Life in bright colours

Mitch Revs’ colourful, cartoon-style illustrations instantly bring a smile to everyone’s face.

He is one of Newcastle’s favourite artists and barely needs an introduction. You can spot his bright, distinctive, and sometimes cheeky murals around the streets and alleyways of Newcastle or head to his Hunter Street gallery for the full Mitch Revs experience.

Many of his works are set along Newcastle’s beautiful coastline, celebrating Mitch’s love of surf and skate culture and our city’s laid back lifestyle. Much of his work is inspired by his beachside upbringing in Merewether.

“My family home was only one kilometer from the beach so I would spend a lot of time surfing, hanging out with friends and playing at the beach,” Mitch reminisces. “It has been a massive inspiration for my art. A lot of my childhood memories go into my work now, bringing back those nostalgic feelings.”
Mitch says he’s always loved to paint and was lucky to grow up in a family that encouraged creativity. As a kid he would often spend his weekends painting, drawing, always being creative.

“I studied art in high school and shortly after finishing school, I started painting tattoo flash with water colours. It wasn’t until 2014, seven years later, that I started my career in the arts and developed the style that I am known for today,” he says.

Five years later, in 2019, he opened his permanent gallery space in Hunter Street. But there have been plenty of other highlights in recent years, including having his art chosen to be wrapped around the iconic Vegemite jar to celebrate the brand’s 95th anniversary.

Upon hearing the news, Mitch says his heart was beating so fast he felt it was “about to bounce its way up my esophagus like a ping pong ball on to my keyboard”. The project theme, ‘Tastes like Australia’, inspired a simplified version of one of his “chaotic beach scenes,” a surfing montage celebrating Australia’s laid back, coastal lifestyle.

“Life in Australia tastes like the outback, the ocean, the road trips. It feels like our youth, the summer sun and endless fun,” Mitch enthuses. Another big opportunity was a commission by Fox Sports for an artwork of the Newcastle 500 Supercars event.

The piece showcased a number of Newcastle’s landmarks, was signed by all the drivers and sold for $35,000 at a live auction, with all of the proceeds going to families affected by the devastating 2019 Black Friday fires. Mitch also cherished his collaboration with Amazon Playmakers, an initiative by Amazon Australia and the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

“Ten children were selected by the Foundation to be this year’s Amazon Playmakers, to review and test toys for the top 100 Holiday Toy List 2021. I spent 30 minutes with these kids over Zoom and used their creative ideas to piece together an artwork for each one, to be used in a limited edition colouring book.
“$1 from each book sold over the Black Friday sale weekend went towards the Starlight Foundation.”
Mitch’s happy place though is his own gallery where you can browse and buy his artworks and merchandise. There are collectable mugs, coasters, t-shirts and stubby holders with his bold and fun art on it as well as jigsaw puzzles which you can have framed on completion.

“I love our gallery. Not only is it home to all my work but we also support a range of local artists and we operate a printing and framing service specifically for artists.

“When I first started selling my work, I found it really difficult to find a quality, reliable service to create prints of my art. We now have professional staff with 20 plus years of experience between them to reproduce, print and frame artworks for local artists and photographers.”

While Mitch is famous for his coastal cartoonist drawings, he loves playing around with different styles. “I am constantly experimenting to see what new textures and layers I can bring to my craft.”

2022 will be a particularly exciting one for Mitch has become a dad, with twins arriving in February. Mitch said while the art might take a back seat for a few months, we can still expect to see a Mitch Revs Exhibition sometime later this year, so keep your eyes peeled.

Find more stories in our Autumn issue of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Nathalie Craig, photography courtesy of Mitch Revs