A Sense of Belonging
“I’m quite an impatient artist,” Lisa Nicole Moes laughed from her home and workplace in Wānaka, New Zealand. “Once I have an idea, I just want to start.”
Moes studied illustration and design at Massey University and began her career in traditional mediums like watercolors and oil paints. But as the 33-year-old Kiwi artist’s style evolved, so did her canvas.
“If you work traditionally, you need to really think about what you are going to do before you put something down on paper—once you put something down, it’s down. But I love the digital medium now because you can just start something and not worry about wasting a canvas.”
“You can work superfast and make changes,” Moes continued. “[Digital] gives me a lot of freedom to start something without planning or thinking about composition. Everything is on layers, so I can start and move things up or down or mess with the colors after.”
Moes’s work reflects her passion for wild mountainous landscapes, particularly around her home on the South Island. Vivid and embellished colors complement a bold style reminiscent of the twentieth-century travel posters from which Moes draws much of her inspiration.
“I’ve always loved travel posters,” said Moes. There’s a certain feeling you get from them—a photograph doesn’t do it. They have that romanticism about the place you couldn’t capture with a camera.
Moes’ work straddles the line between detailed depiction and imaginative interpretation. Personal experiences and photographic references construct a foundation for her art, but it’s a loose framework that doesn’t restrict impulsive creativity. Colors change, and the scale may be exaggerated, but what remains is something more intrinsic than the literal appearance: a feeling.
Finding that feeling — “the general vibe of a place,” as Moes puts it—is a product of immersion in those environments. Moes learned to ski and snowboard as a child but wasn’t overly inspired by New Zealand’s resort scene. Four years ago, she discovered splitboarding, which reignited her passion for sliding on snow. In doing so, she also reinvigorated her art.
“[Splitboarding] has been super inspiring for creating art,” Moes reflected. “Those are the pieces I’m most proud of—they mean the most to me as there is an experience attached.”
“I feel like I can’t do the art justice if I haven’t experienced it,” she continued. “I need the little details—some alpine flowers you wouldn’t have seen or a Kea (New Zealand’s alpine parrot) flying overhead—things that aren’t always in a photograph, but you pick them up when you’re there.”
Adventures around her home in Wānaka, Mount Cook, and Milford Sound fuel future artistic endeavours. Moes has a few bucket list travel destinations—Antarctica, for one—that she’d love to bring to life in her art. But by and large, she’s appreciative of and inspired by her home.
“Wanaka is a special place and a very spiritual place,” said Moes. “The people who live here want to be here. Everyone is so stoked on life and the outdoors, and there are no big egos—everyone is welcoming, patient, and supportive even if you’re not as skilled. The landscape is gorgeous and inspiring for an artist. It’s the perfect adventure hub.”