60 seconds with - ERYN WITHAWHY / by Kian West


  Eryn graciously featured on 1/2 limited edition covers for the January issue of NM and we were so incredibly stoked to catch up with her and take a moment to highlight someone that is such an inspiration to so many others and a personal favorite of us here at Mirage. If you don't already know Eryn Withawhy, this article will be a special treat. It is people like Eryn that make our amazing city the incredible place it is. YOU MIGHT KNOW ERYN AS THE ENERGETIC FACE OF THE STEEL CITY COLLECTIVE, BUT ERYN IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THE DIRECTOR OF AN ART COLLECTIVE AND GALLERY OWNER. SHE IS A HIGHLY CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL, EXTREMELY MOTIVATED TO DO GREAT FOR THE COMMUNITY SHE LIVES IN AND LEAVE AN IMPACT ON THE SOULS SHE CONNECTS WITH. IT IS BECAUSE OF THIS WE FELT IT NECESSARY TO INTERVIEW ONE OF THE ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTORS OF NEWCASTLE MIRAGE.ISSUE_8_COV1


So Eryn, thanks for taking time out of your crazy schedule to speak, Tell us a little bit about yourself? Any time, Kian! To be honest, it’s weird to be on the other side of an interview. Well…according to my shiny new website (www.withawhy.com.au), I’m the girl who asks questions. I think that sums me up pretty perfectly. I’m constantly evolving, constantly learning and constantly pushing myself to know more and be more. I’m a freelance designer, illustrator, artist and creative events manager. Sometimes I write copy.

You have recently been working with the Special Olympics when they were in Newcastle, care to tell us a little about this experience? Newcastle is so lucky to have hosted such an amazing event! The people involved; the athletes, families, support staff, volunteers and event co-ordinators, were such positive, inspiring people! I was asked to orchestrate a large scale art performance as part of the Opening Ceremony. With only two weeks lead time, my plans of creating a 200-canvas strong illustrative mosaic were a little ambitious, but the resulting display was something I’m very proud of. In the end I painted approximately 70 1m x 1.5m canvases over three days. The individual pieces matched up to reveal a portrait of Jessica, a dancer who was chosen to be showcased as a hero in the ceremony. The first time I saw the whole piece was at the dress rehearsal - it was pretty surreal. They had a helicopter fly over to film it. Footage of the event unfolding and us spray painting in front of a stadium of people was streamed live on national TV. I’m so grateful to all the people who volunteered last minute to help at the rehearsal and the performance. I couldn’t have picked a better team to work with. Everyone who came along was positive, flexible, supportive, enthusiastic and just great. I owe them a great deal. Many thanks to Jane, Claudia, Lauren (and her lovely mother!), Bryan, Grant, Josh, Glenn, Nathan, Andy, Dane, Dru, Gale and Ethan as well as the fantastic staff and students from Swansea High School and Newcastle Waldorf School!! Special thanks to my wonderful mother who had no idea that she’d be called upon to assist when I was lacking volunteers! Thanks lady! ISSUE_8_ERYN 2What are some of the current projects you are working on? Where do I start? I’ve just finished the poster for an event I’m involved with on the 16th of January at South Newcastle Beach - it’s an all ages festival brought to Newcastle by a variety of community organisations including Headspace, Samaritans, Salvation Army Oasis Youth Network Hunter, Newcastle Community Youth Development Project, Newcastle Skate, Steel City Collective, Multicultural Neighbourhood Centre Inc and Medicare Local Hunter. There’s going to be live music, DJs, live art, games, skate clinics, prizes, giveaways and a free lunch! I’m also working on branding and promotional material for a huge night of entertainment in Sydney mid next year as well as some ongoing events in Melbourne kicking off in a few months. There’s also the various public art installations and walls I’m working on with Steel City Collective - including a series of murals in Hunter high schools, a backlog of commissioned artworks and a few other smaller boutique designs for local businesses and individuals. After the success of TravJamJar’s solo show at Shop Steel City, I’m looking forward to curating a group show as well as putting on a few more solo shows for some very talented local artists. I’m sure that I’ve forgotten about a bunch of things…

Where do you see yourself in five years? I don’t know where I see myself next week.

If you could work with any person, who would it be? There’s a few on my list. I’d love the chance to work for agencies BMF and DraftFCB, responsible for the Aldi - Prices You’ll Love Talking About and Honda Civic - Symphony In Motion campaigns respectively. They were two of my favourite multi-platform campaigns in 2013. Locally, I’m actually really excited about a collaboration with Alien Art tattoo artist Dan Arnold (@ridingwithdeath on instagram). He’s a good friend of mine and a brilliant artist. I cannot wait to work with him on the large scale works we have planned!

When you aren’t creating, what else do you enjoy doing with any spare time? Hahahahahahahahahahaha. You’re funny, Kian.ISSUE_8_ERYN 1