While visiting our beautiful Eurolands, we’ve caught up with US surfer and artist Karlee Mackie, to get the lowdown on her perfect live as a freesurfer for Rusty. Caution – this may tackle acute wanderlust!

Interview by Anna Langer

You’re a sponsored free surfer – can you explain what that’s like and what it involves exactly?
Surfing has evolved so it can now nurture the less competitive types of people, basically I get paid to represent the companies and their vibe by surfing and living the beach lifestyle, also that has now emerged with my love for art ….so I’m really stoked!!!!

What are you up to at the moment?
I am just about to head to California, to show in an exhibition for Aerial 7 at Laguna beach AR4T Gallery, with Drew Brophy which will be amazing and I’m looking forward to some waves as I have been in UK for 2 months painting…

Have you always been into art?
In a way I guess so. It’s always been around as my dad is a great artist, and my lil bro loves drawing too, so I have always drawn, but I’ve had flux’s of being into it and then times where I’m not bothered. In the last year or so it’s been more on the forefront of what I have been up to and I have been painting a lot, so I am really enjoying it for a change! I also had some great opportunities, of hanging out with some established artist and assisting Angus Mcdonald.

How would you describe your style?
It’s evolving, I really am so inspired by so many artists I find on the web, as I have never bothered looking for inspiration. I always loved Basquiat, but now I have a list of amazing artist, it starts from realism, to abstract and street art! So I’m touching on mixing it up with those three…

Where do you get inspiration for your art from?
I find images I see, and also movies I find trigger the flow of creative juices… But peoples’ styles really inspire me, and also words. I love writing, and reading phrases that just capture you and give you a new realisation, a different perception on certain ways of living, thinking is so huge and effects you in many ways, it’s interesting to mix up your perceptions and I love that you get this from some peoples art… No words, just an image that makes you go ‘wow’!!!

There’s quite a big art scene in surfing (especially compared to other sports), why do you think that is?
Yeah I guess so, surfing is such a beautiful expression, it has so many dimensions of expression and feelings, and is totally emerged in nature and the elements. It is only natural you want to paint, sing or use another means of expressing what you get from it!!! It’s definitely a connection, the free flow of a board, a brush, a pen or the strum of a guitar seem to have the same essence and projects your soul or personality… The surfing world these days to me seems a mecca for honing the spirit of the free thinker and all that compiles along with it.

If you had to give up one of the two – what would you keep?
Ahh an ultimatum…haha!!! Hmm… I love the ocean so much I couldn’t live with out it, but I love them both individually for what I get from them, is there allowances? Like if I gave up surfing to paint could I still swim in the ocean, cause I reckon that’s the direction I would head…???

We’ll think about that… But even without giving up surfing, you’re already designing for Rusty…?
I have only done a few designs for them, just a few sketches, all part in parcel.

In your role you get to travel a lot – what’s your favourite place of all?
Well, the last few years have taken a big halt, I guess I got a little burnt out, but as of the last year or so, I have a new found spark ignited for it all again, and my art work has been great for this… I know the surfing world back to front, and it’s been ten years for me, so a change was a natural turn that had to take place for me, and I’m excited learning about the art world and all the new faces in it!!! So I used to travel loads surfing, but for now, its more for my art… But the funnest surf spot still has to be home, I love the pass at Byron Bay when it’s on, all your mates are there and its absolutely beautiful, but for somewhere overseas, i loved the experience that Jamaica had opened me up to, and it was with a great bunch of mates!!!

What’s up next for you?
I’ll be in the UK for while, painting and drawing, traveling around Europe and the UK with my boyfriend, wake skating and surfing where I can of course. It’s my first time living overseas so I’m keen to make the most of it and see as much of this side of the world as I can!!! I have a few projects in the pipeline as well so who knows, your guess is as good as mine, which I like, not much planned but having a good time!!!

Watch her live in action painting the Rusty HQs in Oz!!




I have never commented on a site like this but I am clpleoed to do so here. I am a 54 year old surfer that lives in Irvine Ca. I started surfing in the 70 s. My heros were not football or baseball players they were Gerry Lopez, Rory Russel, BK, Jeff Hackmak, Rabbit, Shuan Tompson, etc. I taught my kids and all their friends to surf. We would go every weekend from the time they were little. Almost all vacations involved surfing. When I heard that Andy Irons had passed I was really hit by it. So why would a 50 year old out of shape has been really feel this loss? I know its cliche but the surf world is really so small. Which is why I am sharing this story I was in Kauai in the summer of 2004 or 2005 not sure exactly. I do know Andy Irons was the World Champ at the time. An unusual swell hit the north shore of Kauai in August and I happend to be at Pinetrees with my family. The surf was head high plus really good. Other than the surfers in the water we were pretty much the only people on the beach we were just going to surf for a while and hang out. My son was 11 or 12 at the time and spotted the board first with all the sponsorship stickers and then the signature black and white plad Billabong trunks running across the beach toward the water. It was Andy Irons running right by on his way to the water. (My son and I went out and bought those trunks the next day still have them.) My son was beyond stoked. He idolized Andy Irons, still does. He is 20 years old now and was in Kauai when Andy passed he called to tell me the news. He was devistated. The only thing I can really compare it to was how I felt when I heard John Lennon had died. Anyway back to the story My son got to paddel out that day and hang out in the water with his hero for a few hours even caught a few waves. He was so excited he stayed in the water until Andy got out. We got to sit on the beach by ourselves and watch Andy Irons put on a clinic. No big camera lenses around no crowds just Andy Irons and a bunch of other guys out in head high surf in the afternoon ripping it up with the Druary family sitting on the beach. It is one of my favorite life moments. Still have the photos we took that day. My son and daughter still talk about it. We surf at Trestles alot so seeing the pros out in the water is pretty common but us regular dudes don't end up in the water with guys like Andy Irons often. Some would think this is kind of silly but anyone who surfs knows how cool this was for me and my kids. Andy Irons never even knew we were there or that he had any impact on these folks from California that just happend to be lucky enough to be in a right spot at a right time. My guess is that there are a million stories out there just like mine people saying yea remember when we saw him or meet him etc. He will be greatly missed by the surfing community and I am sure by the people like you guys that were lucky enough to hang out with him. We got to for one afternoon. AlohaBob

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