A good starting point is to question how I know that I am an artist?
As an artist a good proportion of my work is an attempt to understand what art is and why, at my core, I know that I am an artist. In my case, this is interesting because I am not particularly talented with my hands. At art school most of the other artists were significantly more technically proficient painters and sculptors than me. However, I knew with some certainty that I was as much an artist as anyone else on the course and, indeed, I felt a strong kinship with a whole series artists that inspired me (Robert Rauschenberg, Marina Abramovic, Yves Klein, Robert Smithson, Martha Rosler, John Cage, the Fluxus movement, 1960s minimalist artists to mention only a few).
In the book “Just Kids’ Patti Smith explains how, even though she wasn’t yet famous, she “felt an inexplicable sense of kinship” when she saw Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the members of Jefferson Starship in a bar at the Chelsea Hotel just before their performance at Woodstock. I really identify with this feeling.
Thus I’m always interested in exploring what it is that makes me an artist. I think the answer is that there is nothing special about me. In fact, if everyone is an artist, it will be possible for me to feel that kinship with any other human being that is ready to explore their own creativity.
The importance of experience over object
One of the propositions underlying my work is that the wonderful experiences offered by art are an internal phenomenon, something that happens inside the viewer, rather than being external to our inner senses and perception. The art industry tends to focus on objects because this is what can be bought and sold. However, for me, art is within in the subject (viewer), and the art object can only be a poetry transmission mechanism between artist and viewer.
My job as an artist is to find poetry everywhere
I consider that my job as an artist is to find the poetry in every moment regardless of where I am or what I am doing. In this way, for me, the most exciting art often tends to be non-conventional. I love galleries, exhibitions and traditional art forms. Indeed, this often gets me very excited and passionate. However, I am most excited by finding poetry in the unexpected, sometimes even banal, moment. In this way, I tend to focus my work in non-conventional forms and outside of the gallery system or art industry.
A mindset of radical equality
My starting point in making work is one of radical equality, avoiding pre-set distinctions, labels, borders and coding. This is set out in the Radical Gallery Proposition, from which all my work emanates. Focusing on the viewer’s experience, the Radical Gallery aims to activate art works outside established conventions and codes. This not only proposes radical ideas on the definition of art, it has also offered me new insights on urban regeneration, economic policy, self development and the meaning of life. My hope is that all of my work is informed by this attitude.
Gallery v sketchbook work
I have often found that the most powerful art ‘moment’ is at the time when the work is created or first shared with another person. In this way, I tend to avoid trying to perfect my work so that it is ‘gallery ready’. I have no interest in excessive refinement of my work in order to make it flawless. I tend to work quickly and churn out a high volume of ideas and work. I prefer to get these ideas and works out in raw form in order to share them rather than spending ages trying to perfect a selected subset of them.
That said, I appreciate that, in some circumstances, a flaw in an art work can be disruptive to the viewer, so it is an area of my work where I try and find the right balance. Nevertheless, I treat my website as a sketchbook so that I can ‘show’ all my work that has reached a sufficient level of resolution even if it is still in draft form.
I don’t need to be paid to make art
At art school I became known as the person who didn’t think that artists need to be paid! This was a misrepresentation of my views. I do believe that art and creativity are fundamental human needs as important as breathing, eating and sex. In this way, I do not need to be paid to do it! In fact, just as it would be absurd to expect to be paid to breathe, there is something flawed in expecting to be paid for making my art work. That said, I appreciate that making art a full-time occupation requires some way of covering living expenses. So I have no problem in artists being paid for their work if they do this full-time. Further, I would be happy if art collectors wanted to buy my work. I’m just never going to focus on that upfront as I may be more likely to do in my other business ventures.