Mick Egan; The boy from the bush, with not the easiest of upbringings. Made the pilgrimage to the big city to study fine art at the VCA (Victorian College of the Arts), a far cry from his hometown digs, and expectations, of playing footy and sinking cans as a man’s man.
Mick revelled in this education, but as often is the case, saw little to no concrete opportunity to make a livable income from his newly acquired knowledge and skills. The student becomes the teacher, or “the starving artist” journey seemingly the only options.
Mick picked up a paintbrush of another kind and painted many a house, up and down the coast, whilst living in an old farmhouse with his partner Tan, on her parents’ property outside of Anglesea. Next on the agenda was a career change of radical proportions, and through an equally difficult path cut through the quagmire that was the surf industry. Mick’s partner Tan had been working in the surf industry for several years, in a design role and knew of challenges of getting through the door, then maintaining a position in companies with highly “clicky” internal cultures.
If you want to work your way up from the bottom, then managing stock in the warehouse seems like a great place to start! And so Mick did, getting in on the ground floor, with the much smaller local operator Strapper. Jumping in to manage the growing need for a warehouse within the Strapper business model. Mick learnt on his feet and worked with Michael Di Sciascio in a growth phase for Strapper that included implementing new systems, training and supporting junior staff.
Making the leap from managing a warehouse to designing apparel for a global brand is no mean feat. But is what Mick managed to do with his move to Globe. Developing a portfolio of his own with the guidance of Tan and the confidence to sell himself into a role, he admittedly was a little “late to the party” for, compared to traditional career paths. Mick secured his position at Globe and proceeded to put in the hours and sustained effort to ensure he became an indispensable part of the team. Later, a move to Rip Curl, which included a sojourn to California for 2 years, now with a young family in tow. With the mission of rescuing the ailing US design department. A return to Australia and a move to Quiksilver, then a departure from the surf industry into true vertical retail giant, Target Australia, and finally to one of the world’s fastest-growing businesses, the Cotton On Group and Typo, finally settling at Stage Two, with a role that allows him better access, once again to his own time.
From kicking footballs in country Victoria to managing a team of creatives, developing product lines for one of Australia’s fastest moving retailers. It’s hard to imagine, or is it, that a true artist lives behind this journey?
Mick paints from the heart, he’s not a starving artist, but he surely lives each and every stroke, scrape and rub back of his paintings and drawings.
Sublime Interaction / watercolour on paper / 21×29.7cm framed
K’n Hoons / watercolour on paper / 15x21cm framed
With an insatiable appetite for history and art, his practice is informed by what has gone before and what he feels most important. His immersive responses to the environment and European settlement are textural and vibrant, with a tactile nature that evokes a sense of tapestry. And, that’s what they are in a sense, tapestries of the landscape, a compositional combination of traditional landscape with elements of clear topographic interpretation, that aim to tell the story of a place, so heavily affected by the hand of (relatively recent) European settlement on an ancient land.