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A Conversation with Luke Chiswell


Photo by Arnad Hajdic

Luke Chiswell is a Los Angeles based abstract visual artist who’s work has spread across the world. It’s common for people to see Luke’s art without even knowing that he created it. This is because of the massive range of mediums he uses; creating clothes, canvas pieces, sculptures and even skateboards.

Another thing that people may not know, is that Luke is originally from Canberra, and even studied at Radford College before making his way across the road to the University of Canberra. Kofi Owusu-Ansah got the chance to chat with Luke while  in LA about his work and his thoughts on Canberra.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

Do you remember what your first big piece was?
I don’t know, I think it was like a big poster under a bridge, or something like that. Probably my iconic head.

Luke Chiswell’s “Straight Face”. Photo by Luke Chiswell

What has been your biggest success as an artist?
Not giving up.

When I look at you, I can’t imagine you in a Radford uniform. Can you tell me a bit about your school life?
Look closer, Mufasa. I went to Arana, which was like a Steiner school for primary school, then I went to Radford, so they were the complete opposite in teaching styles. I don’t think at the time I was very interested in an academic schooling, so school wasn’t for me, but I actually really liked going to Radford.

I did accredited stuff towards year 11 and 12 – I think I could’ve left halfway through year 12, but I just stayed. My classes towards the end were perfect – I had Fashion, Photography, Art and English.

I really liked school, but I don’t think the school system really suited me and the way I liked to learn.

Changing it up a little, what’s your go-to Goodberry’s order?
That’s tricky as well, I’ve been eating there for ages so I get in a weird place with that…what I would love right now if the sun was out a little more is probably a vanilla concrete with sour worms and Oreos.

That sounds disgusting. When someone in LA asks you where you’re from, do you say Canberra or do you say Sydney out of convenience?
I usually say Canberra, and then no one knows where that is, and then I say Sydney, and then they say “You sound British.”

What’s something Canberra has that you wish LA did?
Kofi. Some Café, Barrio, Mocan & Green Grout.

Any advice for a creative trying to get out of Canberra?
I don’t like giving advice, but I would say try to embrace [Canberra] while you can, because it’s a good space to flesh out ideas and work on whatever you’re working on.

There’s moments to make things, and there are good people to collaborate with, and just try to embrace that while you can, because if you’re set on leaving then eventually you will, so just embrace it while you can.

Luke Chiswell’s “Hold Your Head Up”. Photo by Luke Chiswell

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