Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview for Digital Arts

I just finished answering some questions for writer Alice Ross from Digital Arts Magazine.

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You seem to experiment a lot with different styles, from geometric vectors to beautiful hand drawings. Would you say you have an identifiable style? Is there a common theme in your work?

There always seems like there's so much to explore! Since I definitely don't make work to express myself, but to discover new things, in that way I think it would be impractical to only master one or two materials, a particular colour palette or identify myself with a style. Having said that, it still matters to me that I feel I have investigated something fully, and never like to abandon things completely, which probably gives the impression that I am working with several different styles.

I trained as a graphic designer, not an illustrator, which might have something to do with it; my projects are very driven by the brief I am given - whether a loose theme for an exhibition or a tighter, more specific brief for a piece of print work or editorial.

As a (largely) commercial artist, I think having too much evidence of a particular theme in your portfolio can become detrimental and lead to getting stuck in pigeon holes, which might become uncomfortable for you as an individual as time passes...

Can you describe how your style has evolved? What have you done to develop it? (could you show me what you mean with images?)

This is a difficult one; I guess as I am working I am also learning, about materials, how they interact with each other, how they can be applied to different surfaces (not as finishes but as part of the process), about colour, about shape and how to generate imagery with which to build other things; so in that way it is sort of a by-product that my work starts to evolve.

On your website you mention that collaboration, experimentation and the unknown are key to your work. Can you give examples of how each has helped you creatively?

I love working with other people on all or part of a project; people are amazing. I'm in awe of their minds. One of the most successful commercial collaborations was the guide for the education programme I worked on with Paul Tisdell from Europa for Frieze Art Fair 2009; it feels like a real physical negotiation on the page as things are shifted, built, deconstructed and reclaimed, between the elements themselves and us as designers.

I think as a commercial artist it is easy to become an incredible machine; if you have the energy and the commitment you can fully immerse yourself in a world of solving other peoples problems - but I am also interested in what problems we can generate for ourselves, which we may find we are more interested in solving; my friend and animator Thomas Ormonde visited me in Berlin (where I spend some of my time) last year wanting to see if it was possible to turn an old public photobooth into a giant periscope, and use it to take photos of things in the street outside; I facilitated his curiosity by finding all the mirror tiles and duct tape we needed and set up camp by the booth off Bergmanstra├če in Kreuzberg; 12 hours (and about €40...) later we had something resembling a result. I'm happiest doing things I've never done before, in terms of my work at least...

What do you do when you hit a creative block? Are there any tricks or tips you've learned to get your mojo back?

Try something out, discuss my options at length with Robert of Telegramme Studio or go for a swim.

Do you keep a sketchbook? If so, why?

I keep a lot of collage books, mostly made up of work I make on the computer, print out, cut up, photocopy, cut up again etc.. I think it keeps my eye in. If you're only making 'finished' work then it can all get a bit incestuous. I prefer to curate accidents and play off them later.

How do you go about creating your very best work when you need to pull out all the stops?

I hope I always try to pull out all the stops, every time!