Getting to know: Lui Peti


Nelson born artist Lui Peti, who now calls Whangarei home, is a Digital artist/illustrator with a uniquely striking style. Lui’s art is predominately contemporary portraits. These are often focused on complimenting trending interior design with his use of coordinating color palettes. Lui is a relatively new artist who sells giclée art prints on his website ( and also offers commission art and illustration services. Recently we caught up with Lui Peti and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his life and art:

How did your artwork start out?

I was just a kid who enjoyed sitting quietly with my head buried in a sketch book, drawing more as a way to keep an overly active brain entertained for a long period of time, rather than to create “art”.  

What is your background?

I am a half-cast Tongan/NZ European. I grew up in the little artsy town of Motueka, a half hour drive from Nelson. I had a big family (two brothers and two sisters) raised by my NZ European mother and step father but had little ties to my Tongan heritage. Times were tight financially and a pencil and paper were cheap, locking myself away in my bedroom to draw was a great way to escape the mad house of having four siblings.

Did you always want to be an artist?

Yes, although I never really saw it as an option growing up. I had left school early to work and help out financially at home, as had my older siblings before me. Only in this last year have I tried to make a career as an artist, 15 odd years after leaving high school.

How have you developed your career? 

I am still very new to the industry but changing to a digital medium has been a huge development to my art. It has helped to broaden the range of opportunities. Being able to finish a piece of art and have it sent via email to companies like Doodlewear the same day is a totally different avenue to traditional mediums. The challenge of learning to paint on a screen was definitely worth the benefits of digital art.

What inspires you?

A constant theme in my art is strong woman. A lot of that is because of being surrounded by them, be it my mother, sisters or wife and her mother. Also, being able to create something that takes a huge amount of focus and to be able to stand back and be proud of a finished piece is inspiration enough.

What do you do when you’re not inspired to create art? What brings your mojo back?

Sitting down in front of a blank canvas is the hardest part. I find just doodling usually gets the engine started. Painting or drawing anything with no intention of ever making it a finished piece. This technique will often spark an idea that makes me excited, once I have an idea in mind its hard to pull me away.

What does your art aim to say to your audience? 

It's more of how I want an audience to react, than what I want to say to them. I try to make art that will stop someone in their tracks, be it to check out the detail or evoke an emotion. This is why I usually base my art around a portrait, it is hard not to take a second glance if there is a pair of eyes staring at you.

What are you known for?

Detailed portraits that are bold, striking and unique.

What is your process when creating new art?

I generally start with a photo portrait. I often let the portrait guide my ideas for a piece. I might see an expression or composition that sparks a theme, feeling or style and I try to build on that.

How has your art evolved over the years?

I try dabbling in different techniques and subject matter as the craft of art is something that keeps art interesting for me. Trying to change my style every time I sit down to paint/draw gives me a more rewarding satisfaction when I finish a piece of work.

What are your tools of choice?

I work solely on a digital art tablet ( Wacom Cintiq display tablet) It allows me to replicate numerous tools (brushes, pens, pencils, paint) with the added bonus of not having to fork out for multiple art supplies and the ability to easily erase something I don’t like.

Which current art world trends are you following?

My wife and I have an affection for minimalistic interior design, I try using limited color combinations and at the same time try to balance detailed techniques with simplistic composition.

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

The feeling of being creative and having a job that feels like a hobby.

Tell us something interesting about you.

I am an ex-dairy farmer but still live out in the country, I enjoy the serenity and being able to muck around in my gumboots.

What do you enjoy outside of creating art?

I have an 8-month-old baby boy who I am infatuated with, and who keeps my wife and I on our toes. (image below)

Any advice for someone wanting to make art their full-time job?

Be prepared to spend as much time on the business side of things as you do creating art. As you are bound to be a one-person operation. Finding and researching new opportunities and dealing with stakeholders can be very time consuming.

Any advice to young or new artists?

Take chances, actively seek opportunities and just keep creating art!




  • Great interview Lui! Always loved your work, exciting to see you explore new opportunities & create such striking art work. Just shows you ‘good things come to those that work hard!’.

    Hayley Veatupu
  • Pretty inspiring! Your art is definitely striking and bold. The detail you create is incredible! Can’t wait to see all the pieces to come.

  • Wow, an interview lui!
    Very proud of u son! Thanks for the mention!
    Keep up the good work!xx

    Jill tongamoa

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