What did you focus on when you studied at Central St Martins?
I mostly worked in the medium of film, initially by myself and then for my final year, collaborating with someone else, which was carnage. We were friends and then started working together and we would argue the entire time about whether or not something was worthwhile artistically. So, we decided to use these arguments as the basis for our final show. Essentially, we recorded all these segments of our heated discussions and turned it into a film. We ended up with 5 or 6 hours of recordings, which we had to trawl through, finding bits that we liked, changing things around a bit and then we got a couple of actors in to come in and perform certain segments.
And what are you up to these days?
Now I’m doing more writing. Technically I’m working for a magazine but I’ve only written one article for them so far. It’s a small, mostly digital magazine called 1883 and my first article was an interview feature with the artist, Patrick Hughes.
What do you want to write about next?
I know a lot of people who on social media are just complete freaks (including myself) and don’t take it seriously at all. We’ll just constantly be changing our names to stupid things or trying to embarrass ourselves as much as humanly possible. And I want to write about what prompts that. It’s like a cloak in a way- if you’re only ever taking the piss, no one can ever criticise you because it’s not serious.
What’s the inspiration behind the cover?
Well I’ve not done anything within the realms of “fine art” for ages because that wasn’t my focus at art school. So it’s been about 4 years since I’ve properly drawn something for a project. My cover takes inspiration from things that are aesthetically pleasing that I’ve been immersed in recently. At work, I’ve constantly been having to un-frame and re-frame this optical art picture by Victor Vasarely and so there are elements of that in there. But it is the complete opposite to the approach that I would normally take when making something, because I had to just start the cover and get it done. Whereas at art school, we would be in the planning stages, analysing whether something was interesting, new or worth doing for ages.
Was that an overarching theme at art school; whether something had value artistically?
That was definitely an overarching theme, yes. You can’t just rock up there and make something and say you thought it was nice. It has to be saying something more. But now, no one knows how to challenge the status quo anymore, so art is in this weird self-conscious limbo.
Why is that?
I don’t know. It’s a question that a lot of people have considered. Maybe because of the immediacy of information that the internet offers, everyone has already seen everything. 200 years ago, painters were being trained by successful painters in certain schools and you would have had no concept of whether or not what you were doing was intellectually valuable. Now however, when you’re aware of a wider context, it becomes impossible to avoid that question. Which makes art school so ridiculous- it’s kind of a nightmare, because whatever you create, everything always reverts back to the question of whether it is relevant.
Is there a show you’ve seen recently that stuck in your mind?
Yes, there was an exhibition at the Tate Britain by Mark Leckey. He’s a Liverpudlian and used to hangout under one of those big concrete underpasses. He did a huge installation where he recreated that space in the gallery and had all these videos playing around the outside of young people today in the same place as he used to spend time, as well as media from when he was young. It felt like it spanned so much time. That’s the kind of thing I’m normally really interested by.
Does coming from a family who aren’t immersed in the art world affect the way you work at all?
It gave me a different perspective and certainly made me more aware of the gulf between the art world and the rest of the population. It’s very easy when you go to art school to get dragged into a vortex of art and become completely unrelateable to anyone. I do think you have something of a responsibility to be relatable but then from a personal perspective, I don’t make things with that thought in the back of my mind. So it’s a fine line between being relevant and not making anything new.