Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I have have always felt the need to create, whether that be through drawing, music or writing.
Did producing art work come naturally to you and what drives you to create work?
I’ve had a passion for mark making since a very early age and if I don’t make a drawing for a couple of days, there is definitely an itch to pick up a pencil. However, as you grow older there are additional different driving forces – for instance selling work to pay my studio rent!
Who/what inspires you?
This will sound like a strange answer, but I’m actually inspired by drawing itself. The act of making marks on paper provides a kind of inner peace that I carry into other areas of my life.
Of your contemporaries who do you think is the most inspired? And who is over rated?
There are a great many contemporary artists that I hold in high regard. To name a few: Emily Speed, Michaela Nettell, Gemma Cossey, Sally Sheinman, Mik Godley, Tom Butler, Virginia Verran, Rose Wylie, Fiona Banner…
It’s difficult to name artists who are overrated…we all have good and bad shows from time to time. I’d actually say some of my earlier shows were overrated. I’m much happier with the work I’m producing now.
What was your time at Lancaster like?
Absolutely mad! I met some of my closest friends whilst at Grizedale College, people I still regularly see today. My three years there were life changing. I felt I grew up, found myself and gained valuable life experience – plus a few hangovers thanks to the Sugarhouse!
How did you ensure you didn’t become too stressed out?/ Any tips for coping with stress?
The one piece of advice I would give is if you are getting stressed, talk to someone. When I was in my first year I got so stressed I started pulling my hair out – literally. I found it really hard moving away from home, adjusting to a completely new lifestyle, and also getting good grades. As soon as I learnt to open up I found plenty of people willing to offer me support.
Is having a thick skin necessary in the art world?
The simple answer is yes. However, I would suggest taking any form of criticism with a pinch of salt. Everything is subjective and just because one person doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean you should abandon your whole practice.
As well as being a successful artist you’re also a well established editor. How do you balance the two and which do you enjoy more?
I enjoy both equally, they just fill different slots in my schedule. I’m also a session musician so good time management is essential. I would like to dispel the myth that artists lock themselves in their studio 24/7, 100% inspired all the time, churning out masterpieces whilst listening to John Coltrane. Most successful artists I know have parallel careers, including: archivist, librarian, teacher, accountant, physicist, lawyer… the list is pretty endless.
I still listen to John Coltrane though…
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
If someone tells you to get a haircut and trim your beard, don’t do it.
Also, if someone tells you that pencil on paper has had it’s day, ignore them. It hasn’t.
What are your next steps?/ Where do you see yourself if five years time?
I’ve just had a very successful year in terms of exhibitions and selling work. However, this has been limited to the UK. I am keen to develop my international audience.