An Afternoon With Artist Nanda Ormond.
Nanda Ormond is a super interesting cat… and an even more interesting artist. As resident illustrator for both Surfing World and Rhythm he’s spent years honing his craft in the fast paced surf industry. In honour of our exclusive Rhythm Australiana Collection, we caught up with Nanda to find out what makes him tick.
G’day Nanda. Thanks for Chatting to us mate.
Hey no worries bro, it’s nice to chat.
Let’s start at the beginning. When did you first fall in love with art?
I don’t know if I’m “in love” with art. I feel like the word ” love ” gets thrown around a lot. Love is an exchange between two entities… a relationship. I don’t think people can love things or ideas, that’s just attraction or even obsession. I was attracted to art, or more specifically cartoons, from as early as I can remember. I had a head full of stories and characters and couldn’t wait til I was good enough at drawing to put them all down on paper.
Your style is super different, what would you call it?
I usually refer to my style deprecatingly as “Squiggly” .
Haha! where do you think it originated? Who inspired it?
It’s a fairly intentional amalgamation of a few of my most favourite artists and illustrators, as I have discovered them. So you can see very distinct and sudden changes in my style as I was introduced to certain influences and artists. I never felt like I had an innate style that would flow out of me, pure and inspired from some unique creative wellspring, I was always just trying to draw like whoever I liked the most at the time. I used to get kinda bummed out by this, it made me feel like a bit of a fraud. Then as I got older and looked more closely at the way things work I realised that almost everyone goes through that stage, even the most prominent extroverts in art history were influenced by their predecessors. The main three influences that I have attempted to integrate in my own style are probably the satirical British illustrators of the post-war era catalysed by Ronald Searle, 80’s Japanese comic and video-game art, and more contemporary European comic art, specifically the Belgian illustrator Sam Vanallemeersch. More recently I have been really getting into 70’s psychedelic and sci-fi art, and the Tibetan Buddhist style of Thangka painting. These two influences are encouraging me to introduce more colour to my work (which my mum is happy about).
And you’re one of the major contributors of illustrations for Surfing World. How did that come about?
My younger brother Rangi was surfing around Australia and the world, establishing a network of people who liked him and let him stay at their houses. So I followed him over to Australia and was introduced to everyone “Rangi’s brother”. A portrait I painted of Rangi was entered in to Surfing Worlds first and only “Worthies surf portraiture exhibition” where I believe it won runner up prize. I had already done one or two caricatures for Surfing World before leaving NZ, as their regular caricaturist had recently left, so they gave me a few issues worth of caricatures to do and let me stay on different couches around the Northern Beaches. As my work slowly improved I believe they offered me more opportunities within the mag to try different illustrations, which seems to be a continuing process til this day. Last year I was invited to illustrate the cover, which was a highlight for me. It was a terribly stressful and daunting undertaking but I am still pretty stoked with the outcome.
And you’ve been working a bit for Rhythm, Tell me about that!
Yeah I started working with Rhythm a while back, I think because I had a studio out the back of the Sunhouse cafe/boardshop that Marc and Jake would sometimes visit, maybe they felt sorry for me sweating out there, or maybe they liked my beard. However it happened I ended up making some animations for a boardshort release they did a while back. They were all unique, fun little projects, I wanted each one to be a totally different technique to give each short a strong identity, but also so I wouldn’t burn out over the 10 weeks I had to do it. The Julian Trunk animation I did made it in to the regional gallery as part of a surf art show they were doing, I had all 120 drawing frames up on the wall, I think kids liked it. The gallery assistant who had to pin them up didn’t, I met him, he told me.
More recently I made the animation for the Australiana Collection Rhythm did with you guys, with Surf Stitch. It’s kind of in two parts, there’s an intro where I 2.5D manipulated some drawings that incorporated some of the prints in the collection, then it jumps in to kind of cheap Roger Rabbit style animation over a really nice wave of Asher Pacey surfing. He really does it all on that wave, I watched him surf it hundreds of times and never got sick of it.
It’s clear that surfing is the inspiration behind a lot of your art, does it play a big role in your life/the lives of people around you?
Surfing is a huge inspiration, a beautiful thing and a real gift to my life. It has kept me much closer to health and sanity than I would have been without it, and it has introduced me to nearly all of my best friends. Surfing is such a dynamic and multi-faceted pastime, in my mind it’s hardly comparable to any other sport. That said, i’m not sure that surfing is as much of an inspiration on my art as people might think. That is to say, my style of art is not exceptionally unique, but the application to Surf Art is, it seems.
Maybe the reason people think my work is unique is that there are not many other illustrators coming to the surf-art scene from the same angle as me, but in the comics and illustration world that I am familiar with I am just a tiny fish in a very big sea. I actually consciously try and steer clear of what many people might expect surf art to look like, and pay very little attention to what other surf-artists are making. Apart from Tony Edwards who created Captain Goodvibes, there are very few surf artists whose work I am attracted to, and even some whose work I find quite repulsive. Obviously the content of my work is focused on surfing, because I am employed regularly by a surf magazine and my clients mostly fall within the surfing scene/industry, but I like to think that if applied to any other subject my work would still be relevant and “inspired”.
Where are you based at the moment?
I’m based back in my hometown of Whangamata NZ, working from a small cottage on my parents property out of town in the Wentworth Valley. It’s as close as I’ve ever been to my idyllic studio setup, with natural light and nature all around me.
What’s next for Nanda Ormond?
I’m planning on spending the winter here, which will be the first in NZ for a long time. Hopefully the long, sodden, winter will allow me to totally nerd out and finish some personal projects and read a few books. We have a fire in the main house, and reading in front of a fire has been a great interest of mine since I was young. On the Gold Coast in Aus where I’ve been living, it’s practically an endless summer all year long, so there were always activities beckoning me outside. A NZ winter should solve that.
See More from the Rhythm Australiana Collection