Faces of AWNY: Courtney Bae


Courtney Bae is an Australian artist, who has been living and painting in New York for over eight years. We spoke with her about what brought her to the Big Apple, her transition into being an artist, and of course, what she loves about New York City.


What brought you to New York City?

I moved to NYC from Sydney to study fashion at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). After working at 3.1 Phillip Lim and Prada Group as a visual merchandiser, I became an artist. I paint figurative works with oil on linen, and I also draw illustrations.

Where do you live? Why did you choose that area?

I lived in SoHo for most of my time here in NY but I have spent the past year in Bushwick and I absolutely love my neighborhood! Or maybe I should spell that “neighbourhood”? I moved here to Bushwick to live with my wonderful boyfriend and now we have a cozy home and an extremely adorable cat.

What do you like/dislike about living in NY?

I love the opportunities here, you can do anything you want as long as you figure out how to manage pressure and stress so that it doesn’t overcome you but rather, so that you can really own your world. There are activities and ideas that you just don’t get back home. At the same time I have to admit that I adore Sydney because of the way it is everything NY is not. To me Sydney is somewhat isolated and untainted, which is really such a beautiful thing.

Courtney Bae painting in the studio.
Courtney Bae painting in the studio.

Tell us one of your ‘only in New York’ moments?

Where do I start? Moments like after I get into a cab huffing and puffing because the person after me tried to upstream me and steal my cab! Or moments like when they bag my coffee?

Any advice for people moving to NY?

Be brave and do it! But be sure to get home to oz regularly and to call your family as much as you can! That will keep you strong and grounded. In NY you’ve got to look after yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

As a professional working in NYC what are the differences to working in Australia?

NY working hours are longer and harder but you do great things and you walk away rewarded. In Australia, I think it’s more typical that you get to enjoy a healthy and balanced lifestyle but maybe you’re not always recreating the wheel everyday at your work desk.

What’s your favorite New York spot?

Aside from my home? That’s a tough one because NY isn’t really about just one spot. If I had to narrow it down I think I’d choose Aire Spas in Tribeca. It’s the most beautiful and relaxing spa. Although Rockaway Beach is great spot too if you need a beach fix.

Girl And Her Banana, Courtney Bae, Oil on Canvas, 30x20.jpg
Courtney Bae, Girl and Her Banana, Oil on Canvas

Anything you miss about Australia?

Again, where do I start? I miss the beach, the sun, the culture, the good food, and the healthy lifestyle. I also miss silly things like Bergen bread, Vegemite, meat pies, Caramello Koalas. I even miss Vanish laundry detergent!

What are your top 3 tips for friends visiting NYC?

  1. Don’t assume all the fun stuff is in Manhattan.
  2. Walk everywhere.
  3. Please bring me some Vegemite?

Favorite NYC brunch spot

There are so many! It’s not the coolest hang out spot but I do love a bit of Souen – it’s a macrobiotic restaurant serving all kinds of super healthy food.

Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice

It’s cheesy but I loved having a cheeky uptown cocktail at the King Cole bar at the St Regis hotel. My cocktail of choice is a Botanical gin martini, slightly dirty and up.

How did you get into your job in NYC?

I walked into 3.1 Phillip Lim and asked for a sales associate job, which I took at the same time as an internship in their design team and then from there it just took some time and a little determination.

What do you like about being part of AWNY?

I’m excited to celebrate that I’m Australian. I’m always feeling proud to say it to people whenever I’m asked what my accent is.

Tell us about a recent big win-

I had my first gallery exhibition in an established Chelsea fine arts gallery. It was pretty major.

Courtney Bae, Neel

Who are some Aussie ladies doing awesome things in NYC who are currently on your radar?

My good mate Thembi Hanify is a killer art director and she’s starting a label Mathys Sinclair – she’s definitely on the radar. My other mate Vela is working for Zimmerman here and crushing it!

Connect with Courtney

Visit her website, and follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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