What Makes an Artist – Donovan Christie

Growing up in suburban Adelaide, this “born and bred 90’s hip hopper” has managed to take inspiration from what may seem like uninspiring streets to create surreal but very relatable art. Donovan Christie’s inspiration can be attributed back to his brother and “the crew down the avenue” introducing him to hip hop culture from a young age. “This naturally led me to begin graffiti from the age of 12. I continued to practice graffiti for the following 7 years, ultimately retiring after a brief run in with the law,” says Donovan.


Donovan Christie in his studio.

Since then Donovan has transferred his creative passion to the canvas, starting by painting rappers and hip hop icons and eventually combining hip hop and street style to create surreal images of iconic Adelaide landscapes. “The buildings that I find myself really attracted to are the ones with the most character, the nostalgic buildings from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s with the distinct signage and charm from that era, anything that evokes a memory really.”


East Meets West by Donovan Christie

These streetscapes, however, can evoke nostalgia even in a viewer who hasn’t visited Adelaide. The subjects are ordinary in that they could be anywhere, but it is about what the viewer pictures when they look at the painting. “What I am hoping they (the viewer) feel is that sense of nostalgia, no matter what the age group, generation, class or even if they are from Adelaide for that matter… What I’m trying to do is remind the viewer of that time of year… like the smell of that certain spring day, around dusk when you would head to the local fish and chip shop and grab your newspaper wrapped feed. I also just love hearing everyone’s different story and memories that are attached to each painting.”


One of Donovan’s recent paintings.

Growing up in Hyde Park seems to have subconsciously influenced his career, having lived in the same suburb as fellow realism painters and influencers Richard Maurovic and Jeffrey Smart. “Each of us subsequently paint urban landscapes and streetscapes although there is a generation gap of about 30 years between each of us,” explains Donovan.new-kid-on-the-block-donovan-christie-bluethumb-art-small

New Kid on the Block by Donovan Christie

When Donovan isn’t painting, he volunteers his time running workshops for at risk teens and young detainees. This led him to win the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards for 2016 in recognition of his work. “Oh man, this was so unexpected. I was a nominee the previous year and to just be a finalist this year was spun out. I was up against some amazing people in my category, one in particular that is ahead of the game musically, so to win it was an incredible achievement.”


Young Acheiver Award 2016 awarded to Donovan in the ‘Arts and Fashion’ category

When asked to describe a typical day, Donovan replies with one word: tiring. Can we blame him? This young painter has achieved so much in his years and his attitude is one open to continual development of his work. “The more I’m establishing myself in the art world, the more I find myself appreciating and understanding styles of art and artists that I once would have questioned their whole significance.”


Donovan’s collection of paintings in his studio.

“I love the journey I have been on, the late nights, the early mornings, and the mystery of where it will take me. I may not follow all the rules to the art world, but isn’t that what art’s truly about, breaking the rules?”

View and buy Donovan Christie’s artwork online here.

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