2023 Newsfeed

Meet Levi Bourke, a young Canberran artist

A young man dressed in black sits in a park

The Canberra art scene has been thriving in recent years, with a growing number of local artists making a name for themselves. One such artist is Levi Bourke, whose passion for art dates back to his childhood.

He has always had a natural inclination towards creativity, and his artistic pursuits have taken him on a journey of self-discovery and expression. I sat down with Levi to learn about his artistry and explore the inspirations, mediums, and messages that shape his work.

With his unique approach to the creative process and his dedication to exploring themes of mental health, love, and emotion, Levi is an artist who truly deserves our attention.

So, let’s take a closer look at what makes Levi stand out in the Canberra art scene and why his art is something that everyone should experience.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in art and when did you realise you wanted to become an artist?

A: I’ve always been interested in art, ever since I was a kid, literally ever since I could pick up a pencil. When I was in preschool my parents were always saying ‘oh my gosh you’re always drawing all the time!’ I used to say as a kid, I either wanted to be a pop star or an artist. I can’t sing and I can’t dance so… 

Art was the thing that really stuck. I’ve always gone back to it, always wanted to do something in a creative field. I always just knew.

A painting of two colourful rats, one red and one blue.
Art and photo by Levi Bourke
Q: How do you usually approach the creative process, could you walk us through your typical routine?

A: It’s not the same every time, but for me sometimes I just go ‘okay I want to use these colours or this medium’ and I just start. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Or I start painting what I feel with whatever medium and colours I feel like using.

Sometimes I’ll have a specific picture in my head and I just need to get it out! Or perhaps I’ll be feeling like ‘I want to do this colourful skull or an idea that conveys this emotion’, again sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. 

Those are the two moods I have when it comes to my creative process.

A painting of a bright and multicoloured skull with mushrooms growing out of its eye sockets.
Art and photo by Levi Bourke
Q: What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

A: Favourite medium, that’s a hard one.

I really like having a bright colourful background and using a contrasting media on top, if I’m doing something simple in my sketchbook. Like bright paint or bright ink as the background and then draw a person that’s lined with black ink over the top, giving you that contrast.

Or  I like gouache paint, that’s really fun. And oils if i really want to get really messy and do a big piece on canvas

Gouache paint is a mix between acrylic and watercolour, you can activate it with water but it’s very bright and opaque. The colours are really nice.

Those are probably my top 3, quite often I’ll even do mixed medium with them. 

A painting of a red hand and a blue hand reaching out to each other.
Art and photo by Levi Bourke
Q: Who are some of your biggest influences

A: I see a lot of people on Instagram where I really love their style.

I still have a few friends from high school who I really connected with, because we were all just introverts painting and drawing together. Those friends inspire me.

A painting of three faces blurred and morphed together.
Art and photo by Levi Bourke
Q. Do you have any goals you’re aiming for?

A: I really want to do an exhibition. I know a friend that did a small exhibition in Aubrey. So I was looking at what she did and thinking ‘oh I really want to do that!’ That’s a goal that I really want to achieve. To get my art out there, so people can see it. Also, to give me something to work towards, helping me to be more ambitious with my art and setting aside time to get stuff done. Having that goal gives me something to strive towards, it’ll really help me put myself out there. 

A pencil sketch of an arm reaching out to stop someone else by their arm.
Art and photo by Levi Bourke
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring young artists in Canberra who might be starting their creative journey?

A: This is both to hold myself accountable and for other people, definitely set aside time to get your ideas out there. Even if you’re busy, set aside a day a week to really be by yourself with your art and creative side. Keep on getting practice in but also ask around and see if there’s any groups you could join. Even joining a group online, like Canberra Art Society would be fun to join in, you can then step out and see what events are going on. I know that Canberra has a  lot of markets, that could be an option to get involved with too for selling art or cute little prints. 

A painting of a colourful skull against a red and blue background.
Art and photo by Levi Bourke
Q: What do you hope to communicate through your art and what messages or ideas do you try to convey?

A: It’s different each time I have an idea for a piece, but usually I try to convey something to do with mental health or love or some sort of emotion that’s hard to convey otherwise. I also do a bit of poetry as well, so I’ll do visual art and written art too. I find a way to convey an emotion that without such utensils it would be difficult to communicate. I often have aspects of nature within my art. Beauty, mental health, love and those difficult emotions are my main themes. Art can really say anything you want it too. 

A painting of a pink cupid with a bow against a read background.
Art and photo by Levi Bourke
Q: Do you have anything else you’d want to share for other young artists or someone trying to get into art?

A: If you’re trying to get into art or getting yourself out there, just go for it and practice! Even if you’re not good at it straight away. A lot of people have said to me ‘oh you’re so talented!’, and I go well no, I’ve had an interest in art ever since I was a little kid. If you end up drawing and painting for many years, you start naturally building up that skill. If you’re not good straight away, that’s okay! Us as people, we beat ourselves up when we’re not good at something, I say just practice it. It’s not talent, it’s skill, you’ve got to build it up. That would be the main advice I would give.

Original photo by Hannah Flynn