Owen Dippie is a self-confessed fan of Renaissance art, he owns two pug dogs and works tirelessly alongside his wife/manager, Erin, in their studio on K’ Road. Owen paints and walks the dogs, Erin handles everything else. The couple’s mahi is beginning to pay off, with Owen making a name for himself overseas, selling work to famous rappers and working with New Zealand icons.
Originally from Kawerau, a tiny logging town in Eastern Bay of Plenty, Owen has taken his giant realist murals (and they are seriously huge) around the world and last year he impressed the pants off America. He had his first solo show in New York, selling a painting to T.I (yeah, that T.I) and even spoke to the rapper on the phone. While that would be enough for most people, he went on to have one of his murals featured as Huffington Post’s Mural of the Year, do a bunch of painting in LA and generally receive shitloads of praise.
But even with all this international success, his work is profoundly New Zealand. Cultural identity is a theme that runs strongly through Owen’s work. His affinity for Māoritanga is obvious, like his mural Hine, a portrait of his good friend Tania Cotter. Tania sits wearing tā moko, on Upper Queen Street, watching over Auckland’s twisting motorways.
This is how we build a nation.
In February he did a joint show, Ko Koe Ko Au (You and I), with activist and living legend Tame Iti. The show followed a collaboration when the pair worked on a mural in the town of Tāneatua. In a press release for the show, Tame spoke of their time working together: “My collaboration with Owen shows how Māori and non-Māori can work together for a common goal. This is how we build a nation.”