“I live near forests and a beautiful coastline so there’s plenty to see and discover close by…I like to study the micro worlds…bugs, shells and the patterns on leaves….you can turn anything into a character when you add eyes.” 

One of Ian Mutch illustration characters lying in the sand eating a piece of watermelon whilst a Volkswagen Beetle sits parked nearby.
Beetle and beach mural. Photo by Harry Dodds.

Hailing from Western Australia, I met Ian Mutch in Singapore in 2012 at the Kult Gallery on Emily Hill.  He was an artist I knew well through his characters and his work with the legendary Kingbrown Magazine. He was also part of a wider Australian street art, graffiti and illustration movement that was gaining a lot of momentum in the late Noughties and early 2010s. This included artists such as The Yok, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Brad Eastman (Beastman), Numbskull and many more. 

Ian is one of the most chill artists I’ve known over the years. His work is firmly rooted in nature and the environment, portraying local flora and fauna. He likes to show his fun side with what he describes as his ‘silly characters’ which are inspired by anything and everything.

KINGBROWN MAGAZINE

It was through The Yok that I started to get to know Ian better. We had featured The Yok in Stickerbomb and we’d done quite a few projects together both commercially and for ourselves. We had also stocked KINGBROWN back when we had an online store..

“I started Kingbrown with my friend Yok around 2005. We wanted to feature great local artists alongside big name artists and uncover the movement that was happening at the time. We didn’t intentionally want to make a street art magazine but I liked the randomness of it – illustration, graffiti, design, painting, music, sculpture, skateboarding…and it was sold in a brown paper bag so we could include inserts like posters and stickers and have a sort of double cover to each issue (artwork on the brown bag and also the cover of the actual mag)...

KINGBROWN Issue 9

…We released 10 issues and had many exhibitions – Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, New York (almost Tokyo too, but I broke my leg snowboarding that trip). Lot’s of fun, travel, learning and booze. Everything running your own publication should probably have. You never know, we still might make issue 11 one day. Starting the magazine was an important stepping stone for me and it got me inspired to paint more. I was always drawing, but at the time, just out of art school, I was designing and art directing. I was able to learn more about the artists from around the world – relating to the streets, illustrators and low-brow cultures. We got to broaden our networks and meet lots of new people, also holding our own events and exhibitions. It was a real do-it-yourself approach.”

Mosman Park WA.
Merging beach themes and garden greens.

COMMERCIAL ILLUSTRATION VS FINE ART

Ian is also one of those rare artists who can reconcile the commercial side of art with being a fine illustrative artist. All types of artists struggle with that – some better than others. I personally feel if you can break up your style or offer different clients different skills from your repertoire you’d be well placed to do both, but it’s not as easy as that. And Ian is able to do it very well.

“These days they’re quite connected and both are rewarding and fun. Personal work has freedom and allows me to push more boundaries. Personal artworks include mural projects that are self initiated, legal or illegal. Also illustrations and paintings that I will create in the studio and then sell directly or in galleries. These days commercial work will come about from clients asking for my artwork style which is great. Or I’ll pitch for a job. Sometimes, I’ll purposely hold back some of my branded ‘personal’ characters for corporate work.”

Ian Mutch paiting a forest red tailed cockatoo
Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo., WORK IN PROGRESS. Photo by Stuart Mcmillan.

His style these days is what he would describe as planned chaos using nature and patterns in a storytelling manner. His work is most enjoyed from afar as a larger piece but when you view the work close up you see the characters, the illustrations and the stories.

NEW EXHIBITION AT THE MARGARET RIVER OPEN STUDIOS SEPTEMBER 2020

Ian has a new exhibition showcasing the paintings and drawings he’s created during Covid. He and a number of Margaret River, Western Australian artists have contributed to this showcase, opening the doors to their studios – we’re all just hoping now that restrictions have eased.


And if you can’t make it down to Western Australia you can check out his studio below. Ian will also be dropping some new prints soon which we’ll no doubt be talking about over here.

Ian Mutch Introduction by Margaret Street Open Studios

If you are interested in commissioning Ian, or need any type of illustration or motion graphics you can schedule a call with us right here.