Artist and designer finds fresh inspiration at wharf

Painter-cum-designer Rick Youmans reckons relocating his workplace to Raglan has put his life back on track. 

His business, Youmans Capsule, based in an industrial Te Rapa warehouse, in Hamilton, wasn’t getting any through traffic so in a bold move a few months back Rick moved it – along with an impressive selection of his mostly marine-themed art – into the last vacant shop space at Raglan Wharf.

The move “saved my life”, Rick told the Chronicle, after a difficult year in which he experienced the lows of both a marriage break-up and depression.

The keen yachtsman says that being right on the water, with his eight-metre catamaran often moored just beyond the shop frontage, is proving an “inspiring” environment to work in. He likes too that  “I have everything around me that I have done, and people in (the shop) all the time”.

He’s had really good feedback since setting up at the wharf, he adds, and is already generating sales.

The good vibe Rick feels at the wharf is reflected in the name he’s chosen for his new showroom-cum-workroom. It’ll go by the unusual name of ‘Inspiration Executed’ just as soon as he gets round to completing the signage.

That’s more of a statement than a phrase, he explains; a simple acknowledgement of creativity and making it happen.

Large oils and watercolours which “in any way, shape or form are about water” create a dramatic backdrop to the stylish, upmarket presentation cases or modules that Rick designs for professionals like architects and engineers who might otherwise have documents spilling out of folders.

The aluminium capsules – technically challenging to manufacture – are made only in Hamilton but have been sold throughout Australasia and Europe to a niche market for three years now.

Despite having travelled the world looking for manufacturers, Rick found his unique design could only become a reality through working alongside some innovative Hamilton and New Zealand companies.

That’s essentially what brought him back to the country recently after 12 years away as a Sydney-based designer.

 Hamilton didn’t hold much appeal as a place to live, however, so Rick shifted four years ago to a house perched high on Greenslade Rd. The property has breathtaking views of the harbour and its own steps down to a bay where he also moors his catamaran quite frequently so it gets to “dry out” at low tide.

Rick says he’s glad to be back on New Zealand’s west coast, having grown up and developed his love of sailing at Plimmerton, north of Wellington. From there he went on to Wellington Polytechnic – now a campus of Massey University – where he completed a diploma in graphic design.

 With a good representation of his life’s work now more or less in the one place, Rick’s feeling motivated to develop Youmans Capsule further. The company’s been something of a  “sleeping tiger” for a while, he says, and he’s keen to consider customised business support through the likes of the Hamilton-based SODA Inc programme.

Meantime, Rick continues to indulge his lifelong passion for painting – which he sells throughout New Zealand, Australia and Singapore – and is ready to tackle new projects now he’s happily ensconced at the wharf.

He’s inspired by English landscape artist William Turner’s way with painting the light, and by British maritime painter Montague Dawson’s “stunning seascapes”, all of which has led Rick to explore the “drama” of the sea in his own work.

Edith Symes