by Michelle Michalak April 28, 2017

New Zealand Artist Al Wrath has been on our radar for the past few years.  His colorful, light, and minimalist style, puts the F in Fun.

Slyde was stoked to send a one of a kind handboard to Al last month, and had the opportunity to pick his creative brain.

How would you describe your art style?

My style of art has been the same as long as I can remember. It is fun, vibrant, positive. It always includes things that are currently in my focus. I went through a phase when I discovered the handboard for the first time. I made couple out of plywood boards and used rope for the hand strap. On that first little 2ft wave, I nearly broke all bones across the top of my hand from that stupid piece of rope. It was back in 2012/2013 and everything I was drawing involved handboards.

Does Surfing Inspire your Artwork? Or Does Your Artwork Inspire Your Surfing?

Surfing has been theme of my life since I discovered it when I was 14. It had always been that common thread and really has dictated where I live, what I do for a job and the people I become mates with. Like all artists I struggle with creative block from time to time and also the concept of having to run a company which isn’t first, second or third nature for any artist. I like riding bikes, but for me it doesn’t clear my head nearly as much as when I go for a surf.

What artists inspire you?

Geoff Mcfetridge, Jeremyville, Oliver Jeffers

Do you have any tattoos? If so where and what of?

Ha ha tattoos, sure do. Got some pretty crap ones too. All tattoo collectors have a couple of crappers. I got my first tattoo when I was 16. I asked my dad and he said no. So I asked again and he said yes. On the day I forgot the picture of the tattoo. So the guy in the tattoo shop was like “here you go I have a photo” and I was like “um ok, sweet”. It’s pretty much gone now after 17 years of sun tanning it away. I have my wife's name on my finger and my kids names on my arms. I’m always planning more. I’m thinking some of my art would be cool.

What Type of Music Do You Listen to When Creating?

All sorts, I make playlists in Spotify. In the last year I made an old school Hip Hop playlist which I love, featuring A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Kurtis Blow, Digital Underground, Naughty by Nature and a heap more.

I’m a big fan of Ziggy Alberts who ticks all my boxes with his Australian hat wearing, environmentally conscious acoustic vibes.

What's Your Favorite Project or Piece of Art You've Done?

Probably a co-lab I worked on with Grain of Descent in Melbourne. It’s a hollow core Paulownia Mini Simmons surfboard. I created the artwork for it back in 2014 and it is so fitting for the season that we worked on the board together.

In 2014 we moved to Central Coast, NSW, Australia and lived in a small beach town named Avoca. I would surf most mornings, work from home and would always have a bit of a body bash through the day when it was good onshore. One day I found one of those backpacks on the side of the road that you put your kid in and go for a walk with. It was perfect as I would use it to shoot down for coffee most days with our 2 year old Roman on my back. I drew a piece of artwork of myself with Roman on my back and it ended up being the feature piece of the board.

What's your Biggest Challenge as an Artist?

Automatically I want to say making a living from as an artist and juggling cashflow. But, those are the same issues any small company has.

I feel like I’m speaking on behalf of most creatives when I say one of the hardest things is trying to see perfection in your work and not be insecure about what other artists are doing. I find there are so many amazing artists around that inspire me but also can intimidate me. I am at my best when I decide to wake up early (5am) with a coffee and instead of browsing Instagram decide go straight to my sketchbook.

Where is the Ultimate Place You'd Love to See Your Artwork Up?

Probably for me would be a sticker on the Slyde sticker door. Second to that would be creating the artwork for a WCT event. I froth so hard every event and to see it featured around so many people I respect and admire would make my year. Seems a little small time when you could have your artwork featured in Time Square. But I have my market and the companies I already work with in the surf industry that make me happy and satisfied.

What are you top 3 fav things about living in NZ?

  1. Surfing midweek on my local beaches, I can be out with 4 or 5 guys while it’s pumping in the summer. In the winter you can be out all by yourself. I surfed Purukaunui at the bottom of the South Island a few years back during summer. It was even too cold for a 4/3 wetty.
  2. My family and friends are here in NZ.
  3. It’s not hard to disappear in NZ. The west coast and east coast are only 35mins drive apart where I live. We have mountains, boiling mud, bush to walk in, beaches, lakes, nice people and I really think NZ is the safest country in the whole world.

Would you rather be painted by Picasso or Dali?

Dali, I used it read his books at a mates house as a kid. They were super odd but stuck with me for life.

 Al Wrath NZ Artist

New Zealand Beach

Al Wrath New Zealand Artist

Michelle Michalak
Michelle Michalak

Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, Bluefly.com However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.


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