Adrian Knott is an Australian illustrator and is the creator of the Rake Clothing line. His unique and vintage inspired designs are a combination of lines and colorful characters that end up on shirts, walls, and boards. Adrian took some time to speak with us about his life and his art.
What was life like growing up?
We moved to Noosa Heads, Queensland when I was around nine. It was a great place to grow up as a grom—lots of surfing before and after school. Then we moved back to Melbourne, where I became stranded in the city one and a half hours from the beach—which made it hard to get regular surfs. We were lucky enough to have a beach house, so we would head down the coast on the weekend. Skateboarding was my only outlet in the city.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
Probably my dad as he was a keen surfer when I was young. He had this strange double arm paddle when he would catch waves; it seemed to work well for him. He was a talented illustrator. He had some amazing drawings I would rifle through and get stoked how good they were. Later, as a teenager, I worshipped all the Powell Peralta crew and dudes like Matt Archibald and Christian Fletcher. Heavy metal and airs!!
When did you get your first surfboard?
Six years old. It was a finless foam board. At 11, I got my first fiberglass board. I got so excited, I forgot to put the legrope on and then watched it tag every rock on the point.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I don’t think my brain can think that far back, but I am sure I was super stoked … as I am today every time I surf.
Where did you interest in art come from?
My dad’s drawings and from skateboard graphics of the 80’s and 90’s. I also spent hours looking at Rick Griffin’s art. I was amazed at the detail in his drawings; that dude was a freak! My dad was in the rag trade and he actually got the license to sell the Griffin t-shirts in Australia. So there were plenty of amazing t-shirts lying around the house. I think I still have them in the shed.
What is your process when creating your art?
I worked at Rip Curl for seven years and there was no room for creating. The deadlines were super tight. I had to pump designs out like a sausage machine. These days I like to spend more time on concepts.
Sometimes I have a mind explosion of ideas, but most of the time I spend days trying to come up with ideas over a long process. I am really fussy when I am producing art for my own label. I use Photoshop to come up with a rough layout of what I need and then fill in the holes. I do a lot of drawing as well as using the computer to fine-tune designs.
I use many mediums in my work. Screen printing, wood collage, ink and acrylic on wood, computer art, scans—it’s just one big mish mash. I think I have had to learn lots of mediums as being a freelance artist you can’t just serve up the same style for 20 t-shirts. You have to learn to make each one as individual as possible.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
Out of all the places I have been, I still love to travel in Australia. We have so many great beaches to explore. If there are no waves or snow, I don’t want to go there. I am hanging to hit Japan; that is my next trip for sure.
What is it that makes you a nice person? What code do you live by?
Well, I hope I am a nice person!! I try my best to respect others all the time. If people are nice to me, I will give them the same in return.
Who/what inspires you?
I have met some real amazing, talented people over the last five years who have become great friends. Most of them are artists and surfers. They inspire me to produce better work. I get to see their projects firsthand.
Books are a great inspiration to me also. I have a massive collection of vintage kids’ books, old mags and contemporary books which make researching and “thought-starting” a lot easier.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
Well, I guess just to enjoy life every day and make the most of what you have.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
What are you most proud of?
I am still working on that!! Eventually, I want to dedicate my time to helping with conservation of animals and preventing cruelty. It really gets my goat some of the things that go on in this world. That’s why I respect people like Paul Watson, people who are willing to get off their asses to try and change things.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
My life pretty much revolves around surfing. I could not imagine life with out it. I am lucky enough that my girlfriend is a super keen surfer also, so we both wake up and get super amped to get waves. This works real well for me.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Great food, punchy head high barrels, family, my girlfriend, art and animals.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
I guess I spend more time looking at the surf industry than actual surfers. For me, it would be RK, Jeff McCallum, Tyler Warren, Joel Tudor and Tom Wegener. I think there is definitely a big change in the surf industry at the moment. It will be real interesting to see where it goes next.
What is currently your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
I am absolutely obsessed with the Mini Simmons boards!! I am blown away with the design. My mates just laugh at my boards, Dudes on the beach freak and ask, “What the fuck is that?” I am so into riding super short boards at the moment. I have two boards that I made: a 4’11″ and a 5’2″. That is all I ride unless it’s tiny. Then I bust out the 9’9″ log. I have been shaping my own boards over the last year and glassing them also. It is the best feeling to make your own board.
As far as surf spots go, it would have to be any grinding beach break with a barrel section.
What’s your favorite meal?
Thai food is so good. No meat though—I am a tofu eating hippy.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I have an iPod, but I don’t use it at the moment. I just turn on the radio as it connects me with the world. Otherwise I feel like I am living in a bubble.
What causes/projects/organizations do you support?
All organizations that are into conservation of animals and the environment.
What are you most grateful for?
Family, friends and health.
What’s next for Adrian Knott?
I have a lot on the go at the moment. I am currently working on a collaboration range of foam sleds with two local Torquay dudes (Jordan Nobel and Sean Nettleton) to come up with a solid range of boards. I am also working on the new range for Rake for summer, so pretty much putting all my effort into creating our new line of trunks and tees. I just received a tee from Seamouse, who is in the art series this range. Looks sick! Hopefully I will do a couple of exhibitions this year. Also maybe hit California to visit some of the accounts and friends I have made recently.
Learn more about Adrian Knott by visiting the Rake Clothing website here.