Kat Charles - Illustrator/ Photographer

What do you love about surfing?
Everything. Where do I start? The ocean is my favourite place to be so surfing is just playing in it. I ride lots of different crafts, singos, quads, logs and I bodysurf a lot. Surfing gives me stoke, washes away pointless worries and gives me fresh inspiration. It also distracts me because I'm my own boss. It can take up a lot of work hours but I don't mind....

What is your favourite surf spot?
Tough one. Lakey peak is my favourite playground but it would have to be Red Bluff in North West Oz. Im heading there for 6 weeks over winter I cant wait!!! Desert, pure clean barrels, isolation, take your own supplies, eat from the sea.... did I mention barrels? Goofy heaven.

What are you most proud of?
I'm proud of my mum, she's a strong woman who has raised me and my brother and sister, battled cancer and won. Now she works with special needs kids and young single mums. She is so wise and always gives me endless love, inspiration and advice.

What is your favourite surf travel destination?
Morocco holds a special place in my heart. I lived there for 6 months and it really gave me so much, the righthand point breaks are insane and the culture is beautiful. I had the privilege of living and travelling the country with locals and legendary strangers. That was 7 years ago so I imagine a lot has changed since. But anywhere with good consistant waves (I prefer lefts) Sunshine, good food and good culture. Peru and Chile are next.

What sort of education have you had?
I had one of the best art teachers ever in high school, he wore leather pants to school everyday! He taught me how to screen print and I would do it in my lunch break at school. He also gave me photoshop when I was 15 and told me it would change my life. And it did. I've never studied photography and when I decided to study graphic design the Liberal government came in and changed the school fees drastically... to the point I sadly couldnt afford it. So I decided to teach myself. I also studied a degree in Surf Science and Technology which taught me so much! I learnt how to read the weather, the waves, tides, beaches with technical skills, I learnt how to shape and glass boards, fins and leg ropes, organise surfing contests and events, analyse surfing skills to teach, judge, train and improve body mechanics. I learnt a lot about the surf industry, import, export as well as a range of contemporary issues and conservation strategies. It was a quality education and I treasure the knowledge.

What was your very first job?
In a surf shop when I was 14. I used to grip skate decks and make setups and sell surfboards and bodyboards. I wasn't into the clothes side of things but later in life I got really into visual merchandising and buying, that was fun! so much free stuff!

What inspired you to follow this path in your career?
I have a few inspiring people to thank for my chosen path;
Ozzie Wright, I've looked up to him since I was young, he made rad art, surfed and did whatever he wanted. He was who he was and he didn't care what others thought of him, that encouraged me to make art and surf and be the weirdo that I am...
Maria Nilsson and Diva Cory, they started a rad art/graphic design studio. I joined them after 6 months living on a boat in the Kimberleys. Those girls know how to work for themselves, surf, make art and have heaps of fun! I love them.
Nick Bowen- Sant - he is a good friend of mine who has been working for himself for the last 10 years as a freelance graphic artist. He makes the most insane gig posters and incredible art. We always sneek an epic solo surfs together even though he is a hermit. He is building a boat to sail away for the next 10 years. Rad Human.

What is your creative process from idea to end product?
Man dont ask me, I'm a gemini and I've never studied! hahaha
With fine art, illustration and design I just start drawing straight out in a big clean A1 book with mainly fineliners. I take photos of my drawings cos I don't have a scanner, I import them then add colour etc. I rework them if necessary but I try to hit the mark first up otherwise work builds up too quick if i gin around too much. With board art and murals its never planned. Ever. Usually with only 24 hours to spare. With photos I always create a story then play with models its easy.

Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve done?
It would have to be my famous 6'6 stubby. Its been in 3 art exhibitions and is now in the Surf World Museum in Torquay. Ed Sinnot in Byron Bay gave me the board in return for some decal designs I did for his new board models. I painted it and did fabric inlays. I only got to surf it once in the last 4 years and I haven't seen in well over a year! hahaha

What do you like most about your job?
I get to draw, paint and take photos for a living.. what a dream! Its taken me a long time to get to this point but its been an amazing journey. Creative freedom with rad clients, surf time, inspiration, learning and growing.

To what level does Surfing influence your work?
Surfing gives me space from work, clears my mind and inspires me at the same time. It connects me back with nature and separates megapixels from reality. My illustrations are very ocean inspired and surf culture based so while im surfing or free diving I get to see it all and not just on a computer screen. Its all real and its all pretty.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
10 years? thats very future thinking.... I would love to have a self sufficient farm close to epic waves. Make heaps of art, movies, keep freelancing, take up some woodwork and do surf boat trips around the world and take photos of them. I really want to write a book so that is definitely on the cards. The wheels are already in motion. Im also going to get a Catamaran and return to the Kimberley's to explore the Buccaneer archipelago and all the islands throughout indonesia and beyond. By myself or with my dog.

Where can we find you online? 

Web: www.cargocollective.com/katscreativespace 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/katcharlesphotography

Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on May 1, 2014
Categories: Interviews