An Interview with artist Taylor Slater


Meet Taylor Slater our exhibiting artist for our Montauk festival. She is South Florida born and raised multi-medium artist. Her artwork is constantly being inspired by nature and the emotions it evokes within people. Beginning with graphic design and lifestyle photography. Slater has, in the last two years, transitioned from digital art to painting.Slater’s main goal is to emulate nature’s messages through her paintings and she hopes her artwork will inspire others toward joining the fight against plastic pollution. She will be flying out to Montauk, New York for the weekend of NY Women's Surf Film Festival.

taylor slater ny womens surf film festival

As a self taught artist, how did you get started?
Since I was a kid I loved going to art museums. I always had this dream of being an artist and having my own art show, but I never thought it’d be my reality. I played a lot with photography and graphic design from around ages 13-21. Visual arts were always the best. After high school I moved to New York City and I went to college to study business. I realized it wasn't for me and really wanted to pursue something I was passionate about. I dropped out of college with an intent to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. One day I saw a video of a man creating a countertop with resin and then I started looking into painting with resin. I painted my first resin painting in 2017, I was doing it for fun and mainly to find peace in my life. Around a month after I started painting with resin, a woman named Danielle emailed me and asked if I wanted to make paintings for the National Scholastic Surfing Association end-of-the-year trophies. Danielle turned my hobby into a career. She helped me set-up my first art show in August of 2018 in Montauk, New York. Now I’m here writing this in the middle of painting for my second show in Montauk.

You have traveled to some of the most beautiful places on the planet, can you tell us about any spots that influenced your work?
The most inspirational destination for me has been Hawaii. That place has changed my life. I used to go as a kid, but since then the first time I went back was two years ago. It changed my life and inspired my entire first show. After I left Hawaii I just wanted to paint everything I saw there. Fiji and Australia have also been huge inspirations for me.

Your body of work as a whole is so excitingly different from one piece to the next. When working specifically in the ocean photography realm, is it a conscious decision to not put as much design work over the pieces and let the sea speak for itself?
I’m always paying close attention to color, symmetry, and lighting with every piece of art I create. Although when photographing or painting nature, there’s not much you can be in control of and that’s what I love the most. Working with resin is like trying to control the movement of water; you can guide where it goes but not how it goes. It drives me crazy sometimes, but I love how it duplicates the movement of water.

Throughout your more multimedia design process, do you tend to make your photos first then figure out the more graphic design elements associated with them after? Or do you design the more graphic parts first then input the photo?
The photos always come first. For me they inspire the graphic design elements.

When creating your original artwork, do you use photos you've made as a reference or just create the pieces from scratch?
That depends on each collection. My first collection was based more off of photos I took and places I saw in Hawaii, but my second show was just paintings I envisioned in my head. My third collection, the one I'm painting now, is of a place I wish I could visit, but never have.

As a multimedia artist, do you have a favorite medium to work with at the moment?
My favorite medium as of today is spray paint, but that changes daily.

taylor slater ny womens surf film festival
taylor slater ny women's surf film festival

The marriage of the resin and acrylic on the wood captures the motion and spirit of the ocean so well how did you arrive at that combination? What was the experimental process like?
I always knew I wanted to paint oceans and beaches. I’m so passionate about nature and it’s changed my life so much that I knew I had to paint the places I’ve seen and share them with others. Hopefully transferring the same feelings I got from these places through my art. So it was never a question as to what I was going to paint, it was more what I was going to paint it with. When I saw resin I knew I wanted to try it, mainly because it looked fun and different. I tried different brands of resin, different forms of acrylic paint, different brands of resin ink, I’ve torched paintings with a candle lighter before I realized a propane torch might work better, I’ve tried Walmart paint and expensive paint, I've tried every combination possible. I never knew the “right” way to paint, I just tried things until it looked how I wanted it to. To sum it up, my experimental process was messy.

With such a diverse set of passions what is important for people to understand about you, Taylor, when they look at your work?
I don’t really mind if they understand me or not; I want them more to understand what I’m trying to say with my work. I want them to understand that the earth was created for us to enjoy and take care of. Have you ever sat down on a beautiful beach or hiked to the top of a mountain and just felt so at peace ? There’s something about nature that “brings us back" and humbles us; that's the feeling I'm trying to capture in my art. If we ruin nature we ruin that connection with nature. It will hurt us more than anything. I want people to experience an inner peace when they see my work, but also be inspired to treat the earth with care.

Any interesting projects on the horizon?
I’m going to start experimenting with latex and neon lights, but that’s a secret.

How do you continue to challenge yourself as an artist? Is it from an inner motivation and curiosity or outer/ social inspiration?
Motivating and challenging myself is my biggest struggle. Sometimes it will be a sudden desire to create, sometimes it’s a song that inspires me, and sometimes I just want to see if I can create something that I saw in my head. It’s always something different !

Tell us about the Lonely Whale and how you came across them and the work you do with them?

I came across Lonely Whale in August of 2019. A friend brought them to my attention and gave me the idea to work with them for my first art show. I chose them to work with because I realized that they are genuinely passionate about what they do and will fight to make it happen. Last year I auctioned off a painting for them to promote their strawless campaign. I really wanted to do more than just have a show and share my art, I wanted to bring awareness to a specific problem in the world, make others aware of it, and then raise funds to go towards reversing the problem. Lonely Whale is changing the world.

What can we all do to help with the widespread impact that plastic waste has on our oceans and marine life?
It’s pretty simple, the best way to fight plastic pollution is to stop using plastic. Start small; I started with straws and plastic water bottles, even though they’re small, they will make you more aware of all the plastic around you. When you find yourself using plastic, recycle it. Pay attention when you’re grocery shopping; do you really need a separate plastic bag for your fruits and vegetables ? Do you need to buy the case of plastic water bottles ? Start questioning the “normal”.

What’s next for Taylor Slater?
I ask myself that everyday ! I’m an awful planner. As of right now, my only plans are to move to Hawaii and start working on three more shows for this year. And learn how to paint with liquid latex.

women's surf film festival taylor slater lava girl surf
women's surf film festival taylor slater lava girl surf

Join us for the 7th Annual NY Women’s Surf Film Festival in Montauk, August 16-18 at The Montauk Beach House.