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 3 questions:
The moment when you are at a party (for example) and someone asks: ‘What do you do?’ You say, ‘I’m an artist.’ Can you remember when that moment first happened for you and tell us about it?
I don’t say that. I work as a freelance art technician, I work for galleries such as the Tate, Jerwood, De La Warr Pavilion, many more and abroad in Qatar, installing the work of hugely successful artists, alive and dead. Iconic works that I could only dream about when growing up I have now had the privilege of handling, installing, packing, moving. I get to touch them and see the bits the public don’t see. I get to meet the owners and hear stories about the artists. I get to meet the artists and hear stories about the collectors. That is what pays my bills and feeds my son and wife, so that is what I say when someone asks ‘What do you do?’. When I make money from the work I create then I may consider changing what I say.
Do you have any rituals or routines to help the creative process?
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.
What was the best piece of advice you were given?
Two things seem to come to mind. In my 1st year at Edinburgh College of Art, 1992, a long time ago now, I think it was George Donald, a painter and printmaker who taught then, was with me in a painting class. I liked George, we talked a lot about books and Japan I seem to remember. Anyway, he asked me what it was I was trying to do, what it was I was working on. I had a piece of charcoal and tentatively sketched an idea on a scrap of paper. George grabbed the charcoal from me and grabbed a green paper towel and boldly swept the charcoal across the paper towel while declaring ‘an artist knows what he wants’ and left me with a confident version of my drawing. He was theatrical, but I think he was on to something. Fast forward 16 years and I am at Central St Martins feeling incredibly out of my depth after a long absence from all things art, and Alex Landrum said something to me during a crit, along the lines of ‘You’ll never know it all, never know all that is out there, you just have to have confidence in what you do know’ and as simple as that sounds, in an environment of so many great creatives and thinkers, really serious intellect there, it was great to know that what I knew was enough. That is how I am taking that anyway!