South Australian artist Eddie White Jr. started popping up on my Instagram feed, when a fellow Instagram user shared his artwork that he had done to create a custom logo for their brand. His style of artwork was the kind that I had never seen before, but I felt that I was able to resonate with the visuals and the ideas that are showcased through sentence-long blurbs (scarily) strongly.
After nearly 6 or so months of following his work and falling in love with drawing after drawing, I knew that I wanted…née, needed to get something custom-drawn by him.
Starting off with supporting and sharing his work across my Instagram platform, we both started a conversation. The conversations grew in frequency and I eventually professed to Eddie about how much I wanted him to create a custom piece that I would eventually be getting tattooed somewhere on my body.
The idea: representing the progression of my character (my personality!) from being brought up in a conservative country with deep traditional values to someone who took on a chance on living life to the absolute fullest, even if it meant stepping out of her comfort zone.
The result: The drawing below.
I would have never imagined being able to replicate what I was sensing and feeling inside my mind, my body, and my soul, and yet, Eddie was able to effortlessly channel those very feelings and bring to life what is literally an accurate representation of who I have become, as a human being.
A significant component of Eddie’s artwork encompasses a beautiful balance of playfulness and sincerity, which he is able to eloquently demonstrate through his colored works. Now, the celebrated local artist will be gracing us Adelaidians with a fantastic opportunity of marveling at some of his best artworks that are inspired by The Beatles and will be available on display (and for purchase) at his exhibition – Strawberry Submarine -which will run from August 16 – September 16, as part of the annual SALA Festival.
In anticipation of his upcoming exhibition, I was fortunate enough to tap into Eddie’s mind and learn a bit more about his journey as an artist – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Eddie?
Eddie: Sure. I would describe myself as an artist or creative addict in some way or another, as long as I can remember. My background is in animation, as a co-founder of The People’s Republic Of Animation (where I directed/co-directed shorts such as the Oscar shortlisted and AACTA winning The Cat Piano and others) and after that, I branched out into live action filmmaking and illustration. Before those, I studied drama performance at Flinders University for 4 years, whilst also making animations outside of my contact hours. So, I’ve managed to squeeze a bunch of creative things into different times in my life, which has made sure there’s always something new and different to explore. It feels like they all feed into one another in different ways. I would also say I’m very passionate, a bit* (*a lot) of a dreamer and a romantic (awww) too.
Tema: What inspired you to break into the art scene?
Eddie: As I’ve been drawing since I was a child, I guess in some way, I always felt involved in art in some way shape or form. But in 2016, I really started doing illustrations more for my own enjoyment and also for commissioned pieces (as opposed to for specific projects in my animation studio days). In 2017, I was invited by The Mill to put on an exhibition of my work and that was to be my first ever one. It was called PUNK KID and was a bit of a cross-section of drawings that I had been working on over that year or so. Instagram (and also Facebook) has really been great for me as an artist, as it is for many others, to share my work with the world and find my ‘tribe’ all over the world. I think the audience for art now encompasses so many people, which is great! It should be something anyone of any background or location in the world can enjoy daily.
Tema: How do you decide to come up with your designs and artwork?
Eddie: It’s a bit of a multi-headed creature, I find. Sometimes, it’s based on a feeling or experience I’ve had. A feeling that might be trapped inside and hard to express. I’ll be laying in bed or in the shower and think ‘how could I capture that feeling or moment in an interesting visual way?’. Then, if something amuses me or moves me, I think there’s a good chance it’ll have the same effect on some other humans out there. I also sometimes do just lose stream of conscious drawings on paper and images will just bubble up from the sub-conscious mind that I don’t think too much more about or try to censor them in any way. I like to feel truly wild and free when I put pen to paper. I like to feel them more than think about them too much before sharing. I also like doing ‘visual binges’ on Instagram, watching films, looking through art or other books with lots of photos or drawings. This will often trigger some sort of idea. Also listening to music (especially the lyrics), travelling the world and reading about the lives and work of great artists and filmmakers is also incredibly motivating and inspiring. The amazing thing about ideas is that they can and do come at any time, often when you’re not thinking (like during or after sex! yep) or when you’re half asleep or walking in the rain or at an airport or something like that.
Tema: What do you hope for your followers to experience when looking at / experiencing your unique style of artwork?
Eddie: I guess my hope is that I get an immediate emotional response of some kind. Whether it’s a feeling of them being able to relate to the feeling or concept personally or just something that will make them smile or laugh in amusement or even think about a certain feeling or experience in a different way, I would feel like it’s served its purpose. I think people are always searching for visual reminders that they’re not alone in whatever they’re feeling and that being human is a strange and overwhelming ride at times! So, to approach that with a sense of playfulness or surreal-ness is quite therapeutic for both myself and them too, hopefully.
Tema: Is there a pattern or theme in particular that resonates strongly in your artwork?
Eddie: I think there are some elements that are always there and then others than maybe come and go as my tastes or feelings or inspirations expand and evolve. I’ve been intrigued by the human anatomy since I was very young, so that is one I often gain inspiration from. Emotions to do with love, sex, desire and heartbreak are also a rich well to draw from and are so universal that somewhere, someone will be feeling or will have felt the very feeling that I am portraying with words and visuals. I do love drawing women (as you may get when you follow me on Instagram) as they are intriguing and complex and fascinating to me in their minds, emotions and their physical forms, as I am not one myself. I feel like by capturing things women I know have done or said, it’s like I’m learning something from a different angle, but that is just as relatable. I also have a thing for insects, strange animals and portraying food in interesting and unexpected ways.
Tema: What do you think is so appealing / attractive about your artwork that draws people to feel and relate with your art so strongly?
Eddie: I’ve asked this before on Instagram as I was curious and I got some really great and insightful responses from my followers on there. I think the playfulness is a strong point for people. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. In a way, I try to make the drawings like little pop songs. Little mini-stories that are like a peak inside someone’s heart or head. They can be sexy or cheeky, heartbreaking or melancholic, thought provoking or vivid. It just depends on what the main thing I want to communicate is. I draw everything by hand (no digital elements), often with a brush tip marker or fine line pen and I think in a world of clean and polished digital art and design, people still love to see a hand drawn line. It’s flawed like they are. It’s relatable to everyone as everyone can pick up a pen and write or draw (however simple), so it doesn’t feel like it’s miles away from them and I think this is why drawings will always be a popular visual medium to humans.
Tema: Are the stories that go with your art inspired by real life events – either that happened to yourself or to others? Is there a mix of fiction and non-fiction through your storytelling?
Eddie: Absolutely. It’s a real blend of real feelings and things that I’ve thought of or experienced or know of others who have and then the completely fictional and surreal and fantastical. I think the part where these two sides meet is where I’m most interested in. Reality to me can be as strange as the strangest tale so it’s often not so easy to identify what’s real and what’s fantasy and I think that’s an endlessly amusing relationship.
Tema: Who are some artists that you look up to, for inspiration / motivation purposes?
Eddie: I once saw a Jean-Michel Basquiat art exhibition and in it there was a wall, covered with plain white dinner plates on each of which he had simply captured in black paint, a different figure who had inspired his work in some way, along with their name. This really resonated with me. I feel like I have a huge stack of plates and each day or week or month. I’ll eat from these different plates artistically and draw some sort of inspiration or motivation from. They can be artists, directors, singers, writers, actors or other figures throughout history or current times. One week it might be Kurt Cobain, Orson Welles, Lewis Caroll, and Rene Magritte and the next it might be Frida Kahlo, Hayao Miyazaki, Brigitte Bardot, and David Attenborough. I like to be a bit of a sponge. Soak up all the influences and then by the time they are squeezed out of my brain, they feel unique to me hopefully and not derivative of just one influence or style or art form. My all-time creative heroes though would be Pablo Picasso, Federico Fellini and of course, John Lennon. His work is fearless and tender in the same breath. Which leads well into the next question.
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about your upcoming exhibition Strawberry Submarine?
- How did you decide on the name of the exhibition?
Eddie: As the exhibition was all about art inspired by my love of The Beatles, I wanted a catchy title that encapsulated the Beatles in a visually sounding way. So I took two elements of iconic Beatle-y things in the strawberry from strawberry fields and the submarine from Yellow Submarine and it sounded cool together. It had a fun, delicious, and adventurous feel. I did Google the hell out of it and was surprised it hadn’t been used before.
- What can people expect from your exhibition?
It is a colourful and dream-like, visual journey through The Beatles work and lives in my hand-drawn style. Some pieces are directly inspired by certain lyrics or songs, others by moments in the band members lives or loves. Then there’s some that are a bit more conceptual and have my own particular touch to them subject-wise I think. I have tried to make sure each one is filled with love and passion and imagination and relatableness as these elements are what make The Beatles music so timeless. I didn’t want things to be too literal or just a drawing based on a photo that you could already see if you googled them.STRAWBERRY SUBMARINE – Art Inspired By The Beatles promo from EDDIE WHITE on Vimeo.
- How did you score the venue for your exhibition?
I was on the hunt for the ‘right’ space as I thought that would really add to the subject matter. I approached The Adelaide Town Hall, as The Beatles had famously stood on the balcony to greet a third of the population of Adelaide who gathered for them in 1964 (their biggest crowd ever!) but there wasn’t a space I could use there. So, I searched the SALA venues list and came across the Adina Treasury Tunnels and was hooked in by the rustic almost ‘Cavern Club’ vibes. I got in touch and luckily, it was available. The really fortuitous moment happened when I searched online about the history of the space and found out that The Beatles are said to have used those very tunnels to escape the huge crowds gathered for them at the Town Hall. As you can imagine, my mind was completely blown. I had to read it three or four times to make sure I didn’t imagine it. It feels like an almost magical connection, which adds to the story of the show in a cool way.
- How many artworks will be on display and will they be available for purchase?
Eddie: There’ll be over 40 framed original pieces (both A4 and A3 sized) that are the culmination of around six months worth of drawing. Only four of the pieces have been seen publicly (on my Instagram account), but all of the rest are waiting to be seen for the first time, which is really exciting for me! They’ll all be for sale, so if you feel like it could be your thing, I’d definitely make it along, especially to opening night, so you can get in early and snag your favourite.
What? Strawberry Submarine – a Beatles-inspired art exhibition
Where? Adina Adelaide Treasury Tunnels
When? August 16 – September 16
All artworks © Eddie White Jr.