Dean Whittaker

It is my lifelong fascination with story and myth that drives me to render my art in an 'illustrative' manner.

Easily read at first but complex and dark beneath the surface.

I draw inspiration from New Zealand artists Robyn Kahukiwa, Rita Angus and Peter Gossage who tell their own, unique tales of Aotearoa in visually graphic ways.

I work in mixed media. Each work is individually designed and hand cut. The story and narrative come together quickly but, as always, for the fashion conscious, deciding what each wahine should wear can take a matter of weeks and a series of costume changes - which speaks to my training as a fashion graduate of Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design.

Stylistically, my work nods at tradition but shuns its masculine, heteronormative representation of OUR world in favour of a new, contemporary narrative.

Dean is mixed heritage Māori and Pākehā and grew up in Te Raki-pae-wehnua, Tāmaki Makaurau (Northshore, Auckland). He is a Fine Arts graduate from Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, majoring in Fashion. Two years ago he decided to reclaim the language of his Tīpuna and learn te reo which has heavily influenced his art practice.

5 questions, 5 answers

Do you have a favourite colour?

The colours of Tino Rangatiratanga - 3 colours, no words, representing 1 giant concept; Creation!

How do you take your coffee?


Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Something on the television. Either CNN or Real housewives of (insert city here). They make me feel like I’ve got company but require zero brain power.

Who is your favourite artist of all time + now? Why?

Frieda Kahlo - she managed kick ass in a white man’s world and still look fabulous doing it! (know any male artists to make the cover of Vogue?)

A few words that explain you or your art?

Pakiwaitara. Wahine toa.