In his Reith lectures, Grayson Perry called artists “Pilgrims on the Road to Meaning”. At New Blood Art, we wanted to gain insight into our artists personal roads to meaning, so we asked them some questions. Here are some of their answers:
Do you have any rituals or routines to help the creative process?
Creative process starts deep in my head automatically every few days, then I just have to sit down put some music on, hip hop or punk – something aggressive and squeeze the juices out of all ideas and reflections. I go back in time to when I was very young, I gather collage of memories, things I’ve done – good and bad, people I miss or people I wish I’d never met and maybe part of fairytale from when I was little and the feeling of the sickness when you miss good old times, when you miss home..
Due to the nature of my work, I always do a substantial amount of reading before creating work; whether it’s news articles demonstrating current social injustice or articles by prominent feminist and queer theorists. This always leaves me fired up and gets the creative juices flowing….yes, really! Also, I’m most likely be paired with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (depending if it’s before or after 12pm!).
Procrastination can be my enemy so the only routine I have is to just start. Before this however I have to give myself permission to fail, not everything will be a winner, but all is usually valuable in one way or another.
Taking photographs, making collages, going out and getting inspiration and developing ideas from unlikely sources, are all approaches I use to help the creative process. Often the best results have come from when I’ve found a particular image either that I’ve taken, or that I’ve found and felt a strong connection towards. It’s this reaction to an image that in my experience has prompted the most energy and spirit in my work. It could be a haunting look or expression, or an unusual combination of patterns or colours that has caught my attention. Often it’s been when I’m in a relaxed frame of mind and not hunting for the next big idea that the best inspiration comes along and this isn’t always a predictable process – this surprise, when something unravels in a brilliant and unexpected way, is the most satisfying.
I always listen to music while I paint. Turning on music, I listen to music I love which includes classical, alternative and rock. My absolute favourite and the music I find most inspiring is by composer Arvo Part.
I find that in my practice I need to work on several paintings at once. Stretching my canvases and sizing them is an intrinsic part of my process. It gives me a sense of ownership on the surface I am working on and is a key ritual for me. I further the connection with the canvas by staining it with thin layers of oil thinned out with turpentine. I make arbitrary marks and drops and then leave it to dry, while working on another one. I am at this moment using ‘Zest it’ as my thinner. I have noticed there is a difference between that and turpentine (especially the cost), however it seems to be a good alternative. Coffee is also a big part of my ritual and process! Looking and responding to the marks and effects that have been made on the canvas through the staining process is part of my ritual too, and somehow getting into the ‘zone’ where I allow my subconscious to dictate my responses. Music is also a part of the creative process.I need to work on many paintings at once otherwise I lose myself in one and then start to over work. By having several canvases ready and prepared I can keep the flow going and alternate my responses.All of the motifs come from research, sketches, personal experiences and things which move me. The work I am doing at this moment is heavily influenced by the Tim Buckley song ‘To the Siren’ which I have been trying to master on the guitar for nearly a year!
I get excited when I find something totally unique and sincere like a handwritten letter in the street or a child’s drawing. These little forms of self-expression are so accidentally beautiful. I’m also a big collector of paper, anything – like wallpaper samples, paper bags, packaging, it usually gets taken back to the studio. I’m very much a studio artist. I need to work everyday, even if it’s just for an hour. My understanding and confidence in my visual language grows with the repeated process, like meditation, you tune in to a heightened awareness.
I often listen to music whilst painting, which makes an unconscious tempo to the rhythm of painting; which differs to how I work whilst photographing or filming. I often either talk if someone is with me or just go really quiet and focus in on what I want to capture. I find music often provides a good mind-set to work to as it creates the right backdrop to be able to think in. I have a small ritual of noting things down when I think of them as soon enough I forget them, so it makes it easier to write when I have odd scraps of paper of some of the thoughts I’ve been having rather than just completely forgetting.
Definitely. I wake up early in the morning, and after the usual shower/breakfast/coffee routine I always do the same thing: put on some music, and start reading a book or browse through art books and catalogues of artists I like. This works both as a motivation and an energy bomb to me, and ideas and images begin to emerge. Sometimes, If i like something, I quickly fix them on my sketchbook; but most of the times I just let them go and start working on what is on the table at the moment.
I have many. I listen to all sorts of music, I travel and watch and read with almost no limit of languages or horizons. I am inspired by people and humanity that I seek in various range of social class. I have a few dear good friends but I make sure I spend quality time with them and we make each other laugh. All my friends have great sense of humor. I consider it the supreme intelligence and it feeds me with enough energy for weeks. I try everything that is new: food, drug, music, games, danse, languages. When I get to the studio I usually let myself an hour to slowly get into it. I drink coffee, smoke and listen to music while looking at my canvas. Once I am into it I don’t stop until i can’t no more. Usually it’s 6 hours a day.
Although I can draw in a pretty cluttered environment almost anywhere, when I’m ready to paint it has to be a clear desk, work area, clear studio. All work from previous paintings has to be moved away. I even have to hoover and dust. The excitement palpably builds as I prepare the ‘scene’ ready to start. It means the thinking and drawing process has reached a point of resolution and a new artwork is about to start. Equipment to hand, drawings, paint tubes and photos around for reference, Radio 4 – unless it’s Gardeners Question Time ‘cos that makes me look outside the studio at the jobs that need to be done, so then it has to be CDs of classical piano music or heavy metal – and then I’m ready to begin.
It is important to me to that my own creative output is squeezed into the uber normality of my life. I am not afforded the luxury of dedicated time to produce work, I just squeeze it in after work, after getting my son to bed, after fixing the dripping tap etc. It is that limit on time that helps to dictate what I do, as does my decision to get rid of a studio a few years ago. I make work that I can do at a desk, online, in a hotel in Doha, by writing something and emailing it. I can carry an idea around when doing whatever it is I have to do and it does not take up too much space.