G’day Steven! Nice to finally chat with you. Can you introduce yourself?
Si. Hola amigos! Yes, I’m Steven, or Esteban in Spanish.
I’m a mural artist/artist and have been following my dream for over three decades where I’ve explored a variety of styles through different materials and mediums.
From my love of surfing, nature and the emotional and evocative rhythms of the dance, singing and guitar of Spanish flamenco, to travelling all over the world and being inspired by the art and architecture of many cultures and peoples both modern and historical.
I’ve developed and painted a multitude of dynamic and inspirational artworks and large format murals. Not only here on the Sunshine Coast, but also for private commissions in my various styles from Hawaii to England, Scotland, Canada, the United States and to my favourite place, Spain.
I’ve lived most of my life here in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, But also call Jerez de la Frontera in Southern Spain our second home as we also love our ‘Vida Española’ (Spanish life) over there and try to return as often as possible. OLE!
Having grown up in Caloundra with beaches all around us, I feel so blessed and grateful to have had surfing as a big part of my life.
Caloundra is an amazing spot. Absolutely spoiled for waves! Back to your art though. Can you tell us how it all started?
I’ve always loved being creative and I discovered my happy place through art. I’ve been fortunate enough to have landed jobs throughout my working life as an artist so it’s always been part of what I do.
I was lucky enough to make connections with like minded people that steered me into the direction I wanted to pursue as an artist, which has since taken me all over the world and to where I am now in this moment as a person that is SO happy and SO fulfilled in doing what he loves.
Being creative. Spreading colour. And making connections with lovely people and producing art and murals like the one I’ve produced for your Beach Showers.
And what inspired you to go down the muralist path?
I was working as a graphic designer for many years and always dreamt of using my hands again and getting all painty (instead of tapping a keyboard and clicking a mouse) and producing artwork on a larger scale other than an A4 piece of paper.
I began my mural work way back in the mid 1990s, but back in 2001, I produced a mural that covered the whole interior and facade of a local Caloundra Italian restaurant at the time. That gave me the confidence and rewarding satisfaction that I was searching for. So I jumped in the deep end with brushes, rollers and painty pants and started spreading colour about the place.
Love it. Do you have a creative process when creating these murals?
I actually do. It begins with a brief from my client. Then, I grab my surfboard and have a “board meeting” to find inspiration (usually a sneaky left hander at Spot X… sorry, can’t tell you where).
I find that with mural work there are so many components that bring them all together to become reality. Preparation, size, style, colours and story. How it’s viewed and from how far depending on dimensions and visual impact I am trying to portray. I begin with sketches and thoughts, concepts and approvals that then are transposed onto the surface to begin the painting process.
Then I get lost in it all. Such a fulfilling feeling!
Haha we often have board meetings too *wink, wink*. So which famous artists have influenced your style? And how would you describe your style?
Mmmm. I would say my style is… MY style.
So a little unique and just me. I’m probably known for my vibrant, dynamic, cubism style.
My art is quite often referred to as Mambo-ish or Picasso-esque. Although, to be honest, I also paint a variety of styles from abstract to realism, surf art, trompe le oil and whatever just ‘comes out’ or what I’m feeling at the time.
And what’s the most rewarding part of painting murals?
There’s quite a lot involved and many steps to produce a mural where each step brings a new level of accomplishment. But once completed, it’s VERY rewarding to stand back and see something you’ve seen in your mind become a reality.
How do you want people to feel when they see your work?
I aim to inspire creative expression and a sense of shared humanity through my art.
Many of my works explore the interconnectedness of individuals and community through figurative work that reinforces both personal and community-oriented identity… much like my artwork for Beach Souls ‘Livin’ The Dream’ Beach Shower artwork!
What about the dreaded creative blocks? How do you handle these?
Haha! Maybe by paddling out at Spot X?
I actually find inspiration for getting over any hurdles in many things in numerous ways. From being out in the surf to mowing the lawn and washing my van. My brain keeps ticking while I keep moving then WHAMMO! Ideas and inspiration come flooding through.
Definitely keeping the brain occupied on other not-so-strenuous tasks helps with creative blocks. Can you talk a bit about the role of colour in your work?
Well, I LOVE colour. And like using combinations of blends with reds, golds, yellows and whites to enhance and give a brighter and more dynamic, less flat feel with my art. Although, I do sneak in a bit of royal blue and white stripes in most of my works as I’m a massive one-eyed North Melbourne Football Club supporter. Like a ‘Where’s Wally’ but in blue and white.
Haha we didn’t know that. How cool! What’s the biggest mural you’ve ever created? How long did it take?
Well, I’ve produced a few HUGE murals over the 30 years. Did I really say 30? WHAT?
For example, I recently painted, with the help from my eldest son Isaac, the new Beach Tree Distillery building in Caloundra. I also did the Production House building for Moffat Beach Brewing Company.
The longest murals would be a 112m long mural on a corner opposite the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and an 82m long mural for the Baringa State School. Both took around one to two months to complete.
You can check out some of my other murals and artwork on my Instagram page!
These are amazing. Did you ever win any awards for your murals? Because they definitely look award-worthy haha.
Yes, I was nominated as a finalist for the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards for a vibrant and colourful mural I painted at the Maroochydore Homemaker Centre.
Also, I received an Australia Day Creative Arts Award for my various murals and artwork I’ve produced around the Sunshine Coast that was such an honour even to be considered.
Do you have any famous murals or muralists that you admire?
Oh, I have MANY from all OVER the world and here in Australia.
I’ve seen and discovered many mural works while back in Spain that give me enormous inspiration for what I do, although at the moment, my favourite artists would be Enrique Pichardo, an artist from Mexico, and Liz Flores from Chicago. I love their particular styles.
Also, there’s an Australian duo called Jack and Josh who paint fantastic murals in a unique and VERY cool style.
We’re so happy with our Livin’ The Dream cover design. How long does it take you to create a design like that?
After talking to you guys about what you want portrayed in the artwork, I spent around a week or so coming up with a design that encompassed our ideas with a story that shows how lucky we are to live where we do and all that comes with it.
We definitely are Livin’ The Dream, from sun and surf, bikini beach babes, beaches and babies. Gold Coast high rises to Mount Warning. Cricket on the beach, skateboarding, snags on the barbie and washing your board, baby and puppy with the Beach Shower.
I’ve even paid homage to Luis being from Portugal with a surfer on the huge wave at Nazare! All in all, it was such a fun piece of art that I was so pleased to be asked to put together.
We agree. And we had such a great experience working with you. Did you enjoy the whole process too?
The whole process has been wonderful! I instantly resonated with you guys when we first talked about developing a cover design for your fantastic Beach Showers.
The years of having blue lips and numb feet after a winter surf are now OVER! I thought, “What a GREAT idea”! So useful and fun. It’s such a good product and I am SO proud to have my artwork wrapped around it.
Stoked, Steven. We can’t believe how good it looks. Reckon you have some advice for up and coming muralists or artists who want to create similar pieces?
For any artists and creatives out there, my advice is that we’re all wonderful creative beings with a wonderful gift. You’re all unique. And your art shows it.
Art is an experience of the visual and the emotional, and a unique interpretation of how it’s felt personally and of how YOU portray the way YOU see your art through YOUR eyes, which is a feeling that only you can hold with your heart.
You have to be good. You have to be tenacious about it. And you have to be lucky. That’s the hat-trick. You need all of those things and you’ll find that the more you work on it, the luckier you’ll get. Funny how that works out sometimes…
So yes. Believe in yourself. Follow your heart. By the ticket. Take the ride.
Well bloody said! Thanks for your time, Steven. All the best.