with Taylor Faulkner
words by Elisa Routa
“I’m a little awkward around people. When I draw though, that’s where I feel most natural and uninhibited by anything.”
“I’m a little awkward around people. I love people, I just have a hard time putting words together and I’m a little embarrassed about that.” That’s without a doubt what made me want to learn more about Taylor Faulkner. In a recent interview, she described drawing as a way that allowed her to be around people without the complexity of an interaction. “When I draw though, that’s where I feel most natural and uninhibited by anything. I’ve been able to use art as a tool to get out what’s in my head, and hopefully create something beautiful but also a little strange.” The South Carolina-based visual artist and surfer has a special long-term relationship with drawing, and more generally with art. In the arts, Taylor found a new way of approaching surfing, and vice versa. We reached out to her to find out more about her love for water, and the element that helped her shape the concept of the movement present in most of her artworks.
“I think the movements of nature are emulated in our own movements.”
Movement /ˈmuːvm(ə)nt/. From Latin movere, ‘to move .’ Taylor Faulkner grew up moving around a lot. Before landing in Charleston, she traveled from Washington State to South Carolina, to Belgium, then back to the south. “When I realized it could be an adventure, I treated it as such. I’ve always loved to explore, and I think that made the moves more exciting.” For Tay, exploration allows the idea of movement, whether it is her own movement or the surrounding nature. “Nature is so important to me. I think the movements of nature are emulated in our own movements. I’m not much of a landscape artist, but I try to capture movements in people, and I think our natural environment definitely lends to that.” That’s why surf dynamics have caught her attention both as a surfer and as an artist. Surfing is about a surfer in motion catching a wave, surrounded by a natural environment – water – itself in motion.
Taylor’s artworks are not about speed but movement. Her drawings are not about skills but style. “That’s what I love to capture most; the subtle hand movements, the intentional placement of the feet. Beautiful stuff.“ Although Taylor Faulkner is known for her characteristic use of realistic details, she also likes “blurring those details.” She nuances her aesthetic approach, defining her work as “meticulous with a side of whimsy.”
Tay got into surfing at the age of 17. From day one, longboarding literally blew her mind. “I’ve honestly viewed it as an art form before a sport — the flow of a longboarder on a wave, letting the wave move them in the most epic dance. My love for fins fits into the movement aspect as well. It’s amazing that these different shapes can lend so much to a specific board and wave type. Sculpting my own mini fins felt like an ode to the precision of what a fin can do. Sculpting provides a nice break from drawing, but I think the detailing goes hand in hand.”
“Water is one of the most beautiful and unforgiving elements. I love that water makes you work for it’s love.”
In canvas after canvas, Taylor depicts mini fins and characters marked with contoured figures who appear like colorful sketches. The presence of colors in her body of work is pretty recent though, and definitely represents the major strand in Faulkner’s evolution as an artist. “Color has been a bit of a challenge for me, it’s like the math of art. Maybe some artists don’t see it that way, but it’s pretty complicated to get the right colors and the juxtaposition of the colors onto one piece of paper. I used one purple crayon for years as a kid. The teachers would want me to use more color, but I just didn’t like it.” Now, Tay has found a love for it, “but I still like a dark charcoal undertone to my pieces. It calms me down. I love getting a little whimsical, but kind of in a dark way if that makes sense.”
When she’s not working at the studio playing with oils and pastels, Taylor works on an organic vegetable farm 3-4 days a week on Johns Island, called Spade and Clover. “Being outside and physical labor really helps recharge my mind for my art practice. I also love that I am always surrounded by water. If I’m not working, I’m on the beach surfing, body surfing, or on the creeks and riverways kayaking. I am so lucky to be water-locked. I couldn’t live without water” she explains. Even if there are no real point breaks like the West coast, Tay doesn’t go a week without getting in some form of it. “Water is one of the most beautiful and unforgiving elements. You could have the calmest day, and then boom, you’re swept down the beach in seconds having to lug your board back up the beach. I love that water makes you work for its love. We should work for its love! It’s most of our planet!”
“I’m part of a really amazing artist & surf community that actually gives a fuck, and is there for one another, and our little city.”
When we think of a surf destination, we surprisingly don’t think of South Carolina. However, there are not only good waves on the east coast but a community with no ego. “We rely mostly on that wind. August through October is our golden window. Those tropical storms and hurricanes give us some nice little gifts. We definitely work for our waves,” Tay explains before paying tribute to her local community. Please take notes. “It’s so laid back here, but at the same time, I’m part of a really amazing artist & surf community that actually gives a fuck, and is there for one another and our little city. Most of the surfers I know are also artists here, and they are so open about their processes and sharing what they know. I’m insanely thankful for them. I’m thankful for our surfers who respect and love the ocean. It’s a respect we try to share with others, and I hope that we can keep that growing.”
In September, Taylor Faulkner will be a part of a group show called ‘Water Show’ in September, alongside surfers and artists, described as a collection of pieces showcasing surfing as well as an ode to the water. As the recent winner of Low Country Artist of the Year, Tay is also currently working on a show for the Coastal Community Foundation. “That show will take place on January 8th at Hed Hi Media’s studio in downtown Charleston. I’ll be creating works inspired by surfing in the low country, high lighting Charleston(SC), Wilmington(NC), Pawley’s Isl.(SC) and Tybee Isl.(GA).”