At Bailey Nelson, we’re pretty big fans of individuality - so who better to bring our Newtown store to life than Elliott Routledge, a contemporary artist doing big things (literally, check out his murals) and local of Sydney’s inner-west. He's given our recently opened Newtown store a dose of inner-west personality, brightening the walls with one of his signature murals, and brightening your day when you drop by the store.
You might know Elliott better as Numskull, the moniker that he usually adopts when practicing art. His expert knowledge of colour theory is clear in his strikingly bold yet balanced pieces, so it’s no surprise that his work has shown in galleries and on walls in London, Vienna, New York, Melbourne, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and all throughout Australia. We managed to pin him down between travels to chat about his artistic feats, favourite spots in the inner west and inspiration behind his Bailey Nelson Newtown mural.
I was born in Tokyo, have lived in Sydney for most of my life, and have travelled with my art to many places around the world. Over the years, my practice has changed drastically at maybe four solid points. My interest in colour and techniques has evolved over time based on my personal interests and experiences. I make it a goal to try many different techniques and directions with my work, in the hope that i always evolve.
You work across a bunch of different mediums, including canvas paintings, illustration and sculpture. What is it that draws you to creating large-scale murals?
I try and keep a balance between them all, but the large murals get a lot of attention. There’s something special about creating a painting the size of a building. It changes the intention and really opens it up to a broader audience and a different kind of user interaction. I really enjoy working outdoors too. It’s fun to hear the reactions…
What are the themes, ideas or visual inspirations that you’ve drawn on for your Bailey Nelson Newtown store mural? Do these themes span across all your work?
With the Newtown mural I was given the unusual canvas of both the walls and the ceilings. I tried to create a piece that took over the entire space and could potentially create an optical illusion. The ceiling has lots of bumps, pipes, architectural features and bumps, that my aim was to make these things disappear. This is often an approach I take to my murals. The intention to transform the wall into something else.
It’s no easy feat turning your art into a viable career, and you’ve explored so many different avenues from brand collaborations to global exhibitions. What is the key to maintaining your creative spark while ensuring that you’re being motivated, efficient and professional?
I like to surround myself with other creative, positive people. This helps me to ensure I’m being motivated and focussed on what i’m doing. It takes some self control in being able to keep things going all the time. It doesn’t happen without lots of hard work.
Your art has adorned walls and spaces all over the world from New Zealand to Europe to the USA. What has been the standout city to create art in so far?
Each place has it’s own standout features and stories. I reallllly enjoyed Vienna in 2014 and had a lot of fun painting in Jersey City a while back. Lots of derelict abandoned buildings to play in! If i’m not in a city for any purpose, then I like to explore and let the experiences and people I meet guide the way.
As someone hailing from the inner west, do you have any favourite spots in Newtown?
Unfortunately I don’t get a heap of time to explore in my own city anymore, but do have little spots I frequent if I get the spare moments! Camperdown Park is good to hang out with friends, or play with the kids. Courthouse is my favourite pub, and Great Aunty’s for viet food when i’m out getting materials at Art on King, on King Street.
Who are some of your favourite local artists?