Artist Interview: Wade Koniakowsky

Wade Koniakowsky’s art transports you to places where time stands still. The scenes are sensual and rich, comprised of warm colors and energetic brush strokes. Take your time perusing this gallery, feel the tropical breeze, and enjoy the words of a man who has made his art his career.

Hi Wade, how are you and where are you today?

Great! Stoked to be painting today!

Have you had any good waves lately?

Just got back from surfing south shore Oahu – not epic but fun, head high, good conditions. Hoping to get good waves on the south side of Kauai next week. Riding long, short and mid-length boards. I surf a lot these days with my daughter Katie.

Your art has been described as having the ability to “ease life’s tensions and take the viewer to a distant shore”. How do you approach the blank canvas? Do you have a creative vision and process you follow with each new piece of art?

1. I try to come up with a solid concept for a painting – kind of a “why am I doing this?” question to be considered.

2. The Sketch – pretty critical.

3. Frame of mind – am I distracted or can I focus? (this is why I do a lot of painting at night, fewer distractions).


With all of the inspiration in the world, how do you decide which idea will be brought to life? Do you have boundless inspiration or do the ideas percolate with time?

I work on a lot of “assignment” art – commissions, event art, etc. In these cases, a general direction is already in play. For the “pure pleasure” art that I do, it comes from some moment of inspiration, things I find interesting. A place, or maybe just the way light is falling on something.

Having worked as a Creative Director for many years, is painting work or play?

Work. But you want to make sure there’s joy in it. If there’s no joy, the work suffers.


Your style varies from mesmerising surrealism in Jungle Blend, to timeless beauty in works like Hula Girl. Do you have any strong artistic influences, and what are your favorite mediums?

Artistic influences include Michael Cassidy, Rick Griffin, Ken Auster, John Singer Sargent, Sorolla, tons of others, German poster design, lots of graphic design, mostly older stuff.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have any daily rituals that maintain your artistic flow?

I make my living solely from my art. If I can’t provide for my family, then I have to go do something else. So I work hard on the business side of things. You just have to think strategically, because making money at art is the hard part. Creating the art is the reward. So daily rituals include many things.

I do to tend to the business – then I’m free to paint.


A dream surf trip to anywhere, with anyone alive or not. Where would you go, who would you be with and what would you be riding…?

Mentawais, close friends, my daughter, short boards

Surfers share an intimate connection with the ocean and beach lifestyle, and this is apparent in your work. Do you have words to describe the essence of your relationship with surfing?

Surfing is very sensory and very visual. It naturally inspires art. Almost every time I’m in the water I see something worthy of a painting.

For creative people out there contemplating following a less conventional path, and dedicating time to their craft, any words of advice?

Understand as much as you can about the business model you endeavour, unless you have a trust fund or other means of support. Seek as much info as you can about the business of art – it’s what they rarely teach in art school


How can people connect with you and find out more?

Instragram: oceanartbykoniakowsky

Facebook: Ocean Art by Koniakowsky.