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Interview with the Artist (part 2).

What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

I’m inspired all the time and am always filling up little art notebooks with ideas for paintings. The inspiration behind a lot of my work comes from wanting to express something within myself and usually associated with the things I love (or dislike) about life or have experienced. Some are metaphor, others more obvious. Music is big influence and of course.. emotion plays it’s part.
I keep motivated by looking at other people’s art or by (as mentioned) changing mediums. I just really love all aspects of creating art so motivation isn’t too much of an issue.

What were your early influences when starting to paint?

I have certainly been inspired and influenced by the many different art movements over the years but like music, my tastes have changed a little in respect to some.. although I have certainly gained from their presence. My earlier work was definitely inspired by Van Gogh, and I still enjoy looking at Vincent’s pictures along with other European painter’s such as Modigliani, Manet and Picasso.

OK, what artists have influenced you the most and why?

I guess this is the name dropping part right? Mmm.. let’s see..
Michael Leunig
For showing me that less really is more. He is able to say so much with so little detail. Definitely an inspiration early on and I’m a sucker for satirical cartoons!
Brett Whiteley
His work helps remind me from time to time to take more risks and think about challenging or engaging the viewer. There’s also something about his paintings and also Vincent Van Gogh’s which makes me feel somewhat welcomed…like the familiarity of meeting an old friend – I can’t quite work out why though. Also showed me that great art can also have a sense of humour!
George Gittoes
Definitely one of Australia’s greatest living artists and a little under appreciated. His art workshops many years ago gave me an introduction and insight into art from both sides of the canvas and inspired me to give the brush a more prominent place in the arsenal. Yep, blame George.
Vincent Van Gogh
It’s all been said by too many others, but you have to ignore or put to one side the popularity and commercialism to really appreciate his brushmanship.
Contemporary Artists & Illustrators
The internet has opened my eyes to an endless array of known and unknown artists who now influence and excite me the most. these days I get just as much enjoyment from a reasonably unknown artist’s work than that of an experienced and respected artist. I do have some personal favourites and notable influences though. I adore the illustrative work of American artists Brad Holland, Joe Sorren and the digital art of Canadian Chet Phillips. Some other gems include Australian illustrator Shaun Tan, Brad Holland, Blaine Fontana, Jack Unruh, Natalie Shau, Sterling Hundley, John Puglisi, Ami Rice and Banksy to name a few..
I don’t know how to broach questions concerning art vs. illustration, mainly because illustrator friends of mine sometimes get offended. Its an old argument.

Do you find that an issue with your work? The blurring of boundaries between art and illustration?

I love blurring the boundaries. It used to worry me a bit coming from a drawing background and working mainly with line. I’ve since found out there are no rules. I can get knocked out just as much by a spot illustration in a magazine as I can by a four-foot canvas. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
I have to be careful though. With music for example, I can sometimes get caught up listening to what the horn player or piano is doing on a track and miss the whole point…you know what I mean? You can get too close to it. I think that’s what happens when I look at magazine illustration. I’m often thinking “now is that oil pastel or dry brush there?” or “ how did they get that shadow effect on the text.. and what font is that?” I sometimes can’t help myself. So personally, I don’t think there is an issue with it.
I still swing from pen, pastel and ink to brush and rag…whatever suits the piece I’m working on. To make matters even more complicated, I also do a lot of digital art and illustration.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Don’t try to be a famous artist. Just focus on doing good work and building up a body (or portfolio) of work you can be proud of. Put it online!
Believe in yourself and trust your instincts. Be critical of your own work and learn how to take criticism from others.
There are not better artists, just better publicists.
Engulf yourself in art. Learn more about it and don’t have blinkers on. Study traditional and contemporary art styles and mediums.
Follow your heart and enjoy yourself, but be prepared for some disappointment along the way. Promote yourself. Find like-minded souls to share your frustrations with!

Journal Comments

  • Magda Vacariu
  • Leith