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Being An Artist

February 10, 2014

All Present2

The tone of my writing is changing through time, because it’s a direct reflection of my thoughts which are evolving through my work and thinking and also my desire to explain art and what it is to be an artist from my perspective. Over time fewer people read what I write and I see this as a test of my resolve because my creative output is not about popularity but integrity and I see it as a reflection of the  bigger picture of society. My observations are also allowing me a new perspective or overview of the society in which I exist.

I had an unconventional upbringing and was always a bit of an outsider, which in one sense gave me the ideal platform for being an artist, an observer and not a true participant, because of this I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics of human behaviour and as a child was always drawn to helping the victims of bullying something that still resonates in my daily life. But this also involved an empathic approach to life which has been my stiffest challenge and now as I get older these fundamental aspects of my being have aided my passage through life and also used against me on many levels and from unexpected quarters. In fact the treatment you receive as an artist either breaks you or wakes you up into a radical free thinking individual that says it like it is.

I’m an ambitious man but not a competitive man, my work and achievements are not at the expense of others and I never climb over people to get to the front, instead I do what I do with pride and integrity and over the years this has pissed a lot of people off, I think it’s because I never became part of the rat race and always tried to rationalise behaviour and unmask the deceptive qualities of leveraged manipulative behaviour. The behaviours that uphold the hierarchical structures of society that rely on henchmen at all levels to police and maintain compliant approaches. The controlling measures of society are at all levels and upheld by the law, but if you live within the confines of the rules you need not fear, but the threat of fear is ever-present and curtails our freedoms in a deep psychological way. People have often commented on my ways, for breaking rules and wondered how I’ve survived for nearly 30 years living only off the fruits of my art, so much so that I felt I had to understand just why I was drawn to deviation from the norm and it led me to this heavy conclusion.

Art is a very serious business, it can also be beautiful, funny, uplifting and  spiritual, but making art involves asking a lot of questions and understanding the society you live in, if your path brings you to ask these questions then it seems only right that you should address them in a genuine way, because art requires integrity if it is to be revered and taken seriously. There is a back story to a lot of art, all the thinking, contemplation and musings that result in the gesture of art that is offered to society and in a way that is the gift, a window into the insight of individuals who dedicate their life to what can often be a thankless task in a brutal environment. It’s not just about pretty pictures and sculptures to adorn the houses of the affluent but a statement of often quite a serious philosophical nature.

So in my own life I’ve never sought to gather wealth and chase fame and notoriety, I opted for integrity and for this  I’ve taken one hell of a beating over the years, because society looks upon a life-like mine as a failure, it took me to the point of complete inertia and broke my spirit, so much so that it has taken 4 years of hard work to rebuild my esteem and find the confidence and belief to produce work once again that is the real me. Whilst I feel scarred by my experiences, I feel no real bitterness because I always knew it would be tough doing it my way, I just never realised in the end that it would come down to a solitary pursuit, one man and his sculpture lol. It always goes back to the rubber ball dream my father once had about me (being a rubber ball), that no matter what happens to me in my life, I always come bouncing back, stronger, brighter and more defiant, eternally optimistic.

I often write quite provocative things because art is about reaction, I don’t do it as an affectation but as a statement of what I feel are truths to me, I also do it with my art and reactions are very varied, but there are often over defensive reactions when I strike a nerve, a gentle reminder. I no longer fear these reactions (as I once did) and as a result can go much further with my work, though it is always veiled by aesthetic requirements that I feel are the duty of a visual communicator, never an absolute narrative, but a feeling to evoke a reaction deep within.

It’s through reactions to my work that I have seen the aspects of human behaviour that I referred to earlier, particularly the judgemental comments that overstep the mark into a personal judgement of me on a human level, I’ve come to see these comments as veiled threats for overstepping boundaries and part of the bullying aspect of society, but having said that the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. I know that so many people can sense the possibilities of flying freely from the constraints of societal oppression, yet feel tied and bound, held in a web of compromise.

I feel it’s so important to write down my thoughts and reactions from a life in art, but a truthful one, no bullshit or pretense for popularity, to say it like it is and do it like it is with my work. This isn’t about career building or performing to society, it’s about the reality of an everyday struggle you face as an artist pitted against the odds.



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