Interview with Artist Madeline O'Donoghue

Tell us about you and your creations

Hi, I’m Madeline, nice to meet you! 

I am an independent creative based in Byron Bay, Australia. I'm originally from New Zealand but have been living in LA for the past few years. I have a degree in Fine Arts and have also studied illustration and design. 

I make all sorts of creative work from illustration & painting to photography and design. Most of my creations are focused in or around the water, the ocean and women in surfing (for now!!). I enjoy bringing a retro, hazy LA feel to my work and have recently started applying my drawings to patterns and prints with the intention of harking back to old surf shack wallpapers and bedspreads. 

surf art

Le wetsuit by MOD her waves

What inspires the art that you create?

I have recently moved to Byron Bay from LA where I was lucky enough to spend a good chunk of time on really focusing on my own creative work. I spent a lot of time doing big road trips around California and neighboring States; visiting National Parks, little surf spots, camping in forests and eating at diners - my work really began here. I started drawing a lot of what I was seeing in and around LA and really just spending time looking. 

Using simple cheap disposable cameras along the way really helped to slow things down and frame up things as well. A cheap camera and a road trip can be an amazing source of inspiration, especially along the Californian coast. 

Of course, being from New Zealand, I also grew up near a lot of surf beaches and spent most summers at outdoor pools so this type of work was always in my blood. My parents are both from surf towns and have always had a lot of art & design books around the house, so visual references were always around me too. 

I think this combination of different exposures has really pushed my work in the direction it's going in right now. 

Madeline surf art her waves

Who is your favorite artist/designer?

I truly have so many and it's always a changing beast. David Hockney has been a big inspiration for a long time. Alex Katz holds a strong place in my mind. Ed Ruscha, William Eggleston, Georgia O'Keeffe BUT I never stick to one source though and find myself constantly looking at different ceramics, illustrators, designers, photographers, fashion designers (Cecilie Bahnsen for the moment) and I watch a lot of films.

Madeline ODonoghue Surf Poster her waves

What is your life ambition?

To keep making work, to spend more time painting and to live a simple life where creative work keeps progressing - travel is a big part of this and really important for me. I would love to visit Hawaii, New Caledonia and return to LA at some point.

* Of course, I would also love a little surf shack in the forest, with a big studio and a small drive away to some empty waves, but one can only dream!

Madeline ODonoghue Beach Bodies her wavesMadeline ODonoghue and Doggie her waves

Do you surf? If yes, where are your favorite places to surf?

Yes, I surf! I'm not one to chase big waves, but I do have some favorite little spots dotted around; The Pass in Byron Bay, Waihi Beach in New Zealand, Mondos in Ventura and Venice Breakwater in LA (purely because it's where I had my humble beginnings and therefore has some great memories).

 Madeline ODonoghue Byron Bay Poster her waves

madeline odonoghue surf art

Learn more about Madeline O'Donoghue and see all her work: 




her waves vintage summer collection

I’m inspired by the water, the sun, the moon, and the stars. My countless wipeouts, my dreams of noseriding, and the feeling I get when sliding across the face of a wave.

Meg Jacovino