Mike Maxwell

Presenting Mike Maxwell from El Cajon,California.

Mike also has a blog you can view here.

Teachers and Students: you can download a worksheet on Mike’s interview here.

Mike works mainly on Acrylic on hand made birch panels, a unique approach.

Born in 1979 San Diego based artist Mike Maxwell has built a loyal following with his signature stone-blue faces, gloomy churches and beautiful windmills. Self-taught and continuously improving in his work, the poetic dreamy scenes examine humanity, conceptuality, genetics and consciousness. With subtle changes in both theme and process, Maxwell has sharpened his skill providing more depth in his current work. Maxwell’s choice of color is deliberate and with purpose reflecting a lack of race and ambiguity in the stone-blue faced pieces. The work has a lot to do with his personal re-education and a desire to learn and understand things that are so prevalent in our society but are often forgotten by the masses. Focusing his work around the human experience, themes of religion, sex and science captivates our attention in these acrylic beauties. Mikes work has been shown nation wide and over seas at galleries in  Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Japan, London, and Australia. Mikes work is described as subrealisim.

Mike, what are you currently working on?
I have a bunch of shows coming up. I have a new print being released through Friends and Co. out of Bristol England. That is available now. I’m in The Helsinki Biennial I also have some stuff at Studio 27 28 in Philly in November I’m in a group show at Distinction Gallery that was curated by Kelly Vivanco in December. I’m also starting work for 2 solo show s next year at The Shooting Gallery and at M Modern Gallery both in California.

Is there one word to describe your current works?

How did you get into art?
My Mother and Grandfather were both talented artists, I did two landscape paintings with my Grandfather at a very young age that had a lasting impact on me. I always wanted to make things. My Mother always challenged me to improve my craftsmanship and that is something that has stuck with me my whole life.

What did you do before becoming an artist?
I’ve always been an artist, but I have worked a ton of odd jobs, I’ve done graphic design, tattooed for awhile, lots of some how art related jobs.

What is your earliest memory of art?
My moms murals on our bedroom walls.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
Yes and has continued throughout the years. They have been my biggest supporters.

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
I would assume. I think our geographic location on this earth always has an influence in everything we do and everything we are.

What or who inspires your art?
Everything inspires me, the whole gamut of emotions obviously, lately ignorance has been a  big inspiration. Art always inspires me, everyone out there working hard doing what they love inspires me. Independence inspires me.

How important is art for you?
It’s as important as everything else I enjoy in my life. Financially its how I support myself, but if it didn’t I would still deem it important. As far as others art, I feel like my day would be lacking somewhat if I didn’t see new art everyday. I see art in many things, so luckily for me, that never happens.

Some say the lifespan of an “artist” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
What about artists who never stop being educated? Or does this statistic only apply to those who are “formally” educated? If you are a true artist your artistic lifespan last your lifespan.

Tell us about your connection to your subject matter, way of working, concepts etc?
Most of my work starts as a research project, I learn as much as I can about a particular topic, then make work based on what I have learned.

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?
Working with Shepard Fairey back in 2000. I spent two years working with him, Dave Kinsey, and a handful of other talented artists for two years. I learned a hell of a lot in those two years.

All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had.
I think everyone has had struggles in some way. That’s how we learn new things and adapt. I hate to complain about having it rough because there is always someone else out there in the world who has had it twice as rough as you. Its better not to whine about it.

Musical influences?
I’m listening to a lot of Roky Erickson right now, The Juno soundtrack has had a lot of play as of late. Bill Callahan. Modest Mouse.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate?
I’d rather the viewer find something in the work that they relate to on their own, regardless of whether they “get it” or not. Unfortunately I often find that the viewer is more interested in being told how to “get it”, instead of figuring things out on your own. But that sort of parallels the society we live in these days.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

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Simon Collins

Simon Collins from South Sydney, paints in oils and is represented by
Ian Dawson Gallery and Anthea Polson Art

Artist’s statement…
My inspiration is simply the visual appeal of ordinary moments in my life, mostly on the road that just cry out to be painted. I’m subjected to a visual torrent every day on the road and grab at will. I like the viewer to take what they will from the work, what they read into it they read into my experiences, so without saying a lot about my life (I’m quite a private person), it’s more just about my investigation. Subject matter aside, I quite simply mess with the medium and try to paint a pleasing picture and reach a level of sophistication in doing that. I’m very interested in the translation of nuances of digital photography to that of paint, which is where I want to further push my work.

How do you describe your work?
Direct energetic and intuitive

How did you get into art?
Always took to drawing from earliest memory, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up and applied for art school, got in, took it from there.

What is your earliest memory of art?
Winning a colouring in competition at age 3 or 4

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
Yes, in that my father dabbled in oil painting, I copied him a little as kids do and my parents always seemed to be impressed with my art, as good parents do

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Playing with my fathers oils at a very young age created a mindset that it’s the real artists stuff, but I loved it since then and love it more now.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
Very Little. I believe the most creative musician can be a kid thrashing it out in his or her bedroom with a cheap electric guitar missing all the notes; it can still be music that has real meaning. I believe the same for visual art

Does the sale of your work support you?
I rely on my business partnership doing aquarium and pond services/consults which affords a freedom to not be a sales motivated artist and at the same time busy as I am, being my own boss allows me to take a day or even a few hours off at short notice for painting or dropping work to a gallery etc.

Some say the lifespan of an “artist” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Post educationally (bachelor degree after high school) I have trouble seeing how anyone can be too ready for life as a full time gallery artist inside of 10 years, but accept there are exceptions. I spent 15 years ‘maturing’ after my bachelor degree before I felt ready to create seriously and then a few more before deciding I wanted to pursue a career as a gallery artist.

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?
Finding a good weekly life drawing group to join and religiously attend. Drawing the body is varyingly challenging. These days I treat it like training and therapy.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?

Perhaps Robert Raushenberg’s Quarter Mile? I’d never get bored of that, and it would certainly be a constant source of discovery and inspiration.

Okay this is about Visual Arts, but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you?
Very much so. I tend to listen mostly to artists who are artists in the sense that they exist on their own terms and are truly original, are creating work that are timeless and not part of a fashionable trend. A few long-term staples are Nick Cave in his various forms, Iggy Pop, Ween, Beasts of Bourbon, The Melvins; there’s many more. But at the same time I can enjoy a Jazz show on the radio or abc classic FM.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I don’t ever feel compelled to explain my work, and there’s certainly not a whole lot to ‘get’, nothing too profound anyway. The subject matter is symptomatic of my situation and experiences, which I paint to investigate, and that choice can be read into and is what the viewer can read into as they will, I don’t believe I spell it out in any certain way. When experiencing art there’s nothing worse than having it spelled out to you. When art, be it literature, books, movies, music or painting treats the audience like a moron the work becomes pedestrian and suffers. What I hope the view ‘gets’ is the sophistication of the visuals and the use of paint more than anything.

Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?

In both instances the best way possible in that my work was noticed, communication initiated and a suggestion that we could perhaps work together that was followed through.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?

It’s an unfortunate necessity for a career artist. Some artists I know find it a lot less challenging than others. Having a good dealer eases that challenge somewhat, but there is always work for the career artist in marketing.

Tell us about your studio environment?
Getting into a decent size studio was a major catalyst to me raising my work level a peg, but it could never be big enough, light is ok. One must work with what they have.

Is your work process fast or slow?
I work very directly and get through a painting faster than most, once at the easel.

Otto Dix the German artist said (in part)… “All art is exorcism…” Is that the case for you? If so how…
In a way. I need my easel time. I don’t get to paint every day, but I make sure I step in the studio every day. Contemplation of unfinished and future works keeps the wheels turning in art and life, and somewhat therapeutic.

Do the seasons affect your work or work habits?
I work at night in a converted garage. It doesn’t really affect my routine, only the comfort factor in the winter cold. I much prefer painting in shorts and bare feet.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
Definitely for me it is in the execution. The subject matter is important because it is snapshots of my life, but most of my important decisions in the creative process are about the visual qualities of paint and the painting and the intent in which it is delivered.

Do you prefer a perfect smooth technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?
My surfaces are always very far from smooth and an important part of the work. I like to paint the whole canvas at once, which lets me see the whole composition. If I can’t see it fast I’d lose interest. I’m not one to work up through the layers to achieve a tone or colour. I need to mix it and put it down and see it. So I’m efficient with time, but also paint strokes, and feel successful when all that energy is evident in honest and confident (if not audacious) paint energy. At the same time it lets the viewer in on the process.

Have you won any awards?
I haven’t won awards, but I got highly commended (runner up) in the Waverley Art prize 07 and 08. Getting hung in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize 08 was pretty good too, as was being hung in Mosman Art Prize 07 and 08.

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility.
Having a website is key to getting your work seen, and makes getting a gallery a whole lot easier too. Then there is a myriad of ways to get your website seen.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
I unashamedly work from photographs, but I don’t paint the photo, I use it as a reference.

What is your working routine?
I always listen to music. I catch a few favourite radio shows, and listen to cd’s otherwise. I paint at night once the kids are down, sometimes working through to 4am.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Paint a lot, learn to be self-critical, listen to the opinions of other respected peers when they are good enough to give it to you honestly.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/stevegray58

Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au Loaded with creativity boosters, professional development strategies, investing/collecting art and activities for Artists and Students…

Ursula Gullow

Ursula Gullow Lives in Asheville, North Carolina you can check out her website here www.ursulagullow.com and also her blog www.artseenasheville.blogspot.com

So Ursula, before we jump into the art questions, do you have any other interests?
Everything relates back to the art I make. I’m fascinated by ideas like the collective conscious, the dreaming world, animal super powers, mysticism, magic, history, cyber communication, electronics, plant propagation. Issues like competitive sports, war and the stock market hold a different inspiration for me.

As a painter, what can you tell us about your work…
My paintings are an exploration of the spaces occupied by almost-formed narratives and the awkward uncertainties of in-betweens. Politics, people and nature all provide source imagery. The paintings, in oil on canvas, are created in fluid layers, with fragments of under painting showing through the finished surface, figures painted just enough to catch the essential gesture, character and movement. The backgrounds and foregrounds shift energetically as paint fields overlap at the edges of a form, resolving into a kind of illustrative expressionism. The approach maintains an economy of detail; stripes may be painted on the shirt of a small figure, but the features of the face left off. The goal is an awareness of something unresolved in both the paint surfaces and the scenarios they reflect, as if an animated storyline has been momentarily paused. The subjects are fragments of narratives, which describe situations we don’t quite know, can’t quite pin down, each a moment so specific as to be universal.

Is there a reason for you becoming an Artist?
It’s the thing I found that makes the most sense to me and suits my lifestyle the best. I need flexibility, community and a minimal budget to live the fullest life possible. Making art in a small city like Asheville affords me all those things.

How did you get into art?
I just have always been into making things. I didn’t go to school for art but surrounded myself with creative types. I was involved with a ceramic artist and started drawing on his pots, then started making tiles, and gradually gathered enough confidence to show my paintings publicly.

Have you always been interested in art?
I wasn’t interested in aesthetics until I decided to try my hand at graphic design about 10 years ago. I wasn’t interested in the art world until I began showing my paintings six years ago. I was always creative, but I didn’t know what I wanted to paint until I turned 30.

What did you do before becoming an artist?
I’ve had a million food service jobs, cleaning jobs and production jobs. I spent my twenties trying out a lot of things – from illustration to glassblowing – I also spent my twenties moving around a lot.

What is your earliest memory of art?
I was in a museum in Washington DC probably when I was 13 and I reached out to touch a painting – it was huge and had big globs of paint that I wanted to bite off. Instantly a security guard stepped forward and reprimanded me. I was really embarrassed and felt like a country bumpkin for not knowing the proper art appreciation etiquette. I’ve always been terrified of people in uniforms.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
Music was a huge thing. My mother made sure every one of her 6 kids played an instrument. I played piano for 6 months and was terrible. I played violin for 10 years and really liked playing in orchestras and chamber groups. We grew up with a lot of classical music and opera. My mother is a deeply creative and passionate person and she contributed a magical element to everything when I was growing up – she still does.

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
I grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York. The land and seasons were beautiful, but the emotional dissociation that is necessary to operate a functioning dairy farm is heartbreaking. I think about the concepts of good and evil a lot and the exploitive properties inherent to agrarian societies.

What or who inspires your art?
Everything. I like being in the know. I like to keep abreast of trends and celebrities. I like to feel what the collective conscious is feeling. This doesn’t necessarily inspire my art but it inspires me, and to some extent my aesthetic choices. I’ve always been drawn towards meeting all types of people – I’m not that sort of quiet, anti-social pained artist you read about or see in the movies.

How important is art for you?
Everything is art. So it’s not even a question of being important. My social life revolves around it. Art happenings and art openings are celebrations of humanity and I love that – the same is true for graffiti and dance parties and political movements.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
I really believe economics plays a big role in this. I chose painting because it is cheap, accessible and saleable. That sounds disgusting, but I think it’s true. I wanted to work with metals when I was in college but the lab fee was too expensive for me. I don’t think I’d want to work with a medium that I need big and dangerous equipment for. On the other hand, painting chose me too. I could be drawing for all the reasons I’ve stated but I like the luscious quality of paint.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
The concept should be fabricated as well as it needs to be, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be well crafted in order to have the concept communicated.

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?
My first showing of paintings in Seattle was so well received that I continued on. That was the turning point in my life I think.

All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had.
The biggest struggle for me is the will to continue and maintain inspiration and fresh ideas. Too many rejection letters in one month can be draining.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
No. I have tried but it always feels forced for me. I keep a notebook near my bed to write my dreams in. The thing with me is that really I am painting whenever I have a moment so that is like my journal.  When traveling I occasionally do sketches, and I have a blog which is a great device for communicating ideas.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I am continually amazed at people’s responses to my work. Most often it is not in line with what I was thinking when I made the piece but I value their perspective.

How important is it to you that your work communicates something to the viewer?
It will always communicate something and I can’t force the viewer to see what I see. I’m happy if they take time to notice it and comment on it. At best a discussion will be provoked. A man recently saw a piece I did that had kids throwing rocks and he was completely disgusted by it.

What can you say about your work that might not be evident to the viewer?
A lot of people think my work is funny and quirky, and that’s probably because they’re funny and quirky. There is a real seriousness I have when I’m creating it. In my mind it’s a recreation of the sublime beauty of struggle and the human condition and debunking myths of hierarchy and good vs. evil.

What can you tell us about your creative development process?
I didn’t receive a formal education in art and I often wonder how things would be for me if I had. Maybe I would hash out concepts and ideas more. I tend to have a bit of attention deficit regarding my work as it is always changing in scale, subject matter, color schemes etc. I might paint small tight narratives one week and large organic landscapes the next. I let myself experiment and then return to my comfort zone with fresh perspective.

Art is about entertainment, experiment, inventiveness or shock for you?
All of those words mean the same thing to me, and yes, art is about all of that as well as celebration and community. Creating art and living a creative life within a dominant paradigm that does not value art (such as in the United States) is the most revolutionary aspect inherent to art. It is the beginning of social empathy and transformation.

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
Yes. But there is no way I would stop being creative unless I really wanted to. Even if I was blind and deaf and had no use of my limbs. I’d probably smear my face around in mud at that point. Or make brilliant spit bubbles. Or sing. Or go insane – which is its own creative form.

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?
Sometimes I have no motivation to make paintings. I usually find a different creative outlet like video or blogging. But the creative process is cyclical and at this point I know my patterns enough to not get too freaked out if I’m not producing work. If I don’t feel like painting that month I might put my energy into researching grants and galleries, applying to shows, networking or just taking care of my emotional and physical health.

Do you have a challenge knowing when a work is finished?
It’s just something I intuitively feel when the piece is complete. I usually sign it when I know it’s almost done, and finish it up shortly thereafter.

Are their special aspects to the making of your work that you want to share?
I just really want to avoid being formulaic. I think I know when that’s happening, and then I’ll play tricks on myself like maybe removing a particular color from my palette – or adding a new one I’ve never worked with before.

You know you have “made it as an artist” when
When you stop asking yourself if you’ve made it as an artist.

The business side of art how does it work for you?
The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts? Approach it like you approach your art. If you’re slow and methodical that will pay off, and if your bombastic and manic that will pay off. Either way, marketing is an art in itself so have fun with it. Artists are some of the most entrepreneurial people I know. We have to be! I mean, mostly we’re totally self-possessed and don’t trust anyone to run our business but ourselves. This whole idea of the “flaky artist” is an urban myth – or at least one that preceded the cyber era.

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?
One time a woman came to a studio sale I was having and had to leave because she felt like my materials were too toxic and giving her a headache. Sometimes I don’t know how to deal with the complaint that my materials are not eco friendly, or that as an artist I am just creating more “stuff” in this already over commodified world.

Tell us about getting caught in a creative “slump” and how you got out of it?
I just hunker down and wait it out. It passes. Everything changes. If you’re slumping now you won’t be doing it forever. It’s part of the process to be dormant. There is always a fear of becoming dissociated with the work during a slump but gaining perspective on it helps – the slump is part of the work ultimately.

Metaphors, analogies, symbols, stories, how important are they to your work?
They seem to become more important after the work is made. I don’t think about it while I’m making it as much. Later things take on meaning to me.

Is your art, “art for art sake…” or a matter of “art for commercial viability?”
I have a hard time separating those two. I usually make a piece based on what I want to make, and hope its cool enough aesthetically that someone will want to live with it or hang it in their gallery, or write a review about it.

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?
I often get my titles for my paintings from piecing together sentences I randomly select out of books. Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration” by David Wojnarowicz is my bible for titles. “In the City of Shy Hunters” by Tom Spanbauer is another one. Both are tremendous books written by tremendous men that have inspired my worldview and thus my art.

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?
If that’s what they see and how they respond I can’t tell them they’re wrong. I can handle most criticism as long as the person isn’t mean. Ultimately there is truly no “right” and “wrong” way of critiquing art, and if they think its pretty and lacks meaning — well the beauty is the meaning.

What is one thing you need to have in your studio before you work?
Daylight and coffee.

What moves you most in life, either to inspire or upset you?
The interconnectedness of beings and our short sightedness in this matter.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
The execution is as important as the subject matter, and in fact becomes the subject matter in the best works of art.

How do you think art can change people or their perceptions?
I think the creative process has a real rehabilitative effect on people, whether its creating a painting or a garden. It is also a useful device for mediation. If George Bush is making any art, I’d love to know about it, because maybe that’s something he and I could connect on. Maybe his art could alter my perception and vice versa. Maybe that would be a good thing.

What do you love/hate about being an artist?
A friend of mine once said you can’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like your work, and you can’t take it personally if they do. For me, the attention I get surrounding my art can be like a drug – the more I get the more I want. There should be a 12 step program for ego maniacs.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Just keep making art, exploring your personal technique and your personal vision. Try to be as honest as possible and be open to critique but filter it. Critique from your mother is different than critique from a gallery director – one knows you, the other is in a business relationship with you.
I think it’s also important to maintain a balance of work and play when it comes to art but that is something that takes years to hone. I’m still working on doing that.

What do you think sets you apart from other artists in your approach to work etc.
Well, I know I’m not the only artist that does this, but I think about titles a lot. I want the title of a piece to be as poetic as the piece itself, probably because I’m creating visual narratives. In a literal world, the title communicates as much as the piece and is not separate of it.  So I craft my titles with the same intention as I craft a piece.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/stevegray58

Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au Loaded with creativity boosters, professional development strategies, investing/collecting art and activities for Artists and Students…

Linden Langdon

Linden Langdon is based in Hobart Tasmania and is represented by Ballan & Pannan

Her Blog is: www.blog.lindenlangdon.com

Linden, what are the main medium/s you work in?
Printmaking – etching, lithography mainly – drawing and painting

Artist’s statement…
With a long and enduring interest of human interaction with the environment, and the natural environment with an absence of human interference, my work seeks to present the experience of such interaction in an intimate way. In a fast paced modern world, there is often little time to embrace the finite detail found in every living thing and remember our intricate and interconnected existence.

There is a suggestion of an uncomfortable undercurrent of natural reality and the collision between what we perceive before us and our subliminal experiences of life. The work is offered as a window from which the perspective can be unsettling. With undertones of environmental concerns, the art is based on an expression of personal observation and influences, projected into the public arena.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage?
Recently I had three weeks in Alice Springs and the surrounding areas. It was a combination of needing to be engaged with the central Australian landscape, experiencing a complete contrast to the coastal environments and family that drew me there, but the area really gets under your skin in a creative way, so now I can’t wait to go back again. I think this is the value of being immersed in different locations – new work becomes possible with new influences.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Maybe to make art a part of life – keep up other aspects of living as well to ensure a balanced outlook and opportunities other than art. Perhaps in the past an artist had to disconnect – to be a fringe dweller to be considered a serious artist, but I think it is more the case that people of any chosen field of endeavour need to keep in touch with social networks. There are so many more people who have taken up art in today’s global community – the crowd is a lot larger.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
Combinations most of the time. Very often work starts with a conversation with someone, an idea is born from description, perhaps in text of some sort, then worked through a process of photographs to gather visual information and then transferring those ideas into a printmaking method.
Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility.
Along with international communication through the internet comes a range ways for people to talk about who they are. I love the idea that someone can read something I write, or not, from anywhere in the world that has the technology to tune in. And conversely that I can read things and see work that people have done from a hugely diverse range of background and cultural influences. Why wouldn’t I, as an artist, want to be involved in this medium?

Do you go into any contemporary art prizes?
Yes I enter a few that I think are relevant to my practice. It is something that I have considered and debated a bit with colleagues as on one side you have a culture that pits artist against artist to fight for the prize, which is not really such a desirable image. But then as a selected artist in a competition you can add that to your CV which is important when applying for funding etc. The bottom line is that competitions are extremely subjective by the nature of judgment, so as an entrant you have always keep that in mind.

Are you a purist with your art materials or willing to mix things about?
Not a purist at all, I love trying to combine methods in all sorts of ways. Perhaps a bit of a traditionalist though, as I like to try to work in the most basic way rather than use modern technology (automatically, but of sometimes modern technology is the right answer) to create a result.

Art as a therapeutic device; do you think it is useful for this purpose and is your work in this category somehow?
My study at the moment relates to art as a means of expressing repressed or subliminal experiences. The art itself doesn’t have to be viewed as a specific narrative, but maybe it carries an expression of the ‘internal landscape’. I think working in a creative way is extremely important for therapy, and some of the things that were commonly worked with the hands as a craft are now moving into the art realm as people aren’t doing things like these (eg knitting or whittling wood) at home much anymore.

Are there any books which may have inspired your work as an artist?
Books, books, books – I have so many books! My hallway has bookcases lining it and they are overflowing – how could I choose only one or two? Reading is a great way to gain inspiration and that can come from novels or artists books etc. At the moment my favourite reads are related to my research, like Jill Bennett, “Empathic Vision” and Jennifer Biddle, “Breasts, Bodies Canvas”.

What discourages you from doing art?
Sometimes it is hard to work as I need to be available for ‘life’, but I think that is good as it keeps me balanced. The trick is to not get too disconnected from where you are with your work, which can happen with too big a break.

What can you tell us about your creative development process?
Sometimes my family will ask a question like “what are you thinking about?’ when I’m looking a bit vague, but I usually say something like, ‘nothing much’, as my head gets very busy working through a visual idea. This starts with something I want to talk about, then I try to work out how this will look as a visual image and probably do some sketches, then I start working out how the print will be constructed and so most of this is milling about in my head for quite a while before the physical print starts to be developed. So it is a great relief to finally get a printed version of what has been occupying my mind for so long! Once an initial print has been made, then the process of developing that work begins, which can also lead to sleepless nights and angst driven moments.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
Perhaps there has always been work that has descriptive text beside it – an aboutness – and perhaps there has always been work that requires no introduction. I’m not concerned if people don’t see what I see or intended in the work, I think it is good to hear people talking about seeing totally different things in one work, so I try to avoid being too descriptive in my titles or statements, but it is an expectation that they exists in many situations.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
Journals are great! It is amazing what you find in old journals. Mine are stacked with all sorts of ideas, clippings, drawings, photos, plants that have been pressed, colour swatches and lines of writing all offering moments to follow up sometime in the future.

Some say the lifespan of an “artist” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Well I thought that you were an emerging artist for about five years after a degree in the world of academia, but I guess that the question refers to how you follow up your degree. If you sit back and do nothing waiting for someone to find you, and then perhaps being an artist has a lifespan, but then that is only relevant if you don’t pick it up again when you’re ready. As a mature age student, I say it’s never too late, and you can make it happen if you really want to.

What or who inspires your art?
Emotions would be the most simplistic answer. I can’t imagine working on something without feeling emotionally connected to the subject matter somehow. But of course what I see in the landscape is also a really strong element, so in a bundle there is a social comment and environmental interest or concerns.

What are you currently working on?
I’m in the last few months of working on my MFA. The project is centered on expressing subliminal experience through art. I have worked with both etching and lithograph as the primary methods for producing prints for the submission and combining these in the prints is also a technical approach to the work. I also maintain my connections with the broader community through my website and blog and I am involved in several print exchanges each year. This is an exchange of work with a group of printmakers from around the world, so it is a lot of fun and a really great way to expand ideas about how to go about making a print. I’m also always developing work for Ballan & Pannan Galleries in Melbourne.

How do you describe your work?
A traditional approach with abstract qualities offering cultural and social commentary with a contemporary feel.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

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Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au Loaded with creativity boosters, professional development strategies, investing/collecting art and activities for Artists and Students…

Art Can…

“Soothe the soul • be awe inspiring • relax us • aggravate • communicate • annoy • colour our world • build skills • raise awareness • form ideas • scintillate • shock • inform • make us laugh • show a way forward • tell us about history • imitate nature • give us an outlet • fill a space • cause dissent • create unrest • make us think • create miracles • inform us • teach us • lead us • create passion • build character • be three dimensional • tell stories • build esteem • give us culture • alter our environment • keep us human • infuriate • give us a place to hide • show us how to explore • build our vocabulary • hold us back • light new paths forward • ease our pain • show others our thinking • make the dark light • make the light dark • increase our knowledge • hold us true to ourselves • influence our thinking • manipulate our feelings • teach us about others • show us other views • give us energy • cause us to explore • show us new worlds • cause us to be introspective • make us extroverted • cause interest • build wealth • health • strength • make us sing • cause us to rejoice • mislead us • take us anywhere • drain us • be unconscious • make us incompetent or competent • illustrate • paint • give form • cause us to write • be two dimensional •  massage the mind • brighten the world • make money • build metaphors • break down barriers • build bridges to new experiences • persuade  • liberate • be useful • fascinate…”

Are there more? Of course! Drop a few suggestions into the comments box, take the link below.

Artist Web Sites… 8 Things to consider.

In putting together this Blog site I have looked at probably 50 – 100 sites now, some for art galleries and some for “artists” from the high end contemporary ones to leisure painters and lots in between.

After looking at so many I have come to the crashing reality that my own site is not all it can be (a few more tweaks yet!) however I have found there are MANY sites that are a down right pain in the butt to look at! Simply put they have a few things that annoy the daylights out of me… In this list I highlight a few and give a few pointers you might like to consider yourself.

  1. Splash pages – Don’t waste my time, get me to the site, and give me a good dose of your best when I get there! What’s a splash page? Well it’s like in a  book when you open it up and get the title page, not yet to the text and so you have to flip another page to get started… Usually it says “Click here to enter…”
  2. Flash sites – If your web dude says “We’ll do it in FLASH!” you might think it sounds great but folks unfortunately its not overly useful for search engines to find them (not enough text usually) and they can take a while to load… (anything over a few seconds and I am out of there!) Sure your web dude will show  you some snappy creative bits but hey that’s not always useful for the end user to find and use your site.
  3. Dud’s – You see the small pic, “Click here to enlarge” so you do… “Error image not found” ARRRGH! not good guys, check your site is operational, or if an image has been taken off, take off the link to it. Do this regularly even if you have not added things to it, and don’t think for a minute that your web dude (or dudette) will do it for you.
  4. Failure to make it useful – Do some research on artists websites and see what the “big guys” are doing, Art Galleries for instance are acutely aware (or they should be) of how to market to the end user, and the good sites seem to belong to the good galleries. The same with artists, think big time artists (cutting edge, avant garde, contemporary, edgey, street wise) you can find them via edgey art – culture – type magazines on the web that have a link to the artists site if they have reviewed them. VERY USEFUL, some of the ones overseas are really up there and happening in relation to the latest technology, design and making a decent impact, yet your “web dude” may not know about them. Heck find one or three and show the web guy what sort of look you want and utilise the research others have done.
  5. Blog – This is all about keeping connected to the end user, the buyers, the galleries, the patrons of the arts, students, teachers you name it. Many of the sites I have seen recently have either failed to keep their blog active (if they have one) or have put lame entries about some kids birthday party they went to… That might be fine for Twitter, or a forum, but not so big for your blog. A blog can also show a work in progress, which can be a fabulous way to engage a possible patron.
  6. Fast loading pics – I get there, I want to see it and I want to see it now, not in five minutes time. Have the site checked by people on a range of computers with varying download speeds, from dial up to high speed broadband. Then make sure the images load fast on all of them.
  7. Know your aim – Is the site for selling, your ego, keeping people informed, making comments about the world around you? Know the aim and set your site up to do one of these well (the other things can be a side consequence).
  8. Get subscribers and do the math – My web guy did this early on for my blog, and I can (some how) check to see how many people are following my blog. It lets people know when I have posted a new article or interview on the site. Also have intstalled Google Analytics and know your stats, the best site in the world with only two people looking at it in the last 6 months is not useful, in fact it’s a waste of money. It’s one thing to be able to be seen 24/7/365 but another thing entirely to be found and regularly checked out. If you are not getting visitors, put your marketing hat on and figure out how to inspire people to go to your site. Being active in Vis Art forums and having links to your site from there is one way, look also at social networking sites…

So make it easy on the viewer and easy on yourself. If you are aiming to sell your work, the end user will want to be able to to connect with your site fast, get a look at what’s going on and go from there.

Art Toys – Toyism

This just in from Alex Pardee I was wondering where this genre had come from, seeing it more and more in Australian art but perhaps the groundswell happened elsewhere.

If “Dammo” can do it, can I do it too?

Damien Hirst the now mega rich English conceptual artist had his own works auctioned to the tune of $111mil (or there abouts) so  that gave me a thought, if he can do it, could I do it too?

In the scheme of things I am a two bit aspiring artist, still coming to terms with my own concepts, stylistic edge etc… but If I went to a big auction house, and offered a bunch of works for them to sell would that work?

1. Would they take the work.

2. Would I get a rude shock if the pieces or even a piece was passed in?

3. Would future possible representative gallery’s see this in a positive light?

It’s worth a thought, “If it worked for Dammo could it work for me too?”

Royalties for Visual Artists

This has been brewing for a while and hopefully the final version will be of wide value all round. The Melb Age newspaper did this article to give an insight as to where it’s at. I know Charles Nodrum the director at Charles Nodrum Gallery has a lengthy email on the topic and if he gives me permission I will reproduce it in here for all to peruse.

Quotes by Artists and the like…

Hey, do you want an insane amount of quotes by artists! Here, check this out… http://www.artquotes.net/

Here are some others I have started to select, enjoy!


If there is a consistent flaw in my early work, it is that I hadn’t yet committed to the elemental conceptuality of the work. I was fighting it, to-ing and fro-ing between thinking of myself as a traditional painter – committed to subjective, self-expressive, well-crafted representational work – and something a lot less easily defined, a multi-disciplinary provocateur for whom painting was just one of several means to an end.

And the end is getting people to think beyond the work in front of them, beyond the alluring material of their hyper-mediated consumerist culture, and recognise what they’ve lost of themselves.”

– from Hazel Dooney’s blog, Self Vs. Self.

“You should often amuse yourself when you take a walk for recreation, in watching and taking note of the attitudes and actions of men as they talk and dispute, or laugh or come to blows with one another… noting these down with rapid strokes, in a little pocket-book which you ought always to carry with you.”

– Leonardo Da Vinci