Behind the Design: Skye Walker
Posted on March 09 2020
Photo credit - Left: @toddmurphyart
As both a friend of ALOHA Collection and a Mizu Ambassador, Skye drew the hibiscus artwork that brought our new Mizu x ALOHA Collection Travel Set to life.
Photo Credit - Left: @iingrid_art
Skye Walker has been an artist for most of his life. Growing up in a family of creatives, he found his passion for art at a young age, and today is a jack of all artistic trades - a painter, graphic designer, and most notably a muralist. You can find his artwork on walls all over the country, from California to Colorado, New York to Nashville, and from DC to Hawaiʻi.
Photo credit - Left: @cortmuller, Right: @jaznewt
Rachael (co-founder of ALOHA Collection) and Skye became friends more than 12 years ago as neighbors in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. They continued to support each other as Rachael started ALOHA Collection and Skye became a full-time muralist.
North County San Diego is a small beach community where artists mingle with surfers, and your neighbors are your friends. Photo credit: Steve Iverson
When Rachael and her business partner Heather were just getting started, they leaned into the North County community and network of creatives to help with designs, projects, and overall inspiration. Rachael walked next door to talk to Skye about creating a hibiscus print and the rest is history! Fast forward five years later and the Hibiscus print is still one of our top-selling designs.
We sat down with Skye for a Q&A on his design process.
Q: What is your creative process like when you sit down to design? How do you start?
A: Almost every artistic project starts with a vision in my head, then I translate it to a quick sketch to see if it’s worth pushing further. After drawing the idea a couple of times and roughing it out, then I’ll take it to the next level and hopefully turn it into something cool and worth showing - a painting, mural, design or presenting an idea to a client for a project.
If I have artist block, I’ll just take my pen and start sketching to get the brain going. Lately I’ve been doing a bunch of little abstract pieces that I call an ‘Abstract a Day’ to keep my brain fresh and free. Sometimes I get so locked into painting things that are realistic or recognizable and that can be limiting. By doing some fun abstract pieces it’s helping me reinvent the other work I would create.
Q: Tell us about your environmental background. How has this influenced your art?
A: My sister and I were raised by two loving parents who were not only artists and musicians, but they were environmentalists as well. Long before it became cool to be an environmentalist, my parents were performing as a folk singing duo in the 70’s, and preaching about recycling and saving the planet. So we grew up with the understanding that the earth is our Mother and we need to take care of her in any way we can, even if it’s small. My art has always been influenced by nature and my natural surroundings, but having an underlying theme of ‘Mother Nature’ and saving the planet has always woven itself into my work, even if it’s not blatant.
Q: You seem to be very intentional about your brand partnerships, how do you choose who to collaborate with?
A: I think it’s important to align yourself with brands that you resonate with (like choosing your friends), you want them to be positive and be doing good things in the world and also align with your ideals.
In some ways, ALOHA and Mizu were two of the first brands I ever partnered with and I’ve been working with both for years now and I’m very honored to do so. They are not only great brands, but I’ve become great friends with the people in those companies so it feels like they are family and not just a partnership.
Q: How has North County influenced you as an artist and designer?
A: I was born in Big Bear, California so I grew up coming down to North County, San Diego. Even though I wasn’t born in Encinitas, I always felt like it was home. I moved to Encinitas right after I graduated from college in 2002 and never left. I traveled and did lots of things, but Cardiff-by-the-Sea has become my home for 18+ years.
Living here changed my life in so many ways as a human and artist. I’ve worked in the action sports industry, surfed almost daily and made lifelong friends. Not to mention that these connections and adventures influenced my art to the degree of shifting my entire focus from working in a corporate environment to working for myself and becoming a full time muralist and artist on my own for 11 years and counting.
North County is a special place and while things change over time, this place remains special and holds a bit of magic for me, and it always will as it really shaped who I’ve become as an artist and a human.
Q: Travel is in our DNA at ALOHA Collection and is also in yours. What role does travel play in your creativity?
A: Without travel the brain is stagnant. You have to get out of your bubble and comfort zone to be inspired. In 2017 I decided to get a Sprinter van, build it out and do a year+ long mural tour from coast to coast. My buddy Joey Fandel and Johnny Wood helped me build out my van, named VanGO (my sister Amoris’ idea), and I took off in June 2018 on an epic adventure across the USA. I even partnered with ALOHA and Mizu as sponsors for the tour which was great because I used their gear every day on the tour.
I painted 30 murals from coast to coast in 14 months and had the time of my life. I not only got to work with communities and students to paint murals, but I also met so many wonderful new people and made lifetime friends. I collaborated with other artists as well and helped inspire them as much as they inspired me. Even though the tour is over, I’m still reminded daily of what that trip did for me as an artist and more importantly as a human.
Q: For the young aspiring artists, graphic designers or muralists, what do you want them to know - what advice would you give them?
Work hard, be humble, be flexible on projects but don’t let people walk over you, and stay strong. It’s easy to feel like what you’re doing might not be the right path if it’s not going how you planned. But if you love art and it’s your passion, stick with it and it will all pay off.
You will have ups and downs, but that’s part of the process. You will have to go through some crap to get to the other side and go ‘Wow, I had to deal with that junk to get to this epic spot’.
Trust in the process, learn from other artists and don’t be too sensitive about your work, not everyone will like it. And ALWAYS get your project in writing with a deposit, that protects you and the client. Doing it for ‘exposure’ isn’t payment either, stick to your guns and you’ll be respected for it.
Q: How do you think artistic collaborations benefit brands?
A: Brands can access so many artists these days and with social media, it’s a contest to see who can get who to represent their product. But it has to be mutually beneficial for the artist and client.
The ‘exposure’ as payment isn’t a thing anymore and it doesn’t pay the bills. But if there is a solid ground of respect and communication between each party, both can benefit greatly and carry on a working relationship for a long time. I’m not a fan of brands who just want to get the next best thing on their product. I understand diversity in the design and art… but I think keeping some consistent artists in the loop and building those relationships is important.
Q: Inquiring minds want to know... How do you use your ALOHA Collection?
A: I use my ALOHA Collection daily! I not only put my surf wax, sunscreen, leashes and other accessories in them, but I also put a lot of my art supplies in them. I’ll put paint pens, paints, spray paint caps, brushes, sketchbooks and more in those bags and organize them by what’s in them. They definitely help me stay organized and keep my gear from going haywire! I don’t know what I did before ALOHA Collection existed!
Q: Come on...tell us more about your name…
A: So my name is Scottish heritage related. My whole name is: Sherlock Skye McLeod Walker. I started going by Skye in 5th grade because Skye was easier to go by. So, while Skye Walker is my given name, Sherlock is my first name.
I was born in 1978 and Star Wars was 1977, but my parents already had my name picked out for me, it just so happens Star Wars and Luke Skyewalker went on to be a massive hit, and while that’s rad, I wasn’t named after the film. And, if anyone is wondering…The Empire Strikes Backs is the best Star Wars film ever. Period ;)