I had the fortunate chance to meet artist Edie Mitsuda during the sweet summer of '14 while we were both living on the island of Maui, Hawaii. We first met during a group walk on the beach with mutual friends. While everyone else was sifting through shells in the sand, Edie and I were the only two who decided to swim in the ocean. From that moment on I knew we'd be friends. When I learned she was an artist by stumbling upon her hand-painting her own wrapping paper one day, our friendship was just further solidified. 

We spent the summer hunting for the best kombucha at the farmer's market, swapping slang, watching the sunrise from Haleakala volcano, swimming and surfing. An Australian native, Edie is no stranger to the ocean; yet her humble demeanor made it easy for to hang with a newbie surfer like me. 

Our Maui crew exploring the island's jungles. // Photo by Tien Austin for Refunktion

We're now half a world away from each other, Edie in Australia and me in Central America, but we remain connected through emails and art. Most recently, Edie painted two pieces for Thread Caravan, one for our Oaxaca trip and one for our Guatemala trip. We caught up with Edie to hear more about her artistic style and what inspires her. Check it out:


How long have you been painting?

I’ve been painting for almost as long as I can remember - although only seriously in the last few years. Actually, seriously is probably not the best word to use in this instance, considering painting is not among the list of activities I do professionally (though I have no objections to that idea). 


What inspires your creations?

I’m particularly inspired by landscape. I live in regional Western Australia. Imagine the desert pushed right up against the ocean, where the highest level of altitude in a hundred mile radius from my home is about ninety feet above sea level. It’s flat, dry, and nobody can walk anywhere barefoot because of the hundreds of varieties of insanely spiky plants that grow about the place. Midwest Australia is a really harsh place, and I daresay quite ugly based on traditional standards of beauty, but that’s why I love it. I’m also very inspired by dogs.


How would you classify your artistic style?

Honestly I try not to think too much about style. I don’t know, I guess I find it personally kind of stressful. I’m definitely always looking at what other artists, illustrators and designers produce, and I’m sure that my work is probably an amalgamation of everything I’ve ever seen and liked over the past twenty-four years, but basically at the moment I treat each new work as a sort of experiment. I don’t think I know enough yet to give you a solid answer. I know I like colour and bold lines, though.


What's your creative process like? How much planning goes into it, or do you just wing it?

My life has always been a strange balance between borderline OCD-style organization and utter chaos. I would say that my creative process leans towards the latter (and arguably better) version of myself.


Can you tell us a little bit more about your agave goddess painting for Thread Caravan?

Sure. Well I should probably add to the list of things that inspire my creations: spiritual iconography and femininity. I’ve never been to Mexico, although I’m sure I’ll get there one day, but I have always loved the graphics and colours used in the Aztec codices, and when Caitlin told me there was such a thing as an Agave Goddess I knew that’s what I wanted to paint. I love portraying female figures, female energy, and non-western iconography, always keeping in mind the idea of cultural appropriation. There is a difference between appreciating art produced by people of colour and using it for a specific agenda.


How about your Guatemala painting for Thread Caravan?

Again, I haven’t made it to Guatemala yet; however, the idea of a place touting volcanoes surrounded by vibrant rainforest and colourful birds with tails longer than most small animals was almost impossible to resist for me. I love nearly all animals and the only ones around where I live seem to be poisonous or able to hurt you in some way.


Where can we see more of your work?

ediemitsuda.com and instagram.com/e_d_i_e


Any dreams for future creations?

Big colourful surfboard paintings depicting left hand point breaks, red dingo puppies and a full moon rising eerily over a Peruvian mountain range. 


We've printed Edie's agave goddess and Guatemalan paintings on Thread Caravan postcards which are currently being distributed guerilla-style around the world. Follow our Instagram to see if they're somewhere accessible to you.