Interview: Brad Novak

Who are you and how did you become a printmaker?
Brad Novak
Painter, Printmaker and Doctor
Born in Auckland New Zealand with Croatian Heritage.
Website –

The ‘story’ of how I became a printmaker began over 10 years ago
on my overseas experience while living in the UK.
My then girlfriend Katrina (now my wonderful wife) introduced me
to contemporary art on a visit to the Tate Modern in London.
I’m happy to admit that originally my understanding of what constituted art,
(or 'good art') was very narrow... and that was realism.
She challenged me to make my own artwork on returning to NZ,
and the rest as they say is history.

Since that day I have become an avid studier of art –
I’ve read tonnes of art books, talked to loads of people about art,
been lucky enough to visit museums and galleries around the world,
and of course worked hard to develop my own artistic career.
This started with painting, but around 3 years ago I was drawn to try print making
as another way to express my creative ideas but also to get my work out to a larger audience.
I was lucky enough to meet two of NZ’s top printmakers, Tony Ogle and Michael Smither.
And they were both extremely generous with their time and advice,
even offering to teach me a little of the vast knowledge they have attained – this was so helpful.

Brad Novak, Reservoir Birds of NZ 1.1, 2010
Screenprint, 56x76cm, edition of 80

What is your favourite thing about printmaking?
The process!
I have only tried screen printing to date and I love the whole process.
Of course this starts with an idea, which then needs to be ‘drawn’ in some way
and transferred onto light sensitive emulsion within screens.
Even though you have a good idea of what the final artwork is going to look like
I have increasingly started introducing more ad hoc decisions during printing.
This means that rather than simply creating an idea and printing it...
the artwork may actually change during the printing process.

This includes things like changing colours at the last minute or during printing,
adding in changes as we go, or intentionally introducing ‘flaws’
to give each print in the edition its own individuality.

Describe your most memorable printmaking moment.
It would have to be creating my first screen print and seeing the edition sell out.
The challenging thing about producing a ‘true’ edition
is that the entire 80 or so prints are completed up front and of course that costs a lot.
So seeing an image really resonate with the art buying public is such a pleasure.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a few of these and I don’t take it for granted.

Brad Novak printing Hope for Canterbury (after Warhol)

What or who influences your work and/or subject matter?
I am strongly influenced by the Pop artists of the US in the 1960’s like Lichtenstein and Warhol.
I love the fact they took everyday things and made them into fine art – genius.
Several NZ artists have influenced me too:
Bill Hammond, Michael Smither, Gordon Walters and Max Gimblett.

Brad Novak, Eye Chart for Rugby Fever 1.1, 2011
Screenprint, 76x53, edition of 80
Can you offer one small piece of advice to share with other NZ Printmakers?
Keep producing! Ignore the tall poppies or the knockers.
Also, if an edition doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped just keep going.
Your next print could be your best.
Oh and talk to other artists – it can be an isolating career
and one of the most enjoyable things I’ve found is developing great friendships
with lots of people who have very similar interests to me.