Artist Interview: Greg Straight, Illustrator

 Greg Straight Art Print

Greg Straight is not only one of New Zealand’s most prolific illustrators, he’s also one of our favourite dudes. His art prints and illustration work reflect his personality – stylish, but with a down-to-earth Kiwi vibe. From his awesome home studio, Greg designs, draws, doodles and is a Dad. (All the D’s!)

We spoke to him about his new children’s book, his plans for upcoming work and his plans for summer…

Greg Straight Art Screenprint

Greg Straight

You have your own kid’s book coming out soon!
Can you tell us a little more about the book and how it all came about?  

Sure. Its called ‘While you are Sleeping’ and is written by Melinda Szymanik and illustrated by myself. It’s all about what happens around the world when kids are asleep.

It’s been a dream for quite sometime to work on a children’s book and I am stoked with how it’s turned out. It happened quite randomly, my wife discovered that our daughter’s teacher last year is married to a publisher David Ling (Duck Creek Press) and they were looking for an illustrator for this book, my wife said that she knew just the man for the job!

I submitted some drawing and it went from there.  Everything in the book began life on paper, as a rough sketch then arranged and coloured up on the computer in illustrator.

Many, many, many late nights were spent working on this one. Did I mention many?

Prints, t-shirts, magazine covers, commissioned work for major brands and cool products… what’s next for Greg Straight?  
An early night perhaps? Just kidding, I am working towards a joint show with Annie Smits Sandano in November at Momentum Gallery, so more limited edition art prints. I want to expand on nationwide stockists of my work and produce a print catalogue. Hannah and I are looking at starting our own range of homeware, I have plans for a calendar, greeting cards and another book.
I’m also aiming to bag a European agent so I can start getting international clients. Also in the pipeline I have designer lamp shades, wallpaper and a line of kids-wear collaboration.

No mistaking Greg’s bold style on the cover of a recent Remix magazine. 

What’s been your most favourite illustration project to date, and why?  
I’d have to say my favourite is probably the artist tin I just did for Chelsea released in supermarkets nationwide this month. The artwork wraps around the tin and is a celebration of New Zealand culture with my name and signature on the front and side. There is also an art print coming out shortly to go with it.

2013 has been a super exciting year, working on a wide range of projects including stationery for Whitcoulls, illustrations for The Edge’s Ice rink in Aotea Square, artwork for Matua Wine that will be seen internationally on point of sale and advertising, the children’s book and the Remix cover were a real buzz too.

The best projects are the ones that you get to be yourself and encouraged to go nuts to create something unique.

Greg’s special collector’s edition Chelsea Golden Syrup Tin – gotta buy one for the pantry!

Greg’s graphics for Matua wines

What’s one thing you couldn’t do without while you’re creating?  

Music. If I don’t have music, it’s just click, click, click, (one click closer to RSI).  I listen to lots of different types of music from old dancehall reggae to indie, punk, hip hop, new wave, ska, and a bit of George FM, to say its eclectic is an understatement.

I am also a sucker for a 2.30pm chocolate bar, salty snacks like pretzels and a cold beer when you are working through the night. But not too many beers though, as it can lead to starring blankly at the screen and falling asleep on the keyboard. Zzzzzz…

Greg Straight Screen Print

A number of Greg’s art prints are screenprinted, by hand, in his home studio

Who would you love to work with?
How incredible would it be to do something for Mini Cooper? Like a big artwork on the side of a car! Or shoes for Vans, tee prints for Mambo … I’d love to create an illustration for someone HUGE like Vodafone or Coke, like a big global campaign, Boom!   On a local level, Splore would be a good one. An amazing event and I reckon you could go nuts with it. I recently saw Fly My Pretties, creating an illustration for them for posters and album covers would be cool too. When I think about it its still pretty endless.

Greg Straight Art

Greg’s graphic design on tote bags and t-shirts

Besides art and design, what else do you love to do?
I love surfing and skateboarding. It would be a dream come true to surf every day and still have enough money to pay all the bills. I love hanging out with my wife Hannah and children Chloe 7 and Leo 3. It’s pretty full on at times but I love heading down the beach with them and taking Leo to the park to ride his new bike and going on bear hunts. I love eating great food too. Japanese, Mexican and Mediterranean. I also really love not working some days! Oh and drinking beer.

Greg’s buddies, Leo and Chloe.

We love your new summer-themed art prints on endemic – where’s your favourite place in NZ to visit in summer time, and what do you do there?  
Thanks, these are a little different from my usual prints and are just the beginning, I’m planning to release a whole lot more in this style over the coming months.  I love the beach, East or West when the surf’s pumping. Somewhere like Hot Water beach in the Coromandel (where I used to do loads of surf trips with my mates) is still up there for me, even with the camp ground gone and hundreds of tourists its still a magic place. Also a few spots in New Plymouth, Fitzroy and around the coast are pretty dear to my heart and bring back some great memories of sun, sand and surf. Is it summer yet?

Greg Straight Summer Surfing


Check out Greg’s brand new website here,
or shop Greg Straight art prints over at endemicworld.

Photography with thanks to Jono Parker. 

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