How does it feel to win Australia RAW Visual Artist of the Year?

"I was super stoked when I heard the news that I had won RAW Australian Visual Artist of the Year. There are thousands of very talented artists I was up against and to have won, I’m blown away. To win this award is a huge deal for me; it highlights what I’m doing and people are responding positively to my work."

Tell us about your journey as an artist thus far and what's influenced you to arrive where you are today.
"So, I’m not your stereotypical artist. I haven't been to art school or studied art other than in high school. I went to University and studied to become a PDHPE teacher. When I graduated, I decided to completely focus on my art and go for it 110%. For me, the art I create has lots of different meanings behind it. At first glance, you can recognize the traditional Indigenous art style which I paint, as well as the varying canvases I utilize and paint on (surfboard, fins, skateboards etc). Painting allows me to connect my indigenous culture with surf culture, which is very important to me. Whilst my artworks look aesthetically pleasing, they also have an environmental factor, which is addressed through the recycled surfboard and fins I paint on. I have always been creative from a young age and painting allows me to keep that creative fire stoked and burning."

How would you describe your style?
"My style would be best described as traditional Indigenous art infused with surf culture and my own artistic flair. My art style and colour palette incorporates many colours associated with the ocean through varying tones of blues and greens, which are sometimes juxtaposed with reds and yellows."

What/who inspires you creatively?
"I become inspired by a vast number of things: family, friends, culture the sea. The ocean definitely inspires my designs, patterns [and] colour choices. My indigenous culture plays another vital role in inspiring my artwork and the way in which I paint. Other artists, as well as things I see and feel, will often have an impact on how my work turns out." 

What's next on the horizon? 
"I wish to keep pushing myself creatively to craft artworks which are engaging and aesthetically pleasing. I strive to create artworks that are of the highest quality, representing my passion for surfing in conjunction with my Indigenous heritage to ultimately showcase my artistic flair. My ambition is to create and develop works which allow me to grow artistically along with professionally, whilst embracing as many opportunities which come my way."

View more of Zachary Bennett-Brook's work on his web site.