Chelsea Gustafsson – Regional Contemporary Artist

Welcome to a fresh new series of interviews on Regional Contemporary Visual Artists, these are Artists who live outside major cities and often face differing challenges to Artists “In the thick” of a busy contemporary art scene, which can often be found in big cities…

My aim is to showcase these Artists from time to time and give them a few extra moments of “fame”. To start out I want to introduce you to some Geelong regional Artists, for the overseas readers check out Geelong and the “Great Ocean Road” online to see what you are missing.

If you are a Geelong artist or indeed any regional artist outside a big city… consider dropping me a line to be interviewed. Remember though the focus is on contemporary works.

Chelsea Gustafsson, is first off the rank….


Tell us about you and your art ?
I live in sunny Barwon Heads with my husband, dog and chooks. I’m currently studying graphic arts and about to complete the course and be thrown back into the real world. Studying full time for a couple of years has been very indulgent and a load of fun, but I’m looking forward to having some paid work again and my weekends free to paint, surf, hang out, whatever. This year in particular I haven’t been able to paint as much as I would like to, but I’d probably complain of that regardless of the amount of time spare anyway.

How long have you been apart of the Visual Art scene here??
I moved to Barwon Heads from Melbourne in 2004 and just kept plodding along painting and doing what I do. I’ve participated in a couple of local exhibitions here, in Barwon Heads. In 2006 I successfully entered the Geelong Regional Artists Exhibition and then this year I was fortunate to be invited back to exhibit in their 7 year Retrospective Exhibition. I’ve had some paintings up in Torquay, but other than that Melbourne’s nice and close and there’s loads going on there with annual exhibitions and art prizes to enter.


What do you like about being part of this region?
The environment. I grew up in a small community in East Gippsland and it just seemed right to settle in a similar kind of environment after running amok in Melbourne and overseas. My husband and I both enjoy surfing, so somewhere by the coast was a no-brainer for us.

Tell us about your working arrangements?
I’ve just packed up my studio space actually. I had a room at the front of the house set up with an old drafting table as an easel and all of my materials and bits of inspiration scattered throughout. But I tend to use the kitchen table most of the time, so I had a ruthless spring clean and squished everything into a cupboard. I generally work quite small so it’s not too hard to pack things away again. I think I need it for my head-space too. If I’m returning to work on a painting and there’s too much “stuff” existing around it I find it quite hard to get back into the groove of it. Less clutter equals a clearer head for me. I do have intentions of setting up the garage and taking over there though!


A bit about your art background??
I left High School and went on to study painting at RMIT TAFE. One of my painting lecturers told me I’d never amount to being more than a waitress. I haven’t worked hospitality for awhile, I’m probably not even qualified enough for it these days. Maybe I’ve amounted to less than even he expected! I’m pretty happy with where I’m at, at the moment though. Not happy enough to just cruise with what I’m doing, there’s always more to strive for, but I don’t feel like a complete cock up just yet.

What do you do other than Art??
Other than art? What else is there? I’m currently studying graphic arts, but I guess that doesn’t count. Surfing. Kicking the footy at the park with my husband and dog. I really do like arty stuff. It is a pretty broad term though isn’t it? Art.


Do you catch up with other Artists in the region?
Not really. I have a friend nearby who I met back at RMIT TAFE, we’re both a bit useless at catching up regularly but we will call on each other when needing inspiration or a pat on the back. I also recently had lunch and a chat with someone that I have only crossed paths with a few times. He’s just getting back into his more creative side and wanted to know how other’s go about their craft. I don’t think I told him anything he doesn’t already know, but it’s good to reaffirm with yourself sometimes that you’re on the right path, or have “stuck” moments just like everyone else. I think we all second guess ourselves and lose confidence in what we’re doing sometimes. It’s usually an up and down thing.

Being a touristy area, do you take advantage of that somehow??
I try to, but I don’t exploit it as well as I could I don’t think, but that comes down to a time thing mostly. Earlier this year I had a series of small works up at TigerFish
in Torquay. Their size and price made them quite accessible for tourists passing through. I intend to keep up this series but there’s that time thing again!

Do you have a web presence??
Not yet… I thought I would by now. I intended to! It’s getting there. I’m hoping to be on top of that in a couple of weeks…


Do you have a highlight in  your art career you want to mention?
I was pretty chuffed when Linden Arts Centre in St Kilda asked if they could use one of my paintings to promote the following year’s Linden Postcard Show. I got a few calls and messages from folk recognising my work travelling around Melbourne on the trams as a poster.

How does the process of creating an art object begin for you?
Sometimes it’s just a colour that will dictate what I paint. Sometimes just a situation that may appeal to me and I’ll create a scene to photograph for reference and work from there. It can just be the way some lines flow through an advertisement that sparks something. It comes from everywhere. I draw it up, transfer it onto the canvas and then it’s just like paint-by-numbers from there.?

Did you choose Art or did Art choose you?
I chose it from since I can remember. Don’t all kids like art? I just kept doing it, and missed it whenever I stopped doing it.

Any advice for a young “Artist” contemplating dedicating their life to Art?
You’ll either do it or you wont. It’s really that simple. I’m sure it’s the same for someone who is good with words, they write because it’s pleases them. Whether you make money from it or not isn’t the driving force behind it.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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2 Responses to “Chelsea Gustafsson – Regional Contemporary Artist”

  1. Artist Interview - Chelsea Gustafsson : ArtStuff on September 21st, 2009 8:35 am

    […] interview on Contemporary regional Artist Chelsea Gustafsson an interesting read. Its over on our sister site September 21, 2009 […]

  2. microscapes by Chelsea Gustafsson at Boom Gallery | Artin' Geelong on September 29th, 2013 9:26 pm

    […] You can keep up to date with Chelsea’s work on her blog and view her online portfolio at And you can read a 2009 interview with her over on Steve Gray’s blog. […]