Corbin Nash: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Corbin Nash is rad. Plain and simple. When you call him on the telephone line he talks to you with passion and joy and enthusiasm for any subject, be that general chit-chat, or detailing the worst surf trip down the coast he just had, or the artwork he’s been doing lately. Corbin seems stoked about all of it. He did when Coastalwatch called him for the latest Young, Free, Alright! profile anyway. The 23-year-old Cronulla graphic designer has worked with Space 44, been commissioned to illustrate for Surfing World Magazine, and dipped his brush in live-painting competitions and exhibitions all over Sydney. With his roots firmly entrenched in Cronulla’s young surf community, and a rising profile in art and design, we thought him perfect to be the first artist featured in Young, Free, Alright! presented by Arnette. Even though he’s 23, which is positively ancient… (jokes). Also it’s worth noting that at the end of the interview he said he was going to see Bad Neighbours at the cinema that night… he was looking forward to it.
CW: How did you get into trying to make a living doing art?
CN: Hmm, well I’ve always loved to draw and I was always doing art, like painting, and then I finished high school and was like, "What the hell am I going to do? And Mum’s like, “Why don’t you do graphic design and art,” so I was like, “Yeah alright.” And that’s pretty much how I got into art (laughs), and then I really hated uni at first, I thought it was crap because it’s all theory, and then I ended up loving it and I wish I was back there now because it’s such a fun lifesytyle.
What did you study?
I did a Bachelor of Graphic Design, and I painted throughout the whole thing too because I did painting as an elective.
What does the term surf-art mean to you, and do you think your works falls within it?
I guess… I’m not sure.
It’s a pretty broad, open-ended question isn’t it?
Yeah, it is… it depends what I’m doing at the time. Hmm, you’ve got me stuffed here… it depends what my thought process is behind what I’m actually going to do. I usually love to have a surfing edge to my work because I love to surf obviously, and yeah… so, yeah, we’ll say yeah (laughs).
What about your art influences, I imagine it would come from pretty broad areas in the art and graphic design world, but some elements must come from surfing too?
Yeah, I’m heaps inspired by Ben Brown, I love his stuff he’s amazing. I’ve got thousands of artists but I’m mind blanking right now.
We’ll come back to it. Cronulla seems to have a really good little artistic community thriving within its surf community at the moment. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah, It’s been a lot bigger now because of obviously Space 44, those boys, they’ve been hitting up a lot of people. I did a gallery there in 2011 maybe.
How old were you then?
20. Since I’ve finished uni I don’t really paint as much as I want to, but they always hit me up to do stuff which is cool, and they’ve been really supportive of Cronulla people and trying to get the scene bigger. Like, did you hear about the cubes?
Yeah, tell us more about that.
Well it was called Outside Art, they put up these big cubes in Cronulla Mall, they got big street artists from the city as well and a lot of Cronulla people painting them for a day. It was pretty cool. We got heaps of really good feedback form that, people were frothing.
And you also did live painting at their festival, Sounds of The Suburbs, as well.
Yeah that was rad. I loved it.I’ve done a lot of live painting actually. the first one was with Space 44, they got me to do it at the Mexican restaurant next door. I was actually a bit nervous,… and it was a raffle to win and everyone was so pissed off because my girlfriend won it. And then I’ve done heaps with Sol Beer, they have Sol Summer events and I do murals with them which is pretty cool. Done a few in the cuty, just rndom ones.
What’s it like painting in front of people like that? I mean, if someone is standing over my shoulder and looking at the screen, I can’t write at all.
If I’m liking what I’m painting, I’ll be happy. But if I’m not, I’ll be really pissed off. I was in a competition at the Lo-fi Collective in the city, it was called the Battle Royal competition, I was up there, and you had to do your painting under a certain time-limit and I was hating what I was painting. I was so pissed off, and everyone was watching me and I just wanted to take my time. With a time-limit is a bit harder, any other time if I’m just free doing it, I don’t really mind. Like with the cubes people would come up to you and you’d be like, “Hey, what’s up?” Heaps chilled and everyone’s cool with it, just interested to know what you’re doing really.
Do you have any pieces or graphic design work that you’ve been particularly stoked on?
Probably mostly my skateboard designs I do for work, I put a lot of time into those. Umm… what else do I like? The cube I did at the mall was probably one of my favourite paintings. That’s probably it. I don’t really have that many favourites, I like them at the time and then as soon as I finish and look at them I’m like, “I’m over this.”
Tell us about the job you did for Surfing World recently, the portraits.
Oh yeah that was cool. I had to do I think it ended up being 18 illustrations – portraits of some of the pro surfers and a some of the people that work at Surfing World Magazine, they wanted to do a black and white, what style would ya call it? Line-art I guess. Line art?
Yeah, we’ll go with that. Who were you psyched on drawing?
Kelly. Mick. I was pretty happy with how they turned out. Derek Hynd was my favourite one. That was cool. Shane Stedman, I like that guy. Ross Clarke Jones was a cool one too.
What about Westerly?
Well, yeah, that was pretty cool. Dad was like, “Is that the man?” I was like, “I dunno who it is.” And Dad is like, “Yeah she used to be a man.” I went, “Oh really?” I didn’t even know.
What was the process for doing those?
They’d give me a photo, and I didn’t have a long time period to get them done, so I was sort of tracing them to go quicker, drawing straight on the computer so I didn’t have to freehand, I have this bamboo pad where you can draw straight onto the computer and it’s so much quicker than sketching it out and scanning it in and re-digitalizing everything.
They came out great. I think the Derek Hynd one is my favourite.
When I was doing him I was thinking, is this coming out a bit creepy? He sort of looked a bit creepy, but in the end he turned out sick, he was my favourite.
Let’s talk about Ben Brown again, it’s really clear in your work that he’s a major influence.
Yeah I love him.
What gets you so stoked on Ben Brown?
The first time I ever saw his work was on Instagram, and I was like dude this guy is mental… and his name was @mentalben, and I was like, woah, exacty. And then I went looking for more of his stuff and discovered that he is completely awesome. He’s got this heaps cool, hell detailed line style. I met him when I was doing that live painting stuff in the city. I was like, “Is that that Ben Brown guy? I’ve got to meet him 100%.” We ended up having a chat and having a beer and he’s a full legend. And then I saw that radio thing (Ain’t That Swell Season 2, Epidode 3) he did and he said he liked my drawings and I was like, “Hellll yeah!” I even showed my mum that.
I guess that’s how I associate your work with surf art, because he’s quite iconic in that regard, along with skateboard art and punk music, he did the Stab comics too and I see you in that kind of lineage. Anyway, what would you say your goals are for your art and graphic design?
At the moment I really just want to get more experience. I want to work somewhere cool where I can do illustrations as well as design, because I’d much prefer to do illustrations than design, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do sometimes. And with art I dunno, I don’t really find the time for paintings as much anymore. I sketch nearly every night, but it’s really hard to do big paintings at the moment, I need to get keen again.
Was there much of a culture and art influence growing up in Cronulla or is that something that has just come about lately?
When I was growing up I didn’t consciously think about art that much. I always used to draw because my mum used to get me to, and Mambo was my favourite, my most treasured thing. I just loved Mambo, that was such a huge influence on me. I remember I used to recreate all the drawings, anything Mambo I just used to draw, I’ve still got a few of them I think. That’s from when I was like 6 years old. I loved it all.
Young, Free, Alright! is a fortnightly editorial series presented by Coastalwatch and Arnette showcasing and profiling young and up-and-coming photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, artists, musicians, shapers, surfers or whatevers that we've been digging. The rad and creative groms of Australian surfing. Alright!
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