We’re forever inspired by the wealth of creativity that exists in Australia, from our own in-house creative team, to the photographers, stylists and artists we collaborate with in bringing the KOOKAI collection, imagery, boutique concepts and customer experience to you.
We’ve been particularly enamoured with the creations of contemporary Australian Aboriginal artist, Natalie Jade for some time now; falling in love with her use of pink, aqua and golden tones, and her signature style that draws heavily from her Indigenous heritage.
We commissioned Natalie Jade to create an artwork exclusively for KOOKAI’s Christmas season, to be featured on our tissue paper and gift cards to bring a uniquely inspired touch to your shopping and gifting experience.
In the lead up to the arrival of the artwork into our boutiques, we spoke with Natalie Jade to gain some more insight into the artist behind the art.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOVED ART & CREATING?
I’ve always loved art as long as I can remember. My earliest memories of creating artworks were probably like most people - in preschool! I look back at what I painted after having children and realised that for a 4 year old I was actually pretty good.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTISTIC STYLE? HOW HAS IT CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
Originally, I started painting abstract art while studying studio arts at school. I always felt really connected to and loved Aboriginal art but only found out I was Aboriginal in my early twenties which was a massive moment.
I put off painting Aboriginal art for so long because I didn’t want to do the wrong thing but once I got permission from the elders I went full steam ahead.
I’m still defining my style and am currently exploring combining my love for free form abstract art and contemporary Aboriginal art.
WHAT'S THE CREATIVE PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU, FROM THE INITIAL IDEA OR INSPIRATION THROUGH TO THE FINISHED PRODUCT?
I won’t normally plan my paintings; usually starting with colours I’m drawn to and create abstract backgrounds. Then I add the symbols and the story I am trying to convey which are connected to the stars, sun, sea and Mother Earth.
My artworks generally have a deeper meaning that I don’t always put out there in words. I think people can feel what’s behind them and I often have people comment how they find them very healing.
"My artworks generally have a deeper meaning that I don’t always put out there in words. I think people can feel what’s behind them … "
WHAT DO YOU FEEL MOST INFLUENCES OR INSPIRES YOUR WORK?
I’m inspired by colour itself as well as the things that I am connected to the most being the earth, the sun, stars and the sea as well as trees.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MEMORY OR PIVOTAL MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER AS AN ARTIST THUS FAR?
I’ve had a few parents let me know that their little ones aged 3-5 years old love my art so much that they’ve requested their parents buy it for them. I think that’s so incredibly cute! I don’t take on commissions anymore - but I did recently make one exception for a 5 year old.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS ART CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
I grew up in a very artistic family, so I feel like art has always been a part of my life in one form or another. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to be an artist for a living. I’m so grateful that I’m able to support my family in this way. For me being an artist is freedom and that’s something I hold so incredibly dear to me.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL MAKES A GREAT ARTIST?
I think a great artist is someone who continues to learn, explore, push boundaries and evolve. There’s an old saying in regards to art that goes “learn all the rules then break them”. I can’t say I ever learnt all the rules but I think when you get to the point where you create your own rules and don’t let yourself be boxed in in any way then you can create magic. I hope that one day I push through the boundaries in my mind and that it reflects in my artwork being out of this world. That’s not always something people are ready for but at the end of the day, if I like what I’ve created I can put it out there and not care what others think of it or me. I think it’s about being true to yourself and that’s where the freedom lies.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE ART WORLD HAS CHANGED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER?
When I first starting selling my paintings it was in bluethumb and at markets. While social media was gaining its momentum, I resisted getting a phone because I knew it would become an addiction, one I’m still very aware of. The art world has definitely shifted from galleries to online social media platforms and it’s something a lot of old school artists are not used to. These days you need to be more than a great artist to make it in the art world, you really need to be a jack of all trades or hire people that can be that for you. I have noticed a lot of artists now hire personal assistants, social media administration, marketing personnel and customer service administration staff.
I often feel like I’m doing the job of several people which doesn’t leave much time to paint especially when you have children. I’m having to think about hiring staff myself so that I can spend more time doing what I really love.