By Phoenix Naman

Focus On Marrickville with Elliott Routledge


In episode four, we sit down with artist, painter, sculptor and muralist Elliott Routledge, known in the art sphere as Funskull. Elliott is the face behind public art installations across Marrickville, Newtown and Enmore, but his work transcends the shopfronts and murals you might recognise it from.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Elliott chose to make the Inner West his home. He works from a studio in Marrickville, where the appeal of a sprawling and industrial hub drew him in, and the community made him stay. Speaking with Elliott, it’s clear that community is at the forefront of his career and, by extension, his life. Being the subject of international recognition in the art community has never dulled his desire to work amongst other artists. Sharing a studio with his peers, where he has the opportunity to personify meaningful ideas in a space where they will be celebrated, has become vital to him. Important and personal.

Elliott’s art is a personal journey that begins with a concept, a feeling, a memory, or a physical object. But once it's out in the world, it takes on a life of its own. It becomes subjective and open to interpretation, and its meaning varies from person to person, depending on their unique perspective.

While abstract in nature and always carefully removed from any true sense of realism, a common thread weaves through all his work. The iconic Smiley Face originated in the 90s rave culture and has taken on a new meaning for Elliott over the decades, particularly since he became a father. Faced with the imperfections of mortality, the Smiley Face has come to represent the imbalance of life for Elliott and the shifting perspectives experienced at different life stages that ultimately work towards the same goal: joy and happiness.

Reflecting on his career, Elliott recalls that his passion existed long before he decided that art would be his full-time gig. Growing up, he didn’t know that there was an option to live life through art and survive, but he can still remember where it all started: in a makeshift outdoor studio his mother made for him as a child. Art has always been more than just a job for Elliott; Funskull is part of his identity, and it’s embedded in him just as deeply as the other things that are most important to him: family and community.

Inspired by Elliott? Find out where you can see his public and gallery work here: