Mitch Revs - Artist
Creative influencer Mitch Revs talks producing original art, understanding life and how focus and passion lead to creative success. This humble and hardworking artist from the surf-heart of Newcastle has his paint-stained fingers firmly on his generations restless pulse. From mind-blowing murals that swallow you up into his often bizarre creative world, to his intricate, dizzyingly busy, hand drawn illustrations that keep you transfixed for hours, Mitch knows how to use his talents to his advantage. Depicting his love for his city, appetite for the ocean and creation of imagined characters, Mitch’s diverse portolio spans production of art for brands, illustrations for a Mental Health Education inspired childrens book and most recently the cover of a respected newspaper, the Herald. For a life filled with colour, enviable creativity and most importantly love of his work … dive in!
Where are you from? And where do you call home now?
I was born right here in Newcastle, NSW, where I still live today. I have lived all over Australia but always seem to come crawling back home.
It must be pretty awesome to live by your art. What inspired you to take this jump to career creative? Did you always know that it was what you wanted to do or did you just start creating and the rest followed?
Oh it’s the best! I always wanted to make my own path in life. I guess I just started creating and different opportunities kept popping up. It was around the birth of Instagram that I began painting. I didn’t really have any creative direction at that point, I was just making art. I was able to get a gauge of what people were interested in via social media and focus on a particular style.
What did you do before your career as an artist?
Ummm I worked for a company called Allambi, they are a Youth Service organisation who focus on providing a better life for disadvantaged children. I learnt a lot about myself over the 24 months I worked there. I was only 19 or something at the time but to see what these kids went through and the struggles they faced day in-day out, it made me appreciate what I had. It became a daily reminder for the period of time I worked there & I live by it still to this day. That job inspired me to get out there and make a life of my own that was true to me and Art was really the only thing that I was passionate about.
What is it about surfing that made it the central theme of your art? Particularly the Newcastle surf scene?
Surfing has been my life since primary school. I grew up here in Newcastle only a few blocks from the beach. This is how I met all my friends and probably the reason why I have never spent too much time away from here. When Art became more of a job for me and I started to build my web store, I needed a theme, something that I liked, and that people would want to invest in. The ocean was all I really knew at that time so It just felt right. Generally, if someone sees something that reminds them of home, they fall in love with it, so focusing my art on local landmarks and beaches was what I would focus on, if I was going to try and make a living out of it.
What does art/being creative mean to you?
I feel very lucky to be able to make a living from my art. Especially in an industry that is flooded with talent. Social media has given millennials the opportunity to showcase creativity on the daily. It’s very inspiring for me. I’m proud to be a part of the movement. To see this new wave of creatives making a living from something they just so happened to dream up the night before is pretty cool.
What’s the best thing about what you do, and what is the most challenging?
Being able to make art for a living is insane. Doesn’t make sense, although I’m not going to question it. I find it hard to make time for my own personal projects. I guess it comes down to time management. If I work on jobs for my clients during the day, jump in the ocean, do some fitness related shit, grab a coffee with a friend, try and have a healthy relationship, it doesn’t leave much time to make my own art. Let’s just say, I’m working on it.
You are well known for your large, colourful, striking murals … this is a challenging creative discipline in itself. How did it all start, and do you remember your first one?
My First Mural was the reason my art career took off. Its wasn’t great, but the timing was right. I lived in a warehouse at the top of town here in Newcastle with a bunch of my good mates. There was a decent size wall that was situated in the middle of a halfpipe we built in the main “party” area. It was a blank plywood wall for months. Someone brought up the idea that I should paint something to brighten the place up a bit, and that’s what I did. It was these two weird blue alien heads with crowns, they were on the moon and there were UFO’s shooting laser beams at them, so fricken weird!!! Anyway, long story short, a mate of mine worked for Hurley and it was at a time when they had just introduced the H-Space Artist Team (a young group of creatives). He got me on board with them to make a few different Tee designs and it snowballed from there.
You have been involved in some really interesting projects like working with Converse, Pretty Shady, and Summer Bright. How did you end up connecting with brands like these?
I ask myself the same question. I think it all comes down to the amount of time you put into your craft. These brands have people that are paid to specifically keep an eye out for influencers to collaborate with. Unless you are doing something to stand out from the rest, it’s pretty easy to get swept under the rug. I’ve always made a habit of putting in the hours, not for the purpose of being in the eye of these brands, but to continue to improve as an artist.
You also co-created the childrens book “Stand Up, Stand Out” with Joel Pilgrim of WOW Foundation, aiming to address the issues of mental health at a young age in a colourful and engaging way. As far as projects go, this is a pretty inspirational one. How did this come about and tell us about the process for creating the awesome character visuals and the world that they existed in.
This would have to be one of the more meaningful projects I’ve had the chance to work on. I grew up with Joel, we are both innovative people, constantly looking for new ideas and topics to dive into. Joel hadn’t mentioned much about the book to me, he just rocked up to my place one day with the story. I had a read, full goosebump moment! I couldn’t say no. Mental Health is something that affects so many close to us, it’s a topic that shouldn’t go unnoticed, and we wanted to help raise that topic. Teaching children about mental health from an early age is so important & we wanted the book to be a tool for parents to be able to explain what mental health is, so that if it is something that the child is to experience down the track, they may be able to answer questions before it becomes an issue. I knew how much work would be involved but it had to be done. I illustrated the 36 page kids book over a 4 month period and then we had two VERY successful exhibitions to showcase it and the story. We are in the process of pulling together book two at the moment, I just can’t seem to find a spare 4 months to make it happen haha! You can read about and purchase it here - www.standupstandout.com.au
What are you working on at the moment? And who would you love to work with in the future?
I’m currently working on my second Solo Exhibition which will be held in late April here in Newcastle. Very exciting for me, it’s been 2 years since my last show and I’ve got lots to share this time around. There isn’t anyone in particular that I’d like to work with. I just love collaborating with Influencers and brands of all kinds.
With so many materials to choose from, what your favourite medium?
Nothing beats making a mess and hand painting a big Wall or canvas, mixing colours, experimenting with different techniques, there is more opportunity to let the brush do the work. Don’t get me wrong I love digital illustration but I think I like not being able to click “undo” when you fuck up. Fix it, deal with it!
What advise would you give artists looking to take their creative field to the next level, towards a professional career?
I get asked this question 10+ times a day from people looking to make a career from art. It all comes down to passion and motivation. If you try to make a start as a creative and your main motivator is money, don’t bother. Be confident in your craft, love everything about it, live & breathe it. It’s a gift to be able to make a living from art, go into it with no expectations. Just enjoy the journey and the rest will follow.
When/where/who/how did your passion for surfing start?
I started surfing toward the end of primary school. My Dad had always surfed so it was inevitable that I would do the same. I learnt to surf up and down the coast, which I must admit was perfect. There is a good balance of sand and reef breaks so it gave me a chance to learn in all conditions.
What does surfing mean to you, and how has it changed your life?
Surfing gave me the friends I have today, it taught me about the ocean and gave me direction with my art.
Biggest surf mission/most hardcore surf spot you visited?
Ahhh look I’m not really a slab/big wave surfer, but this one time me and a buddy of mine rode scooters from Kuta, Bali to Dessert point. Few ferry rides over night with our leg ropes literally attached to our ankles and back packs strapped to our chest. Missions like these you never forget & at the same time never want to re-live. Thank god the waves were cooking.
What are you known for?
Being bald / Kind of German looking & my Art
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of myself for making the decision to not go to University and do what I thought I should be doing as opposed to what I wanted to do. If I had of listened to my career advisers and the older generation of makers I would have ended up doing shit I hated. Listen to your gut, always.
Oreo Mcflurrys kill me!
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
The harder you work, the luckier you get!
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
What are you most grateful for?
I’m very grateful to have been brought up in Australia by the coast.
I love …
... my coffee cold
... getting into trouble
I wish …
... I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair
... to live
Where can we find you online?
Posted by: Emma Gibbons, on February 28, 2018
Jarra Campbell - the Bondi Alchemist
Greg Gordon - Owner of CR Surf
Shayne Nienaber - Surf Photographer
Alexa Hohenberg - Owner of Still Stoked
Christine Deveney - TapaReef Owner & Creator
Russell Ord - Surf Photographer
Richard Kotch - Surf Photographer
Mick McComas - Red Island Travel Owner
Brian McDonald - Matanivusi Beach Eco Resort Owner
Alena Ehrenbold - Surf Film Director & Freesurfer