– by Julianne De Souza
Entering the Colosoul office can be a visually overwhelming experience. The basement in which it is currently located is haphazardly decorated with colourful jars and wires hanging from the ceiling, clusters of pot plants, and mocks-ups of fashion shoots plastered on the walls. Among this chaos is a larger-than-life painting on one of the walls. The wonderfully simple drawing of a girl sitting cross-legged, trimming her hair while it transforms into hundreds of daisies, refuses to be overlooked due to its youthful simplicity.
The artist behind this drawing is Chloe Russell, an 18-year-old Perth student who is currently completing a Certificate IV in Fine Arts. Her love for art has been present since early childhood, although she admits that her artistic talent wasn’t always evident.
“I was never really good at it when I was younger, but I think practice makes perfect,” she admits. In fact, her foray into the art world was a result of a desire to rebel against her family. “I do not have an artistic family at all… I wanted to be the complete opposite,” she explains, “so I’m this musical, run around hippy kid that just does art everywhere.”
Chloe’s latest artistic endeavour is painting skateboards, a self-imposed challenge that began last year as a result of her love for “skating, surfing, the beach and feeling free”. “I designed my own skateboard last year and did all the tracks and everything… It’s the best skateboard in the world.” Chloe has just recently begun to sell her handcrafted skateboards.
Her most recent creation went for an impressive $300, due to the painstaking effort she put into creating it. “I put the whole skateboard together,” she explains, “so I got all the decks, all the wheels, clamps, nuts, everything, and put it all together myself.”
In addition to skateboards, Chloe has also tried her hand at illustrating surfboards and musical instruments. “I do surfboards but that’s just for me at the moment because I’m still starting… But I do wall murals. I do heaps of different art forms, really. It’s just experimenting with every different art form at the moment, and seeing which one works out best and selling that.”
Chloe describes her style as ‘free’. “It goes from abstract to cartoon to surreal to complete realism.” Furthermore, she names God as her main creative inspiration. “I never really plan anything, it just sort of falls into place. So if that’s not God, I don’t know what is.”
As well as painting and selling her skateboards, Chloe is currently helping liven up the Colosoul office. In addition to simple tasks such as re-painting furniture, she plans to do another artwork on the stairwell and to bring in more pieces that she has created in the past. Chloe became involved with Colosoul by meeting its founder, Tricia Ray, through The Esther Foundation. “We do art groups at Esther… [Tricia] would just come in and see me drawing and be like, ‘That’s cool!’… She’d been telling me since I first came in to come down and check Colosoul out and put some art up.”
The Esther Foundation is one of the not-for-profit charities supported by Colosoul; it is a health, development and leadership program for young women. Chloe accredits the foundation with helping her find herself after a rough few years; furthermore, it has given her the chance to give back to the foundation through her work with Colosoul. “I love it, because I love helping,” she simply states.
Chloe presently relies on word of mouth to sell her skateboards. However, she has high hopes for the near future, mentioning that her ultimate goal is for her line of skateboards to become a recognised label. Chloe’s vision for her label is for it to be one-of-a-kind. “I don’t want skateboards like any other skateboard company. I want unique skateboards.” In addition to illustrating and selling skateboards, Chloe’s plans for the next year include completing her Certificate IV in Fine Arts at the end of the year and continuing on to a Diploma in Youth Work.
She also intends to become involved with Christian Surfers, an organised which will allow her “to travel around and surf and get paid for it”, as she puts it. “But if this business gets started up with my skateboards and everything, which I really hope it does, then I probably won’t sign up for the Surfers.”
Get in touch with Chloe through her Instagram account – chloe.j.russell