I first got in touch with Paul McNeil several years ago when he contributed some great graphics to the British label ONETrueSaxon. Paul is a talented artist from New Zealand who has transplanted to Byron Bay, a beach town in northern NSW, Australia. In the process of doing a bit of research about Paul’s work, I soon realized that he’s an incredibly talented and prolific individual, supplying amazing artwork for an overwhelming number of projects, brands, labels, and creative endeavors. Paul has done some work for iconic Australian surf brand Mambo, so when I posted about Mambo a few weeks back, I thought I’d get in back in touch for a little interview with Paul, which makes for an excellent excuse to post up some of his amazing graphics…
Where are you today? I’m in my studio in Byron Bay… A couple of Kms from my house and the beach.
What are you working on? New graphics for mambo, some short film titles for a funny little You tube wrestling video (made by Johnny abegg) and overseeing a couple of Sea surfboards as they go through their artistic phase and laying out a chapter of the new SWITCHFOOT book.
Living in Byron Bay seems quite idyllic, does your environment play a big role in your work do you think? Yes, it’s turning out that way. It’s laid back and a small town. Not much happens so I get a lot more time to work on many things. Plus there is only a few things to concentrate on (as opposed to a large city) I guess I’m not going to focus on rainbows and dolphins. Drugs and sharks are more in my line of fire.
As far as your own personal art goes, what have you got on the horizon? I’ve tried to take a year off from Fine art, as I had 2 solo shows last year, BUT I am in a group (surf related) art show in sydney in december this year. I hope to paint several billboards for that. Red, white and black of course.
Besides your fine art, what are the main avenues for people to see or get their hands on your work? Hmmm, I guess the kids books and Munter clothing label.. Plus Sea surfboards and clothing, Love police T shirts and of course Mambo…a couple of videos up on youtube or steal a rock poster from somewhere!
What’s a Munter? Are you Captain Pauly? Is that brand pretty much all you? MUNTER is my and my friend Brian Tarantos clothing label. Its fair to say we are both Munters’ but hard to describe why. I dream it all up, but it comes from our souls… Booze, birds, babes, peel outs, drop ins, drop kicks….
And you mentioned you’ve been working on some books? M is for Metal looks incredible… Yep, m is for metal, and The PUNK ALPHABET and the new country and western one. Things I’m very proud of. My friend Barry Divola and I write them and I fill in the blank pages. They are out through our dear friends at Love Police Publishing. And seem to be doing very well… I’d like to concentrate solely on them, they combine my love of music with funny pictures. They are great to do. I’m also illustrating a kid’s book with Evan Dando (lemonheads) for later this year. It’s out there!
Which surfboard brands have you been designing for? I’ve designed art for quite a few surfboard companies.. Mambo boards, McTavish boards and now the label I’m involved with and to my mind the best boards around (ha!) SEA SURFBOARDS.
What is your favorite recent artwork or graphic? I never tire of the beautiful surfboards we produce. They are so mind blowing once they are all polished up. Highly desirable! We are always dreaming up new surfboards and ideas, its great working with some of the finest craftsmen in the country. I guess the other thing I’m loving at the moment is Mine (and barry divolas) new Kids book. It’s called “the ABC&W” the country and western alphabet. It’s turned out pretty funny I think…
Do you shape surfboards as well as design graphics for them? No I don’t. I have shaped a few blanks into art objects (fun!) but my buddy Dain Thomas is one of the best shapers in the land, and while I am really interested in all the finite details of board design and am surrounded by many shapers up here…theres just no real point in me shaping any.. I’d sooner concentrate on the other bits and leave it to the experts.
What’s your involvement with the Until Never gallery? Until Never gallery is owned by my friends andy mac and Louise… They take care of my artistic needs and dreams in the state of victoria. I’m really glad they invited me into their world. They love art, they love cool art, they are the real deal…plus they like to party.