Award-winning young artist Sean Hill shares the things that inspire him.

Sean Hill is the 17-year-old winner of the Te Tuhi Youth Art Award, with his vibrant illustration of colourful characters emerging from a wristwatch. The award is open to high school artists in the Auckland region, with almost 100 submissions this year.

Six student artists were chosen to partake in a three-day art workshop to develop their creative skills and create work currently exhibited at the Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts until November 11. Hill's winning piece is on display on a massive billboard outside the Telstra Clear Events Centre for the duration of the Southside Arts Festival.

"The idea behind my piece is that there are so many different possibilities that can come from a moment in time. The colours and characters represent the good, bad, exciting or dull experiences that can come along at any moment," he explains.

The Papakura High School student has been interested in art since he was 5 - a childhood self-portrait was one of his first forays into drawing - and he plans to study animation and graphic design at AUT next year; his ambition is to be a 3D animator. He tells us about some of his favourite things.


1: Childhood self-portrait

I have a self-portrait drawing, which I drew in my first year of primary school. It was one of my first ever drawings and is where my passion for art began.

2: Te Tuhi Youth Art Award billboard

I am so proud to have my work up on this huge billboard on the Southern motorway. I learned a lot through the workshops which myself and five other finalists in the competition completed. I worked really hard on this piece but I still don't think it's sunk in yet that it is my work up there.

3: Sports

One of my other passions and favourite things to do is play sport, particularly soccer and rugby (this year I played in the 1st XV). I like that sport is something I can do with friends and that it keeps me active, both physically and mentally.

4: Family

My family is my support, inspiration and motivation for my artwork. They have always told me that hard work pays off and winning the Te Tuhi Youth Art Award is a great example of this. I'm so lucky to have a family that encourages me to follow my dreams.

5: Cap

My favourite hat. My Mum bought me this hat and I wear it all the time - especially when I'm drawing.

6: Comic books and figurines

These are what originally inspired me to start drawing characters, bodies, figures and hands. I started collecting them when I was 13 years old and it really helped me to find my own unique twist to what I create.

7: Cross necklace

My Mum gave me this necklace, and I keep it with me always. It represents what I believe in and keeps me humble.

8: Superman drawing

This was one of my first large drawings and I did this in 2008. It is a picture of Superman spread across six A3 sheets and I was really pleased with the final result. I often go back and look at it.

9: Art supplies

I can never go without them. They are all part of the process - they give me inspiration to create new art pieces and they help me to get into get in the zone.

10: PSP

Gaming has helped fuel my ambition to be a 3D animator and inspired some of the characters I create in my drawings.

Plus it is always fun playing the games; my favourite is Secret Agent Clank.