a vet, because i have always LOVED animals and wildlife so much) I paint a lot of birds, especially funny ones and that always makes me happy!
If you could explain your style in 3 words, what would they be?
Happy Love Aloha
Do you have a piece that stands out as your favourite? Or holds a particular sentimental value to you?
I do! Through the years, I have definitely gone through pieces that are my "favorites" at times, etc. But I would have to say that 2 pieces in particular hold that accolade for the long term (they are actually the only 2 originals of mine that we have in our home) one is called "Ku'uipo's" which I painted for my now husband when we had started dating. This one holds very high sentimental value to booth of us. The second is a piece called "High Tide" this piece was not very commercially accepted when I released it as reproductions, but it really is my favorite. It has hung in our bedroom for about 6 years now and we still love to look at it every day. I also love running into the people that did buy the limited edition pieces (now sold out) and hearing their take on the piece, its like we are a little tribe that love this certain piece!
Your work has received a number of accolades, what is your proudest moment in relation to your career?
Thank you very much! That's a really hard one as when Jack Johnson first asked me to paint for the Kokua Festival and the Kokua foundation and even paint their personal christmas cards, that was HUGE in my life and still is! Doing artwork for the Triple Crown was also such a great feeling. It has also been really nice to be able to watch our small little company go from just me as an artist, to me and my husband working together doing absolutely everything for our business to now supporting over 15 families directly through our company and giving people a nice working atmosphere surrounded by art! I feel that in my ongoing life as an artist, the best accolade is seeing people with a big smile when they find my art and connect with it. That is why I made art when I was a kid and that is what still motivates me on a daily basis.
You are also involved with a lot of charities/ non-profits. What organisations/ causes do you work with, and what does your role involve?
Yes! This is something that I vowed to do from the first day of planning to be an artist. Giving back is the reason to be successful in my opinion, unfortunately through the years and my schedule, I can not be "on the front line" as much with the organizations and causes I work with but now it is more financial donations, art donations for auctions, etc and helping to bring awareness to the causes and charities I work with. We are currently working with HUGS, The Kokua Foundation, SeaThos Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Hawaii Humane Society, K9 Defender Program, Waves for Water, The Wyland Foundation and the UCSD Moores Cancer Research Center. Some we donate 15% of sales to on a monthly basis, some I create art for, some we donate art for events, etc. We have been really lucky in our careers as artists to find success and I think it is only right to share some of our success with others and the causes we care most for.
What is it that you love about your job?
That I never us the word "job" to explain what I do to people!
Do you have any advice for any aspiring surf artists out there?
I hate to give advice as I feel I still am open and taking as much as I can! If you pressed me to answer, I would have to say go deep inside to find your own unique style and create art everyday!! Mahalo Nui Loa for thinking of me and my art for this interview!
Where can we find you online?
Posted by: Matthew Ryan, on October 9, 2014
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