Art Attack: An interview with Neryl Walker

Melbourne-based artist, illustrator and designer Neryl Walker is all about girls! girls! girls!

Neryl Walker has women on the brain! Whether it’s sultry semi-nude ladies draped languidly over sofas, beehived beauties rocking out on guitars, or buxom broads dressed in pussycat outfits – she draws them all!

Hers is a distinctive style which recalls commercial illustration from decades past but has a dash of rock’n’ roll as well as a B-grade retro bent.

Her work reminds me a little of Shag– a contemporary of hers. Both artists have exhibited at Melbourne-based Outre Gallery, the home of contemporary lowbrow, pop surrealism, and underground art.

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The Australian artist makes no secret of her love of mid-century pop culture–which seeps into her artwork in the form of vintage pyrex dishes, anodised atomic planters and kitsch Vladimir Tretchikoff prints.
Her home, which she shares with her art director husband Tim and ‘mermaid’ daughter Ivy, is packed with vintage curios and flea market finds including mid-century modern furniture, kitsch prints, vintage graphics and typography, packaging, signage, girlie magazines, records, books and vintage toys.

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When she’s not doodling away in her sketchbook, she plays guitar in a 60s garage rock’n’roll band or you can find her at the vintage markets hunting down her latest score.

Want to find out more about Neryl? Read on….

 

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You’re an artist, illustrator and graphic designer – which came first?

I think ‘artist’ encompasses all of my creative outlets. I studied Graphic Design at Curtin University WA with a minor in Illustration so I guess technically that came first.

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Were you always creative as a youngster?

Yes I was always drawing. I grew up in a small country town so having a good imagination was key!

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How would you describe your particular aesthetic?

Definitely vintage and mid-century inspired.

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What is it about retro ladies that makes you love to draw them?

I just love 50, 60s, and 70s style, the fashion, big hair, the music, the dancing. What’s not to love!

 

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What are your creative inspirations and influences?

A myriad of art and music. My daughter. My partner and I are also big collectors. I love things that have had a life already and a story to tell.

 

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What are some of your career highlights so far?

Illustrating Bare Escentual’s ‘Buxom Lips’ lip gloss range. I created over 100 different girls for 100 different shades of lip gloss. Dream job.

I’m also collaborating on a new project called Modnlovr with my partner Tim Haynes. We’ve designed a mid century inspired range of planters. We’re launching in the United States soon so I’m super excited about that.

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Tell me about the process involved in making each of your artworks…

It always starts with sketching an idea on paper. I usually scan this and work on colour in Photoshop. Then I am back to hand drawing a more finished version to scan back in to the computer to rework, adding texture and layers.

 

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What materials do you use? And how long does each work take to finish?

My illustration work is hand drawn and/or painted, then scanned and built in Photoshop. The length of time is normally dictated by a deadline. My artwork for group and solo shows is usually hand painted acrylic on paper, canvas or plywood.

It really does depend the size and detail as to how long each artwork takes. Some works fall easily into place while others are still sitting half baked in my studio.

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What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Working for myself and setting my own hours. That said, I probably work more than a regular ‘9 to 5 er’ but I’d say that is the case for most people running their own business.

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How has your techniques/ subject matter evolved over time?

The computer has really changed the way I work. When I first started illustration I would mail the original painted artwork to the client which they would then scan at their end. To be able to scan my own work, change colours on screen and email an illustration was a game changer.

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You play in a garage rock band, can you tell us more about that?

I’ve played guitar and bass in a couple of rock ’n roll bands, mostly for kicks. I see it as another creative outlet.

It came out of a DIY situation where a group friends were hanging out and learning to play, literally in the garage.

I love the creative collaboration of rehearsing with a group as opposed to being an artist which is an often solitary pursuit.

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Who are some of your customers/ clients?
I have customers all over the world that buy my prints but the majority come from the USA and Australia. I am represented by Snyder New York in the USA and Jacky Winter in Australia, so most of my client work comes from those regions. My client list includes: Bare Escentuals, Seafolly, Angostura, Stella Artois, Chronicle Books, Hardie Grant, Bloom Cosmetics, and Ena Products.

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Where can people learn more about your work or purchase their own pieces?

Instagram: @nerylwalker

Modnlover Instagram: @modnlovr

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