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Coastal living, 70s music and working backwards with Palm Beach visual artist Finlay Begg

Finlay Begg is working backwards. The Palm Beach-based artist is becoming known about town for his pop art inspired prints, which call loudly to his coastal upbringing and respect and admiration for the subcultures of the golden eras of music.

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Living in the past is usually considered as a bit of a roadblock , but Finlay Begg has found that by looking to a time gone by he is able to make better sense of today.

This ethos has carried him through the National Art School in Darlinghurst and towards building the screen-printing and design business he hopes to have officially launched in 2017. However, this does not mean that his work isn’t available right here, right now.

Outside personal projects, Fin has developed an entrepreneurial streak far beyond his 21 years, the t-shirts and singular pieces he prints being poignant, conversational and far from juvenile.

Finlay Begg

Each piece reflects a serious merry-go-round in Fin’s brain, drawing links between the world he is currently immersed in and his understanding of the past. In some ways, half his head is in Laurel Canyon and The Factory and the rest is soaking up the vibes of millennial inner Sydney; the idyllic combination.

Standing  close to 6 foot 5, scruffy and casual with a wicked smile, Fin exudes a calm confidence and clarity, which in many ways sets him apart from his peers in the emerging arts culture. He is down to earth and willing to have a tinnie and a dart with just about anyone.

Perhaps this is why the stories that build up his work come so easily?

Deeply inspired by the experimental era of the 1960s and 1970s, after a bit of digging bands Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and The Doors came out of the woodworks for Fin, and is now garnering deep respect for contemporary artists, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and Mac DeMarco. There is no limit to what can touch this guy and become the catalyst for the next print.

Finlay Begg

Working towards a business of designing his own tee’s and collaborating with bands and independent artists for their own projects, Finlay has the skeleton for a label which supports the merch elements of the music industry, but is also creating a delicate connection between the sound and visual arts.

Finlay is definitely his own man. A mature and innovative artist, with big ideas and a clear vision, this is a guy any band would be lucky to have on their team.

Eager to get some more details, we sat down for a chat with Fin over a Carlton.

Finlay Begg

HAPPY: So the latest project is print making, tell us a bit more about what drew you to prints from drawing?

FINLAY BEGG: Originally I was drawn to the craftsmanship quality of printmaking, I found that I had more ability in drawing than painting, and printmaking mediums like woodcut, intaglio and dry point seemed to cater for that. I am now sure that printmaking is my preferred discipline because it has a conceptual structure that I can work around and draw inspiration from, such as its industrial history. I like to think that my current work draws from the tradition of advertising and mass production. Screen-printing lets me realise ideas in a crisp and immediate way, and in painting I can be gestural and expressive.

HAPPY: You grew up in Palm Beach, how much has the traverse between Sydney’s inner city and the coast impacted your art and do you have a preference?

FINLAY BEGG: I am keen on moving closer to town; in the past my art in print has been focused on devising imagery that communicates my idea of where I come from and what I associate with my upbringing. My objective has often been to produce an image, which I can relate to and, if through a use of colour and imagery, I can incite the same feelings in the viewer that I have about the subject, then that work is successful. Growing up where I did has given me a familiar tool set of warm sunny tones and palm trees.

Finlay Begg

HAPPY: Music! It seems obvious, but the music is what keeps the world going round for a lot of us. Do you see much live music in Sydney and what’s on your playlist at the moment?

FINLAY BEGG: I am a big fan of Aussie music at the moment and currently pumped for Splendour. I treat myself to the occasional gig in Sydney, I’m excited with Sydney’s electronic music such as Wave Racer, Basenji and Cosmos Midnight, standard weekend tunes. But I’m mostly drawn to old and contemporary rock and roll, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Pink Floyd. Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Hiatus Kaiyote and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are at the top of my playlist. King Gizzard’s Quarters with it’s epic slow jam rock tracks felt like a channelling of older rock and roll traditions. UMO always inspired me with their progressive and experimental approach to music blending rock and pop and retain all the tropes of the psychedelic 60s 70s subculture.

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HAPPY: The business venture sounds really amazing and will no doubt be the start of something big for you, where do you hope to take it from where you stand at the moment?

FINLAY BEGG: I am very excited about what’s to come. Screen printing is definitely where I want to be in terms of art practice, I am now focused on learning as much about the industry as I can, getting in touch with other screen printers and continuing to educate myself, NAS has been a great springboard. My goal is to end up with a studio in which I can work with fellow printers on our own art practice but also working with clients in the scope of specifically artistic design. T-shirts and merch is a great opportunity.

HAPPY: Finally, any advice for kids hoping to study art or those deciding where they want to take it?

FINLAY BEGG: I went to NAS straight out of school because I knew I could do art to a decent level and it felt like the right idea. But art school in these three years has improved my idea of what art is and what my motivations are for making it, I am now pretty sure of what I want to do. An art degree is a serious leg up if you want to be an artist, use your teachers and make connections. Or, if you’re creative and unsure about what you want to do, an art degree can give you an idea of your own practice and help you realise what you want to create.

Check out Finlay’s Instagram for more info and, of course, more of his art.

While you’re here, check out our piece on Aussie musicians who are also artists.

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July 19, 2016