All posts by soniak



The Folly of Batmania (2016)  Oil on canvas, 760 x 560mm

A while back I heard the rumor that John Batman, famed “founder” of Melbourne, Australia, actually suffered from syphilis and had to wear a silver nose to cover his lack of a real one. Being from an age before photography, sadly any evidence of this was sorely lacking so I decided to see what it might have looked like for myself.

This painting, my first oil painting for many years, will be on display at the A1 Darebin Art Salon, on from August 27 – October 2, 2016 at Bundoora Homestead,  Cnr Snake Gully Drive and Prospect Hill Drive, Bundoora.

Greetings from Australia!


Very excited to finally receive this in the post – a “sticker” book featuring your favourite Australian animals, all created by your favourite Australian illustrators. Produced in conjunction with the Jacky Winter Group and Thames and Hudson, I got to interpret the iconic emu – in a scene inspired from trips through Woomera and further into Western Australia. I used a combination of collage (cut up newspapers), paint, and digital brushes and textures. More info about this fabulous little book can be found at:




Jumping into The River with Bruce


A portrait of Bruce Springsteen that I recently completed in currently gracing the pages of Rolling Stone Australia (December 2015 edition). I was asked to imagine him circa the release of his album ‘The River’; and I was surprised to find that it was quite an evocative idea – I guess we all have images of musicians / popular culture icons embedded in our imaginations, even if we can’t call ourselves die hard fans. But of course my appreciation of Bruce has matured as I myself have, almost to the point that I can appreciate ‘Born in the USA’ as a cultural touchstone, even though it is an anthem that I wouldn’t nominate as a desert island disc.

Cameron, the art director, suggested a textural / painterly approach, so I painted directly onto ply with acrylic and added some line work in the shirt etc. after the piece was scanned. As mentioned, the idea and composition came quite easily – after all, you don’t mess with Bruce 🙂

smokey vs. bruce
Smokey enjoys reading the reviews in Rolling Stone

Putting my stamp on Christmas 2015

Traditional Christmas_65c_400

Finally I’m able to share my 2015 Australia Post stamps with you! I remember back in my design college days, I actually set myself a stamp series as an assignment , and as a kid I subscribed to the Stamp Bulletin and collected first day covers and presentation packs – so in a way it was finally a ‘dream’ come true. There will be a bit of upcoming press coverage as well, so I’ll post any links when they are available.

When I was told that I was pegged to do the traditional Christmas themed stamps, I was a bit wary – not being particularly religious myself – but I do have an appreciation of the importance of the story of the Nativity, particularly at this time when the Middle East is in such strife and there are countless homeless “Marys” giving birth in less than ideal circumstances even today. I think if anything, the story reinforces the idea of the importance of providing a safe haven – and the good to us all that can come from it. When imagining Mary, I wanted her to have an ambiguous skin colour – an attempt to move away from the tradition of depicting pale Europeans lost in the desert – so I boosted the colour palette, creating a scene that evokes the hues of the season whilst keeping the symbolism of the main characters.

I have been asked by a few people about the prevalence of animals in the design… I did want to put the other stable inhabitants on an equal footing with the rest of the story. Given the way most people regard farm animals, especially during the festive season, I wanted to celebrate their beauty and sacrifice at this time of year as well.

Anyway, these are some of my thought processes behind the image – I’m sure, and I hope, that you will view it in your own way too.

All of the stamps are now available online via the Australia Post shop

I was also featured in an article about Christmas stamps published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21/11/15

All images © Australian Postal Corporation 2015. This material has been reproduced with permission of Australia Post.

Traditional Christmas_255c_400

Traditional Christmas Minisheet

IA 9×5 Exhibition


We are fast approaching the 19th Illustrators Australia 9×5 show – for those of you who have no idea what that means, where the hot hades have you been?! To get you up to speed, many years ago – I think it was 1995? – the committee of Illustrators Australia decided on creating a unique exhibition, in which members could contribute new, original work on a theme. The main criteria was that the work had to use a 9×5 inch piece of plywood as its base. Fast forward to 2015,  and the chosen theme is “Playtime” – and you are all invited to attend the exhibition opening at the Abbotsford Convent on November 13, 6pm onwards. All works will be available for auction  with a reserve of AUD$195. For those who can’t make it, you are welcome to make an offer online and IA will bid on your behalf. A preview of the show is  available here .

My piece, above, has been inspired by kitten observations and is entitled “It’s all Fun and Games until Someone Loses an Eye”

Illustrators Australia Awards

The latest ‘Illustrators Australia Awards’ have just been announced, and happy to say that my two entries scored a mention – firstly, my cover for Carole Wilkinson’s ‘Shadow Sister’ (Published by Black Dog / Walker Books) received a ‘Silver’ Commendation in the Books / Single category.

Shadow Sister
Shadow Sister

My other entry unfortunately is under embargo until October 31, 2015 – even though the artwork has been in the pipeline for 18 months or so! Happy to announce that I was commissioned to provide the artwork for Australia Post’s 2015 ‘Traditional Christmas’ stamps, which received a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Institutional / Series category. Can’t wait to show you the artwork , but until then, all I can show is this:


Many thanks to the judges Anita Kunz, Tim Claeys, Lisa Berryman, Bil Donovan and Peter Viska – The rest of the results can be viewed here.

Risographica! 3

My work will be featuring in an upcoming group show at Lamington Drive in Collingwood next week (for those of you who don’t know, Lamington Drive is the gallery of everyone’s favourite Illustration Agency ‘Jacky Winter Group’). Every few years they invite artists to create artwork for a ‘Risograph’ – which is a kind of a newfangled / oldfangled copy machine with limited but seemingly crazy colours.

For this show, everyone was limited to two colours. To give you some idea about how these prints are made, here is the artwork I supplied:


The picture on the left will be printed in fluoro pink, whilst the image on the left is destined to be yellow. All in all, you never know quite what to expect – how the colours will mix when overprinted, and indeed if the paper itself will  line up properly… happy to say I don’t think it turned out too badly:


This group exhibition will see ’28 of Jacky Winter’s finest’ explore the medium of the A3 2-colour Risograph. All works will be sold in limited editions of 10 for $50.00 each, with all profits during the exhibition going to Oxfam’s International Crisis Fund – supporting the response to humanitarian crises worldwide, by helping those most in need when a natural or a man-made emergency occurs.

Opening night is Wednesday October 14, 6-9pm.
The exhibition runs October 15 – November 7, 2015.

Lamington Drive – 101a Sackville Street Collingwood

Artists include:

Andrea Innocent, Beci Orpin, Bobby Haiqalsyah, Craig & Karl, Eamon Donnelly, Eirian Chapman, Emma Leonard, Gemma O’Brien, Georgia Perry, Guy Shield, He She It They I, James Gulliver Hancock, Karl Kwasny, Kat Chadwick, Kate Banazi, Lachlan Conn, Lilly Piri, Madeleine Stamer, Mel Matthews, Mel Stringer, Neryl Walker, Oslo Davis, Ross Murray, Sean Morris, Sonia Kretschmar, Sophie Blackhall-Cain, Timba Smits, Travis Price


Bowerbird – Portrait of Kate Durham


It’s Archibald portrait time of year again – and for many years I have wanted to do a portrait of Kate Durham – Melbourne artist, jewellery maker and ‘activist’ of sorts. When I started out on my own “artistic journey” many years ago, Kate was one of the few Melbourne based female artists who, along with Mirka Mora, seemed larger than life / exotic to me. Over the years I’ve been in peripheral contact with her, and it has been interesting to see how she has been developing both in her artistic work and her interest in politics and helping refugees at this dark time in Australia’s history. Her work is eclectic, her jewellery gathers up objects which to me look like they have washed up on the bank of a river in Mesopotamia, so it made sense to me to depict her as a kind of human Bowerbird, on the surface collecting objects for display whilst drawing upon a rich range of history and tragedy beneath.

Pussies galore

Over at my Redbubble page I’m feline crazy 🙂   As a foster carer of cats (I have 7 at the moment!) I have created a range of cat-inspired designs to help with the important rescue work of Melbourne based group Maneki Neko. This group rescues / rehomes cats that have found themselves homeless or in “death row pounds”, and the money goes towards vet care and desexing. They are also looking to establish an information centre to raise public awareness of the importance of adoption and desexing pets.

Until further notice, all of the profits from these designs will be donated towards these initiatives, so please go check them out – available on everything from a little sticker to a huge doona cover, and I’ll keep adding to the collection when possible.