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Wade Koniakowsky interview

Californian surf artist

Californian artist Wade Koniakowsky speaks about his career in art…

Wade, tell us about your background, where are you from, where do you reside now, where do you work from?

WK: I grew up in Texas, surfing on the Gulf. I relate to those that have few waves but a lot of stoke. I've lived in California since 1978. I work in a studio in my home in Carlsbad, California. I have a painting studio and a digital studio.

So when did you first find an appreciation for art?

WK: I drew incessantly as a kid. My mother put me in painting classes when I was 6 years old. When it came time to go to college, there was only one thing I could major in.

What inspires you as an artist? Clearly surfing is a major influence in your work, where else do you draw inspiration from?

WK: Ideas inspire me. I spent 25 years in advertising, an idea driven business. While most of my work now wouldn't be considered 'conceptual' it will probably go that way once I develop greater mastery of my medium.

Has surfing always been a subject for your work? For instance you have worked as a commercial artist within advertising agencies before?

WK: (See above). I started surfing at age 12, around 1966. By then I was immersed in art as well. Naturally, surfing would be a favourite subject.

What is it about surfing and/or surf culture that inspires you so?

WK: It's been said, but it is true, surfing itself is art. So naturally it would inspire other forms of visual (and nonvisual) expression.

Over the years how has your art progressed?

WK: I started painting in college, but put down the brush for 25 years to do advertising. I've been back into it for about 7 years now. I had to learn the medium again- the simple act of painting, materials, etc. (which I'm still learning). My early work was pretty graphic, more figurative, and inspired by poster design. I'm currently very involved in a new series of tonalist wave scenes in a more muted palette.

Are there any other artists, individuals or organisations that inspire you, personally or professionally?

WK: Michael Cassidy has been a huge help. I'm inspired by Rick Griffin, Ken Auster and John Singer Sargent in the figurative realm.

You've had your work featured in galleries, museums, magazines and websites all around the world, at what stage in your career did you start getting this kind of exposure?

WK: I received a lot of exposure for my work in advertising, so I was already a pretty aggressive self-promoter. I'm sure I've gotten more press than I deserve.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of surf art, with surf art now appearing in magazines, surf shops, surf contest campaigns etc…?

WK: There seems to be an interest in the genre. Could be the people that appreciate it most don't even surf. Similarly, the best stuff will probably be done by people who don't consider themselves a 'surf artist'. Just creative people looking for beauty. Surfing has plenty of that.

Your art is available to purchase on various websites, magazines and of course on your own website… How does it feel to know so many people enjoy your work?

WK: I feel I'm just scratching the surface, but of course I'm indebted to all those who have simply appreciated or purchased my work.

Thanks again Wade for this insight into your work.

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