In The Studio With Painter And Tattooist Abbey Rich

by: Lucy Jones | 2 months ago | Features

Abbey Rich in her Melbourne studio.

Abbey Rich is living her best life. The multi-hyphenate artist spends her time painting murals, screen-printing clothing, doing hand poke tattoos and cafe-hopping in Melbourne. The creative community in her neighbourhood of Brunswick have had a huge impact on Rich’s life and on her artistic practice. Among other things, her mentors in this community have taught her to work hard and not worry too much about what other people think. These lessons have helped to make Rich the successful artist she is today. We visited Rich in her Melbourne studio recently to check out her beautiful work and chat about the importance of keeping it in the community.

Lucy Jones: Who are you and what do you do? 
Abbey Rich: I am an artist. I am incredibly fortunate to be where I am now. I worked seven days a week for years running a clothing label, going to uni, interning and working at a supermarket — running myself into the ground until I couldn’t anymore! But now, as a result of that hard work I can focus on what I love: painting and drawing. I get to live in a crazy lovely community in a house with my beautiful partner and make art everyday. I will be forever grateful for this time in my life, even if I can’t do it forever, I’m having so much fun. 

What does your local community mean to you? 
I’ve lived and worked in Brunswick for most of my ‘adult’ life, having moved here for a degree I will never finish. Instead, I found a community I will never tire of (aside from the fact it is painfully far from the ocean). We have everything we need within walking distance and community flourishes here because of that. Everyone lives and works within mere blocks of each other. I buy bread from Pip at Ovens Street Bakery, which is round the corner from Lucille at Deans Art and Charlotte at Tinning Street Gallery, which is round the corner from local coffee favourite Kines where we all seem to start our days and make friends. Studios sit unsuspectingly in warehouses all over the place and we all happen to know each other. I am surrounded by creativity and social consciousness. I’m able to feel supported whilst learning from my local community, watching it change and grow. Clearly, I could talk about this place for hours! It means a shitload and I think I’ll be here a long while.

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// nice to feel like painting again //

A post shared by Abbey Rich (@abbey_rich) on Sep 11, 2018 at 11:37pm PDT

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// looking back at an old fave // about to start another today is Brisbane //

A post shared by Abbey Rich (@abbey_rich) on Dec 25, 2018 at 4:19pm PST

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// healed on olivia //

A post shared by Abbey Rich (@abbey_rich) on Dec 11, 2018 at 6:21pm PST

Why do you think it is important to support local businesses and makers?
Supporting local business allows for diversity and individuality to flourish. You’re not subscribing to the boring, trend-driven, negative impact, ethically questionable, unsustainable shit that you find in big, fast fashion stores. The environmental impact is also often less — you can pick up something from their studio instead of having it shipped, pieces are often made in smaller quantities or made to order which means less waste as a result of overproduction. [If you buy local] you can see where your money is going. With social media, you really can gain an understanding about the kind of people you are buying from and the things that are important to them in their lives. As an artist, of course I think it is important to support local business because other people that believe and support me and allow me to live off my practice. Like the ads over the Savers’ speakers encourages: ‘Fight Boring’ through local business and second hand.

What impact has that community had on you and your work?
When I first moved to Brunswick, I met Beci Orpin who has become a really important friend and ‘influence’ I guess you could say. I started interning with her when I was 20 and I still do the odd job for her now and she has influenced my practice extensively. I know I don’t have to stick to one thing, I understand the value in hard work, in loving what you do and not giving too many fucks what people think. 

Every day I spend time with my community — whether it be morning coffees, working on projects together, or just running into each other on the street — shapes my work, my appreciation of human connection and my general happiness. I rely on it a lot, I am very thankful for that. 

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