Get to know our friend Allan
Allan Wrath is an Auckland based graphic designer, illustrator and muralist. A masterful mixer of strong conceptual, compositional, typographic and illustrative elements, Allan has drawn, painted and printed his quirky expressions of positivity on every conceivable and legally available surface. Inspired by clean and simple living, people are drawn to his idiosyncratic marriage of coolness and clear communication.
What is your artist background?
I started out in my first creative role in 2002 as a signwriter designing signs, painting signs and using my hands to make stuff. In 2005 I studied design at Media Design School. Then went on to landing my dream job at Federation Clothing, I was at Federation Clothing for 3 years. Then pursued a career as an illustrator.
What city in New Zealand do you live?
When did you start doing your art?
I was 6 years old (1989) when I first had the revelation that art was a job. That was the moment I told my mum I wanted to be an artist when I grow up. When I actually started getting paid to be an artist I was 28. A friend commissioned me to paint his surfboard.
When did you start your entrepreneur journey?
It’s been a journey I sometimes question “should I have put everything on the line to do this.” Nobody told me cashflow ups and downs and Xero reconciling would be a thing. I thought reconciling was something you did with God via a priest when you went to Catholic Church. I first left my full-time graphic designer job in 2013 when Mexi our daughter was 3 and Roman our son was a new born. It’s been 12 years of ‘what am I doing/this is the best thing ever.'
How do you describe your artwork style?
Loose, inspired, flowy, from where I’d rather be.
Have you always done your field of art or was there other types of art that you have done? If so, what types?
Being self employed I always had a downturn in work between Jan and March… then the financial year end would hit and I would fantasise about living at Ahipara off grid in a bus where Mr Tax man would never find me. I was never going to do that so I organically fell into photographing weddings over the summer. I shot a friends wedding and from that wedding booked 3 more in that first season. The next season all their friends broke due and I shot another 12. Year after year I have just continued to shoot weddings every summer. I even got to shoot a wedding at Hamilton Island in Tropical North Queensland. I still shoot weddings and it’s a really great break from taking briefs, sending over concept sketches, revision 1 revision 2, 3 , 5 ,17 etc.
What is the ideal environment for you when creating your artwork?
I work best first thing in the morning. When I am maxed out I try to wake up super early around 5ish. It energises me to have a few hours under my belt before anyone else is even alive. I like working in cafes where other humans are around. I don’t need to talk to them I just need company.
Who is your hero? And why?
My two biggest inspirations are Geoff Mecfetridge and Jeremyville. I started buying Monster Children Magazine while studying design in 2005. I bought an early issue that featured Geoff Mcfetridge and his work resonated with me on such a level. It really spoke to me and I had such a conviction of where I needed to go as an artist. When I lose my way I return to that magazine to remember where it all began.
What values are important to you?
Quality time with family, bringing my kids up to be greater than myself, being a loyal husband, being true to self, never riding a SUP.
Any advice for aspiring NZ artists?
Look to the past to determine your future.
What was the inspiration behind your artwork for your PieceHouse puzzle?
I grew up surfing the beaches north and south of Mangawhai. I started surfing there when the roads were gravel all the way back to state highway 1. I drew this to remember all the good memories I have had there.
What do you do to help keep your mental health in a positive place?
I go to church, have a faith in Jesus. My life’s still a struggle from time to time, it’s all part of growing. But believing in a higher power is the secret to succeeding and being ok when we fail. As artists we will always fail more than we succeed, it’s called developing a concept.
Is there a song that you would love to be on the playlist that goes with your puzzle?
Slice of Heaven, Dave Dobbyn.