Tag Archives: Norfolk Island

On becoming a surf artist and a short PSA about bullying

Fieldey painting a longboard skatedeck

Painting a digestive tract onto a skateboard… dream job!

Everyone’s got a story and this one’s mine. I’m posting this today in the hopes of showing people that there is no ‘right’ path to pursuing an art career and living life on your own terms… it’s never to late to try.

I’d also like to shout-out to anyone else who was bullied, and if you’re being bullied now, I just want to give you a hug and tell you that you’re going to get through this. You don’t choose to be bullied, but you have a choice about how you react to it, and you can choose to be a better person. When you come out the other side you’ve got an advantage over the non-bullied… you’re made of steel now and you have a sense of determination and something to prove to the world. I wouldn’t be who I am today without that experience – so thank you bullies, you’ve given me the resilience I need to do what I love.

The following is a longer version of an interview published in the April edition of White Horses magazine.

Your art background and development: tell us about how you came to surfboards as your canvas?

Like many artists I’ve been painting and drawing ever since I can remember… the feeling when your immersed in a creative project is just the best, you feel like everything is in-tune, and that you are doing exactly what you were meant to be doing – what you were designed to do. From an early age art was my escape and my solace.

When I was young I was obsessed with horses and hated school, so I spent all of my maths classes looking out the window daydreaming and drawing horses in the exercise books pretending I was somewhere else. To this day I am excellent at drawing horses and rubbish at maths. Kids used to pay me $5 to draw ‘portraits’ of their horses…which was pretty much whatever type of horse I felt like drawing except in the correct colour.

Horse drawings

16 year old horse-dork me

In secondary school I was bullied pretty intensively so art became even more important to me, becoming something of an obsession and a way to escape the miserable realities of school life. Everybody thought I’d become an artist, but in year 10, I had a careers advisor who ‘advised’ me that I’d die poor and alone if I pursued that particular career. When I finished school I studied graphic design in Sydney and took off to London for a year or so to hone my craft. I liked graphic design well enough but as the years passed I felt that the dream of becoming an artist was slipping further away… I didn’t have an artistic direction, I had stopped drawing and creating and felt like I had lost a part of myself.

In 2007 I washed up on Western Australia’s sunny shores right before the GFC when business was booming and they couldn’t pay designers enough money to come and design annual reports for mining companies. I got my first well paying job in a design company in Perth and spent the next three years or so detesting the place and the eventually the work. I took some time off to travel to South America, and that was a wakeup call for me to change some things in my life, I took on a freelance job that allowed me more time to pursue my own interests and also took up surfing.

Taking up surfing in Perth was pretty much the best idea ever – everything started to make sense and I enjoyed the beautiful beaches, the laid-back lifestyle and the crappy surf. About 6 months into my ‘learning to surf’ I mistakenly decided it was time to upgrade to a short board and got myself a 6’7″ Superfish. Couldn’t ride it worth a damn, but I had an idea that it would be fun to paint it. I dusted off my art supplies and got hold of Josh from Oceanline surfboards who very sportingly spent some time on the phone patiently instructing me how to prepare my board for painting. So, I painted my board with a fish headed woman and a banner calling it “The Fish Wife” and purposely used a kind of bastardised old-school tattoo style which was easy to paint with my limited spray paint skills… my brother filmed it for me and we chucked it up on YouTube as a tutorial and “Fieldey” was born.

Your relationship with surfing/the ocean… how has that developed?

I was born in New Zealand, but when I was 8 my parents moved to Norfolk Island, a tiny tiny speck in the South Pacific – about halfway between New Zealand and Australia. From the highest point on the island you have a 360º view of nothing but ocean – the nearest landmass being about 1500km away. The island is surrounded by huge cliffs and we routinely got hit by cyclones and wild storms that would lash the seas up to huge peaks and batter the cliffs… when I was a kid I used to go fishing off the rocks with my dad, and I was always on the lookout for the legendary “Seventh Wave” that according to local legend, could spring up unawares out of a calm ocean and sweep you off the rocks to your doom. People had been washed off the rocks whilst fishing or swimming in rock pools and I used to have continual nightmares of it.

Cyclone waves on Norfolk Island

Scary cyclone waves – bad day for fishing

Growing up like this, surrounded by an unpredictable and huge ocean as well as seeing the size of the sharks that would cruise past when we were fishing, I was scared of waves and swimming in deep water. When I was about 26 I did my PADI Open Water diver course as a way to help conquer my fears of the water and developed a love for scuba diving.

I took up surfing both for something to do, and also as a way of getting over my fear of waves… in the early stages of kookhood I went out in stupid conditions at Trigg beach in Perth and got washed back up on the beach in a tangle of bruises and surfboard after being mauled in the dumpers, but I started to learn about the right conditions and as I got the hang of things I realised that surfing is super addictive. Mostly I just love to be out on the water, it seems to induce a meditative state and that’s where most of my best ideas come from. Nowdays being on, in or near the ocean is something I regard is being necessary for a healthy and happy life… I don’t think I’ll ever live away from it.

Where’s it all heading for you

The last few years have been a crazy ride – if you had of told me five years ago that I would be painting surfboards professionally, I wouldn’t have believed it!

In the last three years I’ve painted dozens of surfboards, bowling pins, a giant remote controlled jet boat, designs for Iron Fist Clothing and heaps of skate decks.

I’ve recently opening an online store of board art decals and inlays, and I’m in the midst of filming more YouTube tutorials with sponsorship by Molotow paints, The Butcher Shop and Star Skate and Surf. I’d also like to have a fine art exhibition of painted wooden alaias that I’ve been working on.

Most of all I’m achieving my dream of being an artist and doing the things I love, and it’s a big adventure. Life doesn’t get much better!

Surfing at Trigg beach


Filed under Art, Inspiration, Interview, Norfolk Island

The best surf destination you’ve never heard of

Norfolk Island Surfing

Image courtesy of Norfolk Island Tourism

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time. I want to show off the place where I grew up, which as it turns out, is one of the best little-known surf spots ever! It’s a tiny island (5km x 8km) in between Australia and New Zealand but completely out in the middle of the Tasman sea.

With uncrowded waves, clean blue water and no recorded shark attacks, what’s not to like? Norfolk Island got some love on Swellnet (Australia’s biggest surf portal) over Christmas with a photo gallery of empty tubes, and the internet was frothing over the quality of what Norfolk has to offer.

Without further ado I present for your viewing pleasure the waves of Norfolk Island. The photos below are from two talented local photographers – my brother Matt Fieldes (http://www.facebook.com/MattFieldesPhotography) and Zach Sanders (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stuck-On-A-Rock/256010924468702?fref=ts) if you want to see more wave action check out their Facebook Pages.

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Some handy links:


Filed under Inspiration, Norfolk Island, Photography, Surfing

Myse Tintoela… or still-life with Chiko Roll

Painted Surf Board Art - Myse tintoela Emily Bay

I’m very proud to present to you: Myse Tintoela (My Sweetheart.)

I’m terribly proud of this for a few reasons, one of which was that I had to gird my loins and face my fear of landscapes head on. The result was a fairly true to life rendition of Emily Bay, Norfolk Island, with Lone Pine there in the background. It’s amazing what a little spray paint sky and clouds coupled with acrylic ocean/sand/pine will accomplish. If I were to toot my own horn, I would say that the background adds a little bit of dimension to the board.

The second reason I’m pleased as punch is that this is my first *commission* (if you can call a board for my parents Fish and Chip shop such a lofty title…) It was interesting having to paint for someone else rather than to express my own diseased imaginings, I had to create an artwork with some relevance to both Norfolk Island (being where the shop is) and Fish and Chips. Initially, she was going to be eating a piece of battered fish in a sort of semi-cannibalistic tableaux, but I figured that it would end up looking like a small strange yellow cloud which would raise more questions than it answered. Instead, I settled on the iconic Chiko Roll. If you’re from anywhere other than Australia, you might not know what this is; picture a giant spring roll, generously filled with gelatinous cabbage and small black specks, encased in a cast-iron boiler plate of leathery pastry. It’s a bit like eating a deep fried wetsuit filled with glue. It’s quite an experience, you really must come over and try one…

Close up of Polynesian Mermaid with Chiko Roll

As for the Norfolk side of things, well, Emily Bay is just the poster-child for the island, a lovely coral encrusted, shark-free number, surrounded by Norfolk Pines and Georgian ruins. Idyllic no?

Emily Bay Norfolk Island

The name Myse Tintoela is a Norf’k name meaning My Sweetheart. Yes, Norfolk Island, a territory of Australia, has it’s own language called Norf’k. For the keen linguists amongst us you can learn more about it here.

Myse Tintoela, Emily Bay, Norfolk Island

For anyone on Norfolk, or planning a visit there, drop by Ocean Blue Fish and Chip shop up in Middlegate, and check her out! Also, dad makes the best battered Trumpy (Sweet Lip Emperor to anyone not from Norfolk) caught locally!

Myse Tintoela in situ at Ocean Blue Takeaways


Filed under Art, Norfolk Island, Surf Art