Amongst Birds of Prey with Pete Cromer October 27 2021

Pete Cromer is a contemporary Australian artist based in the Colac Otway region of Victoria. Inspired by the optimistic personalities in people and wildlife.

Interview by Jessica Steger. Photos supplied by Pete Cromer.

We are thrilled to have you exhibit with us this October at Outré Gallery Fitzroy! Tell us about your chosen theme for this upcoming exhibition? What wild and wonderful creatures can fans expect to see?

Thanks for having me Outré x. My previous work has focused on the colourful & vibrant birds of Australia, and for this collection of artworks I am bringing to attention the marvellous birds of prey we have here in this country. There are many beautiful birds of prey including owls, eagles, kites and falcons.

Were you set on becoming an artist from an early age or did you imagine other career paths for yourself?

Yes! From a very early age I've always been drawing and creating and always wanting to be an artist. Whilst my twin was playing football, I was always drawing, colouring or sketching. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that this became a full time career, having been told by teachers that I would always be poor and wasting my time being an artist. Not the best advice I have even been given. I detoured into graphic design initially but my heart has always been in creative art.

From magical druids to beloved budgies and endearing marbled wombats—what's next? Can we expect to see a new lovable resin critter in the near future?

Yes, there will be more resin creatures!  What will they be? Who knows... There is a lot in my head that needs to get out, gah! I feel like I need more time. I will also be experimenting in other materials besides resin, materials like metals and porcelain.

Tell us a little about your creative and developmental process working with resin. Any mad scientist experimental disasters you may have had along the way?

Lol, there has been lots of experimental disasters. One time I used a water-based dye (because I liked the colour) and it reacted with the resin causing it to swell, bubble and expand destroying the mold completely. I like to experiment, to work out how things tick.

Living in the beautiful Otway's coastal region of Victoria, is there a certain place you like to go to for inspiration?

Currently with the lockdowns, I don't have to go further than my front window which overlooks Lake Colac. So lucky. Daily I see galahs, pelicans, fairy wrens, magpies, swamphens, rainbow lorikeets and I am pretty sure, from what others say, a black-shouldered kite (I just can't get close enough to identify it)! Living in the south west Victorian region, there are loads of marvellous parks and state forests I use for inspiration. The Otways is magical.

When not in the studio creating, what are some of your favourite things to do? Any surprising hobbies that we don't know about?

Outside of creating I enjoy the gym/weightlifting, food, video games - RPGs and Pokemon, go for bushwalks, and I like to collect Fighting Fantasy Novels.

Do you have any daily rituals to help keep the creative juices flowing? 

Not really. A morning coffee is about as ritual as I get. Creatively, ideas do get stuck in my head until I explore them. Not everything works but I have to at least see. I think the exploration of ideas fuels its inspiration.

What message, if any, do you hope to convey throughout your work?

To bring attention and celebrate the wonderful animals that we have in nature. There are many unique and inspiring critters in the world. I also want to show how the simple arrangement of colour, shape and texture can create and evoke feelings of wonder and connections with the viewer.

What would be a dream project to work on or something you've been looking to experiment with further?

Whilst I enjoy collaborating with other businesses, personally I would like more time to work on those ideas that I still have in my head. Like I mentioned previously, I am experimenting with new materials.

For any budding artists out there, what is the best piece of artistic advice you've been given? Or do you have any words of wisdom of your own to share?

My dad has always said, "You are dead for a very long time." It's great advice to not sit there and hope that things happen. Back yourself, don't be scared of failure, get experience and ask heaps of questions (for all areas). Life's a bit short not to give things a crack! #noregrets (Haha!)

Thank you so much for your time, Pete!