Felicity Palmateer otherwise known as flick or floss, has been creating art longer than she has been surfing, and she has been surfing since she was five. Some people look at art but Felicity seems to live in it. Many know her as one of Billabong’s Australian team surfers, or from her beautiful mandala paintings. Like many, I have always found Felicity intriguing, so I reached out to chat about her art, inspirations and her surfing.
The ocean is everything to me. The thing that inspires me the most is that it’s constantly changing and it’s the reason I get up in the morning – to see that.
What was growing up like, did you always draw and paint?
I grew up a beach baby in a town three hours south of Perth – Margaret river. It’s a pretty cruisy/alternative, country, surf lifestyle and I absolutely loved growing up there.
Ever since I can remember from a really young age my parents would take my brothers and I to the beach. My dad’s a surfer and I guess I just wanted to be like my dad. I started surfing around the age of six but I didn’t really start to think that it could become a career/lifestyle until the 12 when I won my first surfing contest.
To be honest I was actually doing art before I was surfing. My dad is an artist and my mum studied fashion design, so art was always encouraged. They have both been really supportive of both careers and I draw a lot of inspiration from both of them.
Did you study art formally or just pick it up?
My parents encouraged my art from a young age. Through school I studied art but since I finished school I haven’t had the time, or really felt like I’ve wanted to go down the path of formally studying it. I really like the fact that I’m a bit of a naive artist in a way. I just go with what feels right and what I think looks good. There’s nothing in my head saying ‘this is the way it should be done or this is how your suppose to do this’.
You draw the most beautiful mandalas. What is it about mandalas that keep you drawing them over and over again?
I got into drawing mandalas and patterns from a pretty young age. If I got bored in school, I would just start doodling and I think a lot of the travelling that I’ve been fortunate enough to do with surfing, has had a massive impact on my type of art. I feel it’s very meditative – 3-5hrs can pass and I feel like its only been 30mins.
How does your surfing influence your art and your art influence your surfing?
I think the two go hand in hand. I don’t think of surfing as ‘sport’, more of a lifestyle and a type of art in a way. The wave is like the canvas and you are the artist. Each person will draw different lines on the wave depending on what they see. Also, I love the fact that no two waves are the same. The ocean is everything to me. It’s one of the reasons that I get up in the morning. I fell in love with the ocean and surfing. I don’t think that there’s ever been a surf that I’ve regretted. You always feel better afterwards. The thing that inspires me the most about the ocean is that it’s constantly changing and it’s the reason I get up in the morning – to see that.
When painting on surfboards, what is your secret?
I love painting on surfboards. I have a bunch of different techniques that I use, usually just use posca pens. To achieve that washed out effect, I use water and smudge it a bit. It took me a while to perfect the technique, I practiced on old boards first. other times I’ll mix it up and use spray paints as well. My favourite thing right now though is getting my original artwork turned into inlays, which get applied during the construction process of making the board – I use inlayz at www.inlayz.net. They’re awesome my art really pops and because it’s a digital file, I can slightly change the colour if I want.
What is the work you are most proud of?
I don’t have one single piece of work that I’m most proud but if I could choose one moment it would be having my first solo exhibition in paddington, Sydney and having all my friends and family there supporting me. A lot of works goes into having an exhibition and by the end of it I felt a massive sense of accomplishment.
As you have the right craft for those conditions you’ll always have a good surf.
You’re an amazing surfer. What was it like surfing the the MASSIVE Cow Bommie?
I grew up surfing powerful waves. Dad used to take me out at Main Break when I was 12. I’ve surfed Waimea, Sunset, big Margarets, but this was obviously a step up from those spots and sessions. It was actually JJ (Ex-Editor of Surfing Life) that convinced me to go in the end. We talked about the worst case scenarios and the best case scenarios. He sorted me a tow board, which was Billy Watson’s and I checked flights. Within a few hours I was on a plane to WA… Plus I’ve always wanted to try tow surfing. I’m from Margaret River, WA, and as you know, it gets a lot of swell so it’s always been something I thought I would do. I was talking to Antman (otherwise known as Paul Paterson, big wave surfer and WA legend), at the start of the year and had asked him to keep me in his thoughts if there was a big swell approaching. He text me two days before on the Tuesday, and said, “Do you want to catch the biggest wave of your life on Friday?” So I jumped at it. And off I went!
Felicity Palmateer talks about surfing the Cow Bomie Western Australia
We see you surf all different kinds of boards from thrusters to single fins. Do you think there is any benefit to surfing different types of surfboards?
I definitely surf all these boards. One of the best things you can do for your surfing is to mix it up. I don’t think that there is such thing as a bad surf. I think as long as you have the right craft for those conditions you’ll always have a good surf.
What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
There is not just one specific piece of advice that I live by but, if there’s one mantra it would be just to live in the moment. I think surfing helps a lot with that. It sound cliché but when you’re in the ocean, nothing else matters. I just focus on what is happening right there and then.
So what is next for Felicity Palmateer?
Surfing is a seasonal sport and by that I mean you can surf every season of the year! There’s always good surf somewhere and I always like to be ready to go. Because of that, the most important thing to me with training is consistency. First and foremost I make sure I eat well and I keep an eye on the waves, daily. So I’m ready to strike mission if the waves look like they’re going to be good somewhere in the world. I’d also love to have another art exhibition at the end of this year/start of next year so that will be taking up a lot of my time too.
Where can we view your art or purchase originals, are you open to commissions?
At the moment you can search my store on Etsy – Felicity Palmateer which has all my current work. But of you were interested in a commission piece you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Felicity Palmateer designs for her sponsors Billabong