You may have spotted artworks by Simon “Sigh” Luxton dotted throughout the Port Macquarie region on various walls in CafÉs and restaurants, transforming what could have been a bland space into a vibrant and inviting work of art.Sigh’s newest venture is being this year’s FOTSUN artist, creating the artwork that will style this Summer’s festival …
Tell us about your days before you made the overseas journey from Tasmania to the Mainland….
Growing up in pre-internet Tasmania, I guess you could say I was sheltered from many forms of alternative culture until I became a teenager. I’ve been interested in illustrative art since I can remember, so as soon as I was able to, I was out of there making regular trips to Melbourne to go to art shows and catching bands in a feeble attempt to avoid growing up and life’s responsibilities.
I spent a few years in New Zealand, where I got my first paid art gig painting a mural in the local snowboard shop, and since then it’s been a constant hustle to try and make a living doing something I am passionate about.
I also fell in love with the hospitality industry, and that allowed me to take my skills and interests around the world, which birthed my obsession with coffee and cafés. Fast forward a few years later, and I find myself living in an art studio in Port Macquarie and haven’t looked back
What are your earliest memories of your interest in art culture?
I remember back to when I was only a wee little ratbag and if I wasn’t watching cartoons, I was drawing them on any surface, whether it be my bedroom walls, the back of my school books or every notebook and piece of paper that wasn’t already scribbled on (our entire living room was plastered with my pictures. I’m pretty sure my Mum has kept most of them, and she still cringes when I sell original artworks). I’ve always loved T-shirts, and I was mesmerised by surfing and skate culture, which was brought to my attention by my dad – who was a surfer from Sydney.
I loved the vibrant and bold yet simple designs sprawled across T-shirts of the local long haired teenagers, and was soon bootlegging my own versions of these logos, as being one of three growing boys, we couldn’t afford brand name clothing. One brand in particular was Mambo. I loved the cheekiness and I guess semi-offensive designs they were producing. It’s a culture I’ve always felt I’ve been a part of, and nowadays I’m helping produce these types of designs for a scene I’ve always looked up to.
How does your passion for music and tattoo art influence your artistic style?
Album and band poster art has been a massive interest of mine, and that inspiration has been fuelled by my cousin, who owns a record shop/label in Melbourne. I’m stoked that these days it’s my own work being used to promote something I’ve always looked up to. My dad was very passionate about music, so I was surrounded by Rock ‘n’ Roll at an early age, and most mornings before school we would all rock out to bands like the Doors, Black Sabbath and the Eagles.
I often chose a record to play based on the visual stimulation on the cover artwork and had them catalogued in order of preference based on this. I remember being in art class at high school and being introduced to Punk Rock by some older mates. I was hooked by their messages of not having to do as you were told and lack of authority, and that led to me failing art in Year 11, as I didn’t get along with my teacher’s opinions.
That genre of music (Punk/Hardcore) led me to being surrounded by tattoos, and I loved the fact that this form of art was permanent. I was always drawing designs for mates, but actually didn’t get my first until I was 27. I’ve made up for it since. I love how it translates from paper to skin and even on larger scale murals, as I’ve always used bold lines and lots of colour in my own works.
Where did the inspiration for this year’s FOTSUN artwork come from?
When Simon Luke sat me down and asked me to be this year’s FOTSUN artist, I was blown away. He showed me an image he wanted to base the theme on; it just so happened that I own a copy of this concept art (Katsushika Hokusai’s great wave off kanagawa) so we were immediately on the same page.
I translated the image into something more relatable to the event by adding in Port’s infamous breakwall to the background. I’ve been playing around with the Japanese tattoo style of drawing lately, so it was a lot of fun.
This year’s FOTSUN brings a twist, with an interactive art experience for Thursday nighters; what part are you playing in this?
This year will be the first time we are hosting the “Wabi Sabi” festival on the Thursday night of FOTSUN. It’s all about expressing the inner creative in you and gives the festival-goers the chance to get involved in some fun, creative pop-up workshops, including street art, sand sculpting and a whole bunch of other interactive activities. A couple of other artists and I will be performing live art and holding aerosol workshops for anyone interested in throwing some paint around. I think one of the best things about FOTSUN is its focus on the punters being such a massive part of the actual event, and Wabi Sabi is such a great way for people to get even more involved.
How can FOTSUNNERs get involved?
Get down early and come help us create something awesome. Thursday night tickets are only limited though, so you’ve got to get in early to experience Wabi Sabi, but we’ll be providing live art and hanging out the whole weekend, so come say hi.
Fotsun director Simon Luke says:
“With the range of amazing young local artists in the region, we thought it’s a great way for these people to share their love of what they do in a very informal, chilled environment. We hope that this trial run of Wabi Sabi will be something that can be embraced by the community as a whole, with plans to continue running pop up interactvie art experiences around Australia throughout the summer …” So Sigh, what else is in the pipeline?
If all goes well, we hope to keep attending different festivals and providing our brand of live and interactive art workshops for all ages.
Moving forward, what are your plans for the next 12 months?
The next 12 months are looking huge, with a few trips around the country to work on murals and painting festivals and the launch of my own clothing range alongside local legends Blackdog Ink.
I’ve also been lucky enough to help start up a little crew called Drop Kick Arts with some good friends of mine. its basically a creative collaborative committee of artists hosting live art events in the community to try and generate interest and funds to host our own street art festival here in Port Macquarie. We’re hosting events such as Squiggle Off, and the response from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive. Port Maquarie-Hastings Council has also got on board in helping make it happen. High fives all around.
And lastly, what words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?
Work hard, but have fun.
Don’t get caught.
Listen to your mum.
Check out Sigh Luxton’s artwork on instagram @sigh_13 or for more info on his artwork, email firstname.lastname@example.org