NICK BUTTFIELD - ARTIST
I grew up in suburban Adelaide, surrounded by family and the beach and, what appeared at the time, to be a BIG city. Looking back, it was idyllic and happy... but those rear vision goggles are rose-coloured. I'm sure it had its moments and years of long bus rides broken up by fantasy novels and avoiding tuff kids have been happily placed away in dark and well- locked cupboards. But I remember it very fondly now.
After school I studied various things on and off; mad little forays into life-changing courses that didn't really change anything. Work-wise, apart from a short stint in retail, most of my work has been in hospitality; hotels, bars, nightclubs,restaurants and cafes, and some work with catering firms. I worked as a freelance illustrator for about six years in Melbourne. I had good and bad years, volume wise, and in the end, when our first daughter came along, it was full time work in hospitality to keep the wolf from the door.
I always loved drawing characters from comic books (Snoopy, Garfield, Conan, Groo etc.) My sister would run drawing competitions from her room for prizes. And we'd play Dungeons and Dragons (nerds) so I would draw lots of fantasy stuff. I remember painting a 4ft Ghostbusters symbol on my wall in '84, and I had a teacher in year seven who would give you the 'special' homework book if you had the neatest work that day, and you got to draw a picture in that. I wanted that book so damned bad.
We moved to Castlemaine from Hawthorn in 2004. We wanted space and affordable housing that wasn't knee deep in the squalor of sprawling suburban Melbourne. Castlemaine seemed the best option and we liked the surrounds. We liked the big open spaces so close to town, the small town feel and being away from the city and the noise. It's certainly busier than when we arrived, especially noticeable in hospitality. When I first got here I was worked in Daylesford, which was busy Friday to Sunday. When I moved closer to home for work, it was much quieter; busy on weekends but not like it is now. I remember it being a lot quieter Monday to Friday.
I usually draw late at night when the world has quietened down, or on my days off when I can find the inspiration and ignore the housework. I'm inspired by a lot of different things; money, if I'm thinking, 'Hey I could make money illustrating again' , beautiful things (art/photography/sculpture/poetry/books/movies) or the right mood, because sometimes just sitting with sheets of paper and pencils and coffee cups and wine glasses and moonlight and stillness makes me feel quiet and alone and somehow more connected to 'it' - whatever the heck 'it' is.
Not many people see my work, though more these days because of Instagram. The little hearts, though obscure, make me feel they have enjoyed something I have done. My publishers back in the day always came back for more and that was comforting. And the little scribbles of friends and colleagues seem to elicit a smile or two. As a creative person I always see the flaws and probably don't really take the time to listen to the nice things people say about my work.
Artists whose work I admire: Alphonse Mucha, John William Waterhouse, Howard Pyle, pretty much every Pre-Raphaelite, Alan Lee, Brian Froud, Frank Frazetta, Arthur Rackham, Miyazaki, Kelsey Beckett, James Jean, Audrey Kawasaki, Shaun Tan, Tara McPherson, Tracy Lewis, Mark Ryden, Adam Hughes, Joy Ang, Tom Bagshaw, ... this list could go on forever.
Future plans involve prying myself away from the vice-like grasp of hospitality and returning to illustrating and creating art as a way of life. I'd like to learn to paint. I'd like to write stories and draw pictures for them. I'd like to turn the little moments of happily lost in creating into years of lost and eventually eternally lost. I'd like to move to the ocean... I'd like to stop procrastinating.
Favourite things to do in the area: Picnics at the cascades, bush walks along old creek beds, randomly kicking rocks and wondering if that shiny thing was worth closer inspection. Flying a kite, playing with the kids, having a coffee.
Tips for anyone thinking of moving out here: It has just about everything you could want, except a beach within a quick jump in the car and drive. It's as friendly or as isolating a town as you want it to be. Temperature extremes are common discussions at all times of the year, but at least that can give you a conversation starter.