artist creative living inventor Feb 09, 2021



My guest today is Cam Scott who is a street & gallery artist and diversified maker who goes under the name of NOTNOT. He was born in New York, but grew up in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, where you can see his street art all over the community.

He studied fine art at the University of New South Wales and has been exhibited in numerous shows both here and abroad. Predominantly working with reflective and transparent materials, his unconventional printmaking practice merges digital and analogue processes.

He’s an artist, a surfer and an inventor. You may know his Digital Realities Street Art which he talks about in his TEDx Talk and in his new book. He’s also the creator of Sunnys Eyewear and more.

In today episode we chatted all about living an as artist outside of societal norms, Cam’s many inventions and the value of community exchange projects including his North Bondi Board Share:

  • [2.28] Cam wanted to be an inventor, he used to draw himself with a white coat and test tubes. Now he does make things: surf boards and sunnies, just more on the creative side than the science side
  • [3.20] He loves finless surfing, an offshoot of surfing. It’s where surfing all began in Hawaii. There’s been a resurgence and it’s been popularised by people like Tom Wegener, and Cam fell in love with it. Cam makes wooden boards and adds foam so it’s easier to catch and more fun to ride. Cam is playing with shapes outside of the norm.
  • [5.13] He also made a Christmas tree for Bondi’s QT based on the surf boards he makes for the community. After making them for the tree, he realised some looked surfable, so he took them out for a surf!
  • [6.15] Cam’s been working as an artist for over a decade. It wasn’t a conscious decision at the age of 12 to become an artist. But he was bored, and surf was probably terrible, so he started to cut cheesy Marilyn Monroe stencils in fluro pink and putting them up around Bronte. There is something about working in public space.
  • [7.24] Studied at UNSW and print making course at the fine art college on oxford street. After uni was torn between a marketing profession and did some of that but kept making art alongside. 
  • [8.10] Leaving media: he did have strong tethers to the media landscape or dependents like a small child. It happened organically over time. He started with sporadic things, such as the Iconic , then he realised he needed to prioritise other things. Did six-month roles for festivals. Now, he works casually at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), to keep the time between invoices more regular. He can also get worried about constant income coming in.
  • [9.54] Cam’s book is on sale at the MCA. A public series of art called Digital Realities for five years. It evolved from the interest around how social media affects us, the pressures and addictions. And it’s expanded to AI effect on the art world and if tech giants more powerful that nation states. All those works and ideas have gone into a book.
  • [12.15] Cam is prolific in Bondi – but less so outside the “Bondi Bubble”! He doesn’t come from a graffiti background, so he is cautious about where he adds art to ensure that it enriches the space.
  • [13.00] Street art permissions: it’s a grey area and Cam tries to exaggerate the grey! The council has hired Cam to paint traffic utility boxes to stop bill posters going up. Works if the bill posters respect the art.
  • [14.50] Graffiti is about taking space, bravado, putting their name on it and making that public arena their own. Street art is about making it better. People are so accepting of advertising, when they have no approval whatsoever and in some people’s minds it has no more of a right to be there than an artist that is trying to make the space better
  • [16.35] How NOTNOT came about. Initially not signing his work, but Cam’s friends thought he should start signing it. If you stand by your work and believe it should be there you should put your name against it.
  • [17.46] Designing his lifestyle: turning something interesting into something that can sustain you. Art and making surfboards were organic and then sunnies were a conscious decision. He has such a collection not getting worn, he reshaped the lens and edit the frames and make them more interesting. They provided popular so he got them made overseas.
  • [19.25] Pat, from Sunburnt Mess (the best surf ship in Bondi!) helped gave advice around getting them produced. Cam worked with the Fred Hollows Foundation on a Vivid installation. They offer eye surgeries to return peoples sight. He decided that $5 of every pair of Sunnys goes direct to the Foundation.
  • [20.23] Passion and collection of sunnies into earning him money. You can find them on here, or at Sunburnt Mess, MCA and couple of other stores in Melbourne and now at the markets in Bondi.
  • [21.00] Surf hats: based on Legionnaires hat, he has created a design that connects to the wetsuit zip so you don’t lose it in the surf.
  • [23.30] The creative process, where Cam looks to for inspiration: it’s a tough one, you don’t have a lightning bolt of an idea, doesn’t always work that way. Standing at the MCA, thinking of ways to represent things visually. It can be hard to summarise intricacies of an idea in 2D form.
  • [25.40] The idea of the original can be detrimental.  All things come from our environment, it’s your interpretation. Romanticism created the idea of the original and before that understood the idea of reinventing.
  • [26.00] Romanticism period came up with the idea of the original. Copies being pejorative, the original thing is seen less valuable. That was the first physical copying that didn’t take years. How we have always learnt is taking a word that someone says and putting it in your own sentence. It’s so important to how we learn and expand who we are.
  • [28.30] Interpretation of work: great worry for an artist, that someone will see something that you didn’t want to communicate in it. First Digital Realities work, people saw it as an indictment of technology, social media is hell. Cam wrote something to explain it.
  • [30.30] North Bondi Board Share is all about community custodianship. He is completely enamoured with foam boards, he has a huge collection so he fixes them up and repurposes them. He straps it to a fence in North Bondi labels it: North Bondi Board Share and the words “Yours to rip and return”.
  • [32.40] Shared value in community exchange. The pull towards individualisation, rather than shared experiences. Increasing shrinking of common spaces, the values and items that create that commonality between people.
  • [35.30] One of the North Bondi Board Share boards escaped on a train from Bondi. One of Cam’s friends saw it and Cam when on speaker phone to give him a bit of a spray. But the legend brought it back a day later! Such a great thing to see a guy nick and board and bring it back!
  • [37.17] Cam’s tips for being an artist: standing against societal pressures is more of an uphill battle than he thought. I thought I don’t need much cash or stability. Society says live a certain way, work a certain way. It’s very subtle and nobody tells you it. But you feel like you’re out there on a limb. It’s hard to avoid comparisons to people with a stable, structured formulaic way of living. Be prepared for subtle societal pressures.
  • [38.00] It’s the best way you can live. Offers variety and a more natural way of living which suits our physiology. Be prepared to be outside the norm. You need to be quite strong to situate yourself in a different way.
  • [40.40] Surfers and running! It’s about…excitement! Running gets some heat going before you get in the water! It’s nice to run!
  • [42.00] More gallery work coming! Twenty Twenty Six Gallery on O’Brien Street, Bondi. Cam’s exhibition of Oceanic Abstractions was postponed in January due to Covid, but coming up soon.

You can follow his adventures on Instagram or visit this website.

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