Get to know our friend Greg
New Zealand artist and illustrator Greg Straight. Renowned for his confident and ‘kiwi cool’ aesthetic, Greg’s nostalgic and retro artworks are recognisable by their bright hues, simple geometric shapes and sense of fun. A keen surfer, Greg’s artwork explores all corners of Aotearoa, capturing quintessential moments in time like summer roadies, riding bikes, hitting the waves and hanging out at the beach.
What is your artist background?
I began my creative journey at Elam School of Fine Arts (majoring in painting) and broadened my skillset into graphic design, which I pursued for 6-years working and living in London. Once back in New Zealand, reconnecting with people and places my strong sense of national pride and interest in Kiwiana prompted a return to my fine art roots.
In 2010, I created a range of limited edition art prints where my signature kiwi flavour emerged and quickly gained momentum. My artworks touch on all corners of New Zealand and show classic memories like summer roadies, riding bikes, surfing, and hanging out at the beach.
What city in New Zealand do you live?
North Shore, Auckland
When did you start doing your art?
I’ve always drawn from a really young age, so as soon as I could hold a pencil I started doodling. It got more serious at High School where art was the only subject I excelled in.
When did you start your entrepreneur journey?
I tried a few things after leaving art school including producing my own range of ceramics with my designs on but the real journey started 10 years ago when my prints became available online and throughout various galleries in New Zealand.
How do you describe your artwork style?
I’m well-known for my vibrant colours and celebrations of the New Zealand's landscapes, culture, and people, often with a nostalgic feel. My style is very graphic with the use of simple geometric shapes, stylised details and a contemporary aesthetic.
Have you always done your field of art or was there other types of art that you have done? If so, what types?
I studied painting at art school and also experimented with printmaking, especially screen-printing. A few years after graduating I enrolled in a one-year Graphic Design course at AUT which then lead into the illustration side of my career.
What is the ideal environment for you when creating your artwork?
I always listen to music while working and creating art. I have a small studio at the back of my gallery which I share with three others, its kind of a creative hub and great for getting feedback on projects. I hope to create some paintings later in the year and I’ll work on that downstairs at home, where there is good space, light and an inspiring outlook.
Who is your hero? And why?
I've admired Dick Frizzell for a long time, he was one of my tutors at Elam School of Fine Arts.
What values are important to you?
Honesty, kindness, manners and being reasonable.
Any advice for aspiring NZ artists?
Where to start! Keep on keeping on, if you want to make a career out of art or design it’s a really hard slog. Stay focused, make goals, keep creating and stay positive.
Be yourself, it’s Ok to be influenced by other creatives but try to be original with ideas and styles. Work hard and be prepared to work evenings and weekends. Get your work out there any way you can and not just on social media, have art shows and collaborate with other creatives.
Listen to art and design podcasts, and talk to people more experienced than yourself.
What was the inspiration behind your artwork for your PieceHouse puzzle?
It’s a celebration of kiwi life featuring NZ landscapes and wildlife and has a connection to the coastlines of New Zealand. The elements are bold and simple and have been drawn in a graphic style emphasising clean lines and geometric shapes.
Greg is the artist that created the Our Backyard puzzle
What do you do to help keep your mental health in a positive place?
I walk about 4kms most mornings with our dog Millie. I also try to surf when I can, this can be a challenge living in Auckland but I definitely get a bit grumpy if I leave it too long between surfs.