NO-FI RECORDS HAVE CARVED A PRETTY SOLID SPACE FOR THEMSELVES IN NEWCASTLE AND IT IS GREAT TO SEE A LABEL, AS MUCH AS A COMMUNITY GROUP, THAT SEES THE VALUE OF SUPPORTING AND INVESTING IN LOCAL ARTISTS ACROSS A VARIETY OF MEDIUMS. LIZ PIKE HAS RECENTLY BEEN ADDED TO THE CREATIVE DEPARTMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR ARTWORK FOR NO-FI, INCLUDING POSTERS, COVER ART AND THE LIKE. SHE’S PRETTY RAD, SO WE WANTED TO HEAR IT FROM HER…
I sat down one morning for a cup of tea (I had coffee) with Liz at Suspension Espresso (we should start getting free coffee from them, shouldn’t we?). Liz gave me a little more info about her art practice, working with No-Fi and living out of home but going back there a lot…
I guess the first question is: how do you describe the art that you make?
This is so funny. I've never been asked this, so it's interesting trying to summarise that, but I think a lot of art I make is probably inspired by people. So a lot of portraiture throughout my work. I think my work lends to whatever medium I'm working with. I'm not good at 3D art; I'm definitely a 2D artist. Normally I work in acrylic just because I'm pretty poor and acrylic is so much more affordable than oil paint or anything and I just love it – it's so easy to use as far as drying time. I love acrylic paint and playing around with materials so, if I'm using pencils, it's quite detailed I guess. With paint it's a bit more fluent.
And how do you choose what medium you are going to work with? Does it depend on whether it's a commission?
Definitely. I think a lot of the art I create is for a purpose. If I'm doing art for art's sake, I guess it's a lot of pens – just biro, or a Sharpie – just scribbles. But depending on if it's a poster or whether someone has commissioned something and they've got something in mind, then that kind of dictates what I can use.
So you say scribbling – is that just when you start creating art and you didn't really plan to?
Definitely, definitely. Interesting, a lot of that ends up in my art as well. I did my first poster recently, which was interesting, and I played around with so many ideas. It was quite a different type of artwork to normal painting, I guess. And I ended up using scribbles from a sketchbook that I had already and just scanned them in and played around with it. So I guess they do end up being pretty useful.
If you’re at a party and someone asks, ‘Liz, what do you do?’, do you say artist?
No, I'm still struggling with that term, which is ridiculous because I am an artist. It's interesting. I know a lot of my friends, who are definitely artists as well, struggle with identifying as an artist when asked what they do. I don't know why that is.
So what do you tell people?
Well, I usually say that I work in retail. I work at Abicus. And I do say also that I do art for No-Fi, but rarely do I use the term 'artist'. I think that's something I'm going to have to start adjusting to and using.
Abicus is also a cool store.
Yes, I love working there, and that's led to its own art as well. I did a window install for a launch, which was really fun, so as far as a retail job goes, it's really good and they are very accommodating for my schedule with art stuff.
So you've talked a little bit about commissions. Are No-Fi a large part of that? How does that work? How do you people find you?
I'm pretty fresh to No-Fi, which has been incredibly fun – a big learning curve as far as the digital side. And the way that it works is whenever bands have events on, we have four people in the team and we all have really different styles, so people pick which artists they would like to do the poster. Then they ask us if we’re able to, and then we work with the bands and create the work.
Other than that, we work really closely with the bands, so we’re in pretty close communication with them about events. But commission-wise, outside of that, not much. It often leads to people hitting you up. No-Fi is amazing crediting us, so once they start pushing out the promo, they always have my name as the last name in the poster, which is beautiful. This morning I got messaged by a girl who had seen the poster for one of the events and just asked if I would do something. So I guess people are just finding it through that as well.
Did you grow up in Newcastle?
Yes. I lived in the same house that we lived in for twenty years and just moved to Mayfield. So I’ve been here a little while.
Do you have any artists that really inspire you? Are there key artists that you usually look to for inspiration?
Yes, definitely, for sure. I actually find a lot of my inspiration is around me, not necessarily just in artwork from artists, but a lot of movies as well. One of my housemates studied film and he has introduced me to some really good movies. We watched Youth recently and that was just so stunning visually – stuff like that definitely inspires my work. Like Sofia Coppola – all her work is visually just so dreamy and beautiful and I think a lot of her films have inspired me.
Artist-wise, I think a lot of local artists that I get to work with definitely inspire me. Since working with the No-Fi art team, that has been invaluable – to be able to send through ideas and have three different artists comment and give advice. We’re all coming from such different styles, so that definitely inspires.
Does that kind of propel you? Inspire you in a different way, not just artistically, but maybe motivate you to make a career out of art?
Oh, definitely. I mean, Angus is the only one who has training as far as the graphic design side goes, and seeing him and what he does has really inspired me to pursue it. It’s definitely inspiring to watch them. And I think they definitely push me as well. We send through ideas and everyone is very honest, so, if there are things that they don't think are working, they'll let you know. Which is good. It can be tough to swallow sometimes, but it's amazing as far as growing as an artist. It's really important to learn from that.
What does the 'Liz' ideal future look like?
Hopefully staying on this path, definitely. I've loved to be able to have worked through No-Fi as well as Cushions outside of No-Fi. So I'd be cool to start working more events as well – posters have been so much fun. I've really loved that. Definitely just jumping in more with events as well. Being on the No-Fi team, we delve into the art side of music events, which will be fun. I think just staying on this path and hopefully doing more work. Pushing myself as well. I'm working on a commission at the moment that's one of the biggest pieces I've done. And playing around – like, using vellum as a material, which is this really sheer sheet of plastic, layered to create a translucent look. Just pushing what I’m doing.
When you're not making art or at a No-Fi show, where do you like to hang out in Newcastle?
Honestly, my house in Mayfield. I live with three of my really beautiful friends and living there has been a lot of fun. We’re always hanging out together. But other than that, once it gets a bit warmer, definitely Newcastle bars, the beach, even just hanging out at the park. Mostly No-Fi gigs and art at the moment and work – just that circuit, this career.
There's not a lot of spare time outside of that?
There's not. I don't have Photoshop at all at my place. It's at my parents’ house and so I haven't seen my housemates lately. They've been joking about me just being at my parents’ house. I'm using Photoshop there so I've been back there a lot.
If you could teach Novocastrians one thing, what would it be?
Definitely to try to advertise the local scene. It has been such an important part of living in Newcastle for me. I think it's a pretty widening scene as well. It's been really beautiful watching the scene be more inclusive and aware of that.
What else should people know about you?
Maybe as far as my practice goes – it was actually interesting, I was talking with Hannah (Dunn), who I work with down at No-Fi, and I think we’re kind of opposite in how we time-manage. I'm in awe of her being able to get up so early, at like, 5am, to smash out an event. I’m more of the 'will do an all-nighter, get it in in the morning and then spend the day sleeping' type. My schedule is ridiculous. I think working with me could be interesting. I know Joe from Raave Tapes has stayed up one night until 4am just while we've finished the poster.
What's your favourite cafe?
Suspension. Here we are, literally. I'm a sucker for the porridge. I almost ordered it today when I was here.
Oh, really? You totally could have gone for it.
This interview would have just been me eating porridge.
Catch Liz’s work via No-Fi Records on all their channels and follow her on Instagram: @liz.pike.art.