The Art of Courtney Barnett

Barnett’s illustrations are much like her songs: simple, familiar, and totally lacking in bullshit.

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Mar 11 2015, 2:00pm


Image: Ben Thomson

Last night Courtney Barnett debuted her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit to a room full of friends and media types at Melbourne’s 1000 £ Bend.

She told us earlier that she was more nervous playing this intimate show than she was headlining the Golden Plains festival on the weekend. But butterflies or not, Courtney and her band rocked, the new songs sounded ace, her friends and media drank free booze and everyone went home happy.

We headed down to the venue earlier in the day to have a chat to Courtney as she was hanging pictures of her artwork. A collection of simple black and white illustrations of different varieties of chairs.

Barnett illustrates and does art for her own records and record label Milk. Like her songs they are simple, familiar and non-bullshit.

Noisey: You studied art right?
Courtney Barnett: Yeah I did two years of art school but it was straight out of high school and I didn’t really apply myself. I’m definitely no master.

Was it because you were focusing more music?
Yeah that was the problem. I started not doing my homework and focusing everything on writing songs and staying out late, playing gigs and going to gigs. But I can understand like music it definitely helps to practice and hone your craft.

Some of your art has a David Shrigley vibe happening.
Yeah the cool thing about that was that I didn’t know who he was until I went to his recent exhibition at the NGV and then it was “Wow, this is what is my head!” Only ten million times better. Ha!

Why chairs?
I had books of drawings of the album art and I had the title Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit , and I thought, "OK, chairs." So I just started doodling and then before I knew it I had a big collection of chair pictures. And I had all these out takes and thought I could do something with these. They are all real chairs too.

So you’d be at someone’s place and say “Nice chair. Do you mind if I draw it?”
Haha, yeah just lots of doodling. Everyone has chairs and my Dad used to collect old chairs and do them up. It would piss Mum off because they would be scattered around.

Do you have a favorite chair pic?
Probably, "Strange Wooden Chair That Nobody Sits On." Everyone goes to sit on it when they come around but it feels like it’s going to break. We can’t throw it out because it’s like an antique. It just sits there.

"Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit" is available March 20 on CD, vinyl, deluxe double vinyl and digital through Milk!/Remote Control (Australia) and Mom + Pop (internationally).

Courtney Barnett Tour Dates

May 1st - Adelaide at The Gov
May 2nd - Perth at The Bakery
May 8th - Sydney at The Metro
May 9th - Brisbane at The Hifi
May 15th - Melbourne at The Forum