Five Questions With Thea Skelsey Art

Thea at her debut stall at Finders Keepers Sydney SS19 by Samee Lapham

Debut stallholder Thea Skelsey’s art comes from a place of pure creative freedom. What started as an outlet from the mundane has molded into a loving representation of her coastal home, and distant travels!

Her artwork is designed to create a sense of relaxation and warmth for your homes, through the use of colour and shapes! Thea debuted at Sydney Finders Keepers Dec 6-8 2019.

Can you share your creative journey and how you found yourself beginning a business?

I was a Graphic Designer for 6 years before finally letting go of the traditional, 9-5 job description and giving in to the love of using my hands to create beautiful things. I fought it off for years, secretly painting for my friends, and myself from the confines of my bedroom after a full day in the office. It took another overseas escape and another terrible office job before I made the switch in January this year, to give all my energy to this practice that makes me so happy.

Looking back, it was as though all my past interests were slowly pushing me into this direction, from selling vintage goods at markets, to making tote bags out of funky op shop material. Even though there was no big defining moment, it was still a big decision, as I still love design! But this year has been creatively rewarding, and those design skills help me with my business everyday!

What do you love most about the creative process? Are there any challenges?

I love how randomly inspiration hits. I can be sitting with pen and paper in my hand after hours of walking through art galleries or basking in nature and, while feeling very relaxed and have nothing but scribbles to show for it. Then one out of the blue comment from a friend will send my head whirling with colours and shapes to fill a journal. The challenge is harnessing those moments of inspiration, whether they make sense or not. I carry my journal everywhere just in case.

Tell us about some of the treasured pieces you’ve made for yourself or friends/customers?

This whole style of painting onto material came from a lack of funds and too much time to kill. I was living in Amsterdam and would go to charity stores with a friend where I found old tablecloths, materials and a set of acrylics. I painted a piece for a friend’s birthday that said ‘One smile a day will make you live forever’ with a big sun above it for the terrible weather we were having that winter. The line was taken from a homeless man who turned around to us when we were laughing about something that I hope he didn’t also hear.  

My absolute most treasured piece was for a friend who made a terrible joke about someone mistaking my shoe for an avocado and accidentally eating it.  It’s the size of a wall, painted red on a white tablecloth. These personal memories materialized into art, they are always my favourites!

Where does your inspiration come from and what are you loving, listening and reading at the moment?

My inspiration comes from my home on the Gold Coast, from experiencing other cultures and countries, and from the people around me. I disguise big life lessons as art, as well as simply wanting to capture the feeling of the coast. 

I listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts to keep my mind occupied and my hands-free to paint. Brené Brown and Clementine Ford have held my attention lately. If you know who they are then you know my kind of genre.

Plus lots of dirty three-hour house mixes on Soundcloud to keep me going. 

Thea’s debut stall at Finders Keepers Sydney SS19 by Samee Lapham

What are you most excited about the upcoming Finders Keepers and what can market-goers expect to discover at your debut stall?

I have so many new pieces coming to Finders Keepers Sydney! My first screen-printed piece will be debuting alongside me at this year’s market, printed onto a beautiful hemp/organic cotton flags with the help of a local screen-printer. Plus four other pieces that have never been released online, including some smaller pieces and retro colour pallets.

I could not be more excited to be amongst all the amazing, creative humans that Finders Keepers collects. The skills and creativity these people have are so inspiring! Not to mention being able to come face-to-face with our beautiful customers. It’s always encouraging to see how much support there is for small businesses.

What’s on the spring/summer wishlist at this year’s Finders Keepers for you?

I’ve been eyeing off Ochre for some time now, as well as the gorgeous illustrations from Eggpicnic. I might just have to buy all my Christmas presents here!

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