The Mayor



First things first. Who is Paul McNeil?


I’m still finding out. I think I’m about 30 years away from the answer to that.


What do you think about the relation of Art and Design?


They are both intertwined in my mind.  There is art in everything if you look for it.  My work has a lot of design or graphic elements to it as I’ve been a graphic designer all my life.


Are you an alternative artist?


Yes, I’m alternative everything.  My whole life has been alternative probably because I grew up in New Zealand which was isolated and then punk rock came along which taught us all to do things on your own terms because no one else was going to do it for you. Extremely liberating and an ethos I still live by.


Your body of work have different themes, and you mix them when you show them.

It looks like a music LP, with different songs made with the same instruments?


I have learned that the ideas and answers are always under your nose (or inside you). My favourite songs have soul in one form or another.  My life is music and surf and friends and simple good times. I try to weave that into my art.


Sometimes you paint the same drawing with different sizes or different materials.

This could be also a reinterpretation of the same “song”?


Yeah I guess so. I’m used to seeing my graphic work reproduced hundreds of times so just doing “one” painting is perhaps not enough. I like to do variations on the theme. Also I do so many paintings its kinda hard to come up with 100’s of new ideas…


How you start a new work?

You first write the song and then you play it?


I sometimes have some words and add a picture or sometimes the other way around. It’s a fun part of my art. I realised that people can take the simplest sentence very seriously if its in the context of “art”


Are you working with galleries?


Yes, I work with Galleries but am not in an exclusive relationship with any. I’m alternative remember.


Tell us about your relation with Dain Thomas / Sea Surfboards.


I met Dain when I moved to Byron Bay. He had a little surfboard company with another mate. Matt Yeates. I joined the crew and we turned Sea surfboards into a great and somewhat influential scene out here in Australia. We were probably ahead of our time, but you get that….  I look back on those days very fondly. We had a gallery space full of beautiful boards and art and music. I was the cool scene. It’s a shame it all came to an end. If anyone wants to sell their Sea board back to me, please call…


How do you paint on the surfboards, you laminate them?


Some boards were conventionally painted but mainly I did the art with hot resin. Its pretty difficult and fast. The resin goes hard in just a few minutes.  It takes a lot of concentration and some helping hands.



Who and what is the Art Park?

The Art Park was started by myself and a mate Craig. We wanted to introduce some more culture to our world. Based in Byron bay we had a gallery space for a few years showing some amazing artists. Joni Sternbach, Rhys Lee, Thomas Campbell and so many others. We ran an artist residency and published a few art journals. All the things I love doing!  Really it is an extension of Sea Surfboards (but without surfboards).  Yeah, my life is about the alternative art culture and trying to change a few peoples lives by exposing them to it.  


What do you think about the mainstream surf culture?


Its boring but hey, so is mainstream “culture”.  I live in possibly the most diverse surf town in the world. We have lots of pro surfers here and we have lots of free surfers here.  I look forward to the day surfing has all its different factions and everyone is happy to let everyone catch a wave however they choose too.