Every time I see Tracy Naughton she’s smiling - happy coincidence, or is there something else at play?
Let Me Sea is the labour of love - and flourishing business - created by Tracy, which forms the colourful umbrella for her various artistic ventures. This lady is one creatively multi-talented soul; a freelance photographer, talented artist and exhibition co-ordinator, she seems to bring a sense of refreshing lightness to everything she creates and produces.
I first met Tracy when, by pure coincidence, I came across a little pop-up shop she was holding at Cotton Tree for her now signature plywood pieces. Combining her striking photographic images with beautiful typography and then printing the image on to a textual plywood medium, her art works are each unique and tactile - with an unmistakably playful vibe. Although her featured subjects vary - from surf images and Sunny Coast icons, to posed forms and pop culture inspired pieces - there is an underlying sense of joy and freedom attached to each of her works.
Talking with Tracy, you get a sense of the passion that fuels her love of art in all forms, and the joy she gains from the creative journey. This joy tends to radiate out of her when she discusses the various people she has met and been inspired by from the local creative community - she's a Sunny Coast creative ambassador in the truest sense of the word.
It's refreshingly obvious that Tracy loves what she does and excels at living her happiness mantra - “That moment when joy and spirit collide to fill up your soul, and make you feel stoked to be alive.” Her creative passion seems to fuel her unabashed happiness and she wilfully passes it on, though her unique work and her very generous smiles.
What’s your Sunshine Coast story Tracy? What brought you here and how long have you
lived on the coast?
Family and our love of travelling - it all started over 30 years ago with my grandparents who had travelled to many countries all over the world. Originally from New Zealand, they started coming to the Sunshine Coast for the duration of the NZ winter. My parents moved to Sydney from NZ in 1997 for my fathers work where they stayed for three and a half years before moving to the Coast permanently in 2001. Meanwhile I had travelled overseas met and fallen in love with my husband who was also a kiwi. As he was from the South Island and me from the North we decided to choose another island altogether - Australia!. We tried Sydney for a while but eventually followed family up to the Coast and have never looked back since.
When, and how, did Let Me Sea begin?
Well I've always been into my art since I was little and after having children of my own I decided I wanted to pursue my dream of making beautiful images - and people wanted to buy them. It was now or never basically and I wanted to be able to be there for my kids as well so working from home seemed like the perfect solution. I started out in the art world with drawing and painting then turned my attention to photography - to me it was the perfect partnership to draw from inspiration that surrounded me everyday. My daughter was actually the one who gave me my business name - she would always say to me as I was taking the photos 'Let Me See Let Me See' and my husband suggested I use the double entendre. So in 2010 Let Me Sea was born, and its basically an umbrella for anything I want to do creatively.
Your gorgeous photographic artworks are so visually tactile - can you describe the process that takes you from the initial concept to the finished piece?
Firstly thank you, it makes me feel very grateful when people actually like what I do! So my works are quite a process really. They come together both randomly and thoughtfully, if that makes sense? It's like when things just happen but somehow you made them happen, and they all fall in together to make something loveable and sought after. So things either happen randomly where I happen to be in the right place at the right time and I can use an image to add something to or, more often than not, it's ideas I have visualised that I can see working with the things that inspire me. I then marry that image to an artwork that I have been working on and hopefully it all comes together to create something original unique and pretty.
What are the main sources of inspiration that fuel your work?
So many things inspire me but my main inspiration is from freedom and finding that moment where you feel completely free whether it be from a childhood memory, a favourite song, nature and art everything mashed up together to create an image of free. Music is also a major influence in me and my work - I always have a song playing or something linked to images.
Do you have any future ventures/exhibitions for Let Me Sea planned that you’d like to share?
I always have visions of future exhibitions dreams and ideas - when they will happen is just a matter of the stars aligning!
What are the best things about being your own creative boss?
Being able to be there for my kids and family. No guidelines except for the ones I set myself, really the possibilities are endless.
Where would you like to see the business in a years time? Two years?
At a place where people are still loving my work and being able to evolve and create in new and different ways and of course, to a wider audience.
Fav Sunny Coast designer/artisan?
There are so many great designers and artisans on our coast its hard to choose one!
Fav Sunny Coast retail outlet/s?
The Lovely Bird in Cotton Tree. Tanya is just so awesome full of encouragement and enthusiasm, she's the loveliest bird! Gypsy Stone in Mooloolaba - these girls are killing it; inspirational and lovely but also have their heads screwed on right. Surf meets Southwest in Noosa - my kinda shop bliss...
Fav Sunny Coast cafe/restaurant/foodie paradise?
I'm coeliac so anywhere that knows what they are talking about when it comes to gluten free is especially high on the list. Wow I actually have a lot of places - shall I list them all?
Harvest for absolutely beautiful fine food in Coolum. The Piano Bar - the food is out of this world! I also love Raw Energy at Peregian Beach - they make the best gluten free sandwiches. Honey & Husk in Nambour is a definite for the cake connoisseur. I also love cafe Envy's vibe and support of local artists... Wow, there's more but I think I'll stop here!
Fav Sunny Coast weekend routine?
My fave routine on the weekend would be to get up go for a run and a swim at the beach, pancakes for breakfast, head to the markets, find sweet things, come home, chill, then hang with friends - Bliss!
Fav Sunny Coast icon/landmark?!
The Island and Mt Coolum - so uniquely ours.
Fav Sunny Coast hangout?
Any place with good friends good champagne good music and good vibes. xx
You can keep in the loop with upcoming exhibitions and purchase Tracy's unique pieces through her website Let Me Sea. Check in with her Facebook page, Instagram feed, or drop by and say hi at the Nights on Ocean markets at Maroochydore, which are held the second Friday of every month :)