1. What have been the challenges--and the pleasures--of building a career as a full-time visual artist?
Being a full-time visual artist offers you the opportunity to work with any type of material, art form or space, which is essential to individual growth, learning, and understanding of not only art, but also life in general. You learn how to see the world through a way that other people may not be able to do. You learn how to become the viewer, the curator, the set designer, and the reviewer as well as the artist of the artwork that you create. One of the main pleasures I find whilst creating and building a career as an artist is that you can imagine and fantasize to yourself about how an art sculpture, or piece of artwork will physically appear, before you create that particular piece, whilst everyone else other than yourself has to wait until the artwork has been physically created to see it. There is something nice about the time between imagining what the artwork will look like and having the artwork physically there before you. It's a quiet, peaceful time for me, much like the feeling you receive when you're about to fall asleep, when you are calm and your body is in a relaxed state. The idea of the artwork, I suppose is like a dream, in a sense that only you can have that dream whilst you sleep--it is not something you can share with the entire world unless you make it physical. You can express that dream through writing about that dream, or painting a scenery from that dream that you have had. There's something really satisfying about creating a piece of artwork from the way that you visualize the work in your head, from every detail, color, material. Creating the artwork so that it is a complete replica to how you imagined it to be.
It's like you're unlocking your mind with a key, and allowing all of your wildest dreams and ideas to appear to other people--maybe in hope that they will be able to understand your work the way that you do--for others to understand exactly how you felt in terms of the ideas, the thoughts, and the emotions that you had when creating that artwork. I guess that's what it is all about really as an artist, or for me at least.
A challenge I find as an artist is space. There is never enough space for the artwork that you create, and if you are an artist who is limited to space, you will understand what I mean when I say that it is sometimes difficult to enjoy making artwork when you only have a certain sized area to work in. That said, limiting yourself with space can also be a good thing, as you are always challenging yourself and your art practice through being limited.
2. What is your artistic process like when it comes to getting an idea for a piece and then creating the work over time?
Most pieces of artwork I create are created within a short amount of time. When I begin working on a new piece of artwork, I am often fixated on the completion of the work, and spend countless hours working on the artwork until it is finished. This does often mean that the work is completed within just a few days, or perhaps a few hours even. I do not often plan the artwork before it is created, as I simply enjoy to become hands-on with the work. I don't think this is a bad thing as it gives me no time to regret about the way I create a particular piece. Is that the right color that I should have used on the painting? Is this the right material for this sculpture? It does not matter. What I believe is most important when creating artwork is the concept behind the piece of art that you are creating. You could draw an X on your bedroom wall, and it could be a piece of art, but the interesting aspect of the artwork is why did you choose to draw an X? Is it from the idea that behind the X lies treasure? Or did you close your eyes and press a random key on your keyboard, to choose the letter to draw on your wall? Perhaps it is something more, the beginning of a word, or two drum sticks where one overlaps the other? I can't say I often have a story for each piece of artwork that I create, or a personal meaning behind the individual art sculptures or installations that I generate throughout my career as an artist, but that's not necessary a negative aspect of my career; it just offers my viewers and audience the opportunity to explore the artwork for themselves, without having my view of my artwork affecting how the viewers view the artwork that I create.
3. Would you tell us a little more about the connection between world peace and your role as an artist?
Peace can be promoted through word of mouth, through congregations and talks, through helping other people, and through artwork, music and books. What I'm trying to say is that there is no wrong way to promote peace or world peace--any way is a good way as long as you're promoting it. There's a lot of negative events happening in our world right now, and we don't often hear about the good parts that are happening in the world. Now is the time when we as the human population need to start promoting positivity and peace. We need to put our feet firmly on the ground, stamp and shout together, and show that we will not tolerate bullying, abuse, wars, neglect, and negativity in general. Sure, we may not be any better than those that have gone before us, but by not promoting peace and positivity, how can we expect wars and negative events to just end? I don't know about everyone else and their opinions on war and negativity, but I know that come fifty years down the line, I hope that wars will decrease and more people out there in this world will be supporting and promoting peace themselves. People often say that they want change to happen in this world, but yet, how will it happen if we do not do anything about it? I'm sure wherever you go, you will find bad people--that's inevitable, but by working together we can help prevent some of the negative actions that take place in this world on a daily basis. I am very passionate about promoting world peace and I am very passionate about creating artwork, so why not combine the two?
4. Are there any projects you're currently working on or have recently completed that you're especially excited about?
There is a new gallery opening up in Bradford in England, and it's due to open up at the end of October. It's being organized and opened by a lovely artist known as Lorain Be. I passed by the gallery recently, and painted a few of the panels in the gallery space, so that was very exciting. It's a wonderful place and has potential, so if there is anyone out there interested, then the gallery is called Boots Rebooted, and Lorain is very interested in artists showcasing work there in the future. I will also be showcasing my sculpture "Let"s Play!" at the gallery in the future, as the first group exhibition at Boots Rebooted.
I've just completed two pieces of artwork recently. One is called "Lick" and is of chocolates on a canvas. The idea initially came from the scene from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where the characters are invited to lick the fruit wallpaper in the factory and physically taste the fruit. I wanted to capture that moment of magic, but of course, if I'd have drawn a strawberry with a red felt tip pen, visitors would be quite disappointed in the artwork not tasting like a strawberry! That's where the chocolate came in handy with the artwork. I made small incisions into the canvas and inserted small chocolates pieces into the material. That way you not only get to see the artwork, but taste it as well.
The other piece of work that I have only just created is of an art sculpture and known as "Fly Home Sweet Bird." It's quite difficult to explain how the artwork visually looks [see the photo of it below for an idea], but it's about the lifecycle of birds, from a young to an old age.
5. What is the arts community like in Leeds, and what are some things you enjoy doing there when not working on your art?
You know, it's as good as any other city or country, really. We have Art galleries, an Art Hostel, cafes and venues that exhibit artwork. It's interesting, because everywhere in the world is similar. You can visit any country and you'll find an art gallery. I'm not saying the arts community isn't individual and different from other places than Leeds; we do have events like Light Night every year, but then again, Liverpool has a Light Night event every year also. There is always something interesting in Leeds that relates to art, though, from annual events to new exhibitions in galleries all across the city. It is quite enjoyable, really. When I'm not creating artwork, I enjoy promoting peace and equality, spending time with nature, traveling, and socializing with people around my city, in England, and across the world.