Hello Ilona! What was your starting point for exploring the theme of What Do People Make of Glasgow?
A depiction of a time I fell in love with someone who lived on the other side of the Clyde river, how we met and fell in love dancing in Glasgow. It made me think how many other people’s love stories started the same way, and how in that sense, some things never change. An old classic chat up line in Glasgow makes the title of my work: ‘Are you dancin’? Are you askin’?’
Can you walk us through your creative process?
It begins with observing literally anything and everything as I move through my day. Something may stand out and I begin to turn ‘it’ over in my head and relate it to other things. I strip it back to its basic elements of why it stood out to me, would it stand out to others and what could it be transformed into. Can it speak on its own or does it need symbolism to help it make a point? Sometimes it makes it to the drawing phase and that’s where it would be taken to production e.g. painting, collage etc. Most of my studies of things never see the light of day as I think the viewer wouldn’t connect with it. So, most of my process is in my head and only really a tiny bit of it is in production, so as far as the viewer is concerned it may look like I don’t make much, but really I just want to make something worthwhile to look at.
How did your artistic journey start?
It started with Crayola pens and coloured paper sitting on my living room floor at the same time my memory had only just started to record, so probably about 3 or 4 years old. Drawing was one of the rare things at that age that you were trusted to do by yourself, that independence through creation gave me confidence, freedom and a path. So pretty much for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be making Art.
How has your practice changed over time?
As we refer to it as artistic ‘practice’ and not artistic ‘finished’ it’s important to always look for ways to improve it or at least, evolve it. That’s what I try to do, I try to improve how my work connects with the viewer, to give them a moment that could only happen with them and my piece. So I guess the way it’s changed most recently is from thinking about having this highly polished perfect finished piece, to instead thinking about how the viewer will react, how long they will stay looking at the work, will the work follow them and make them think differently?
How do you overcome creative blocks?
Good question, there is no set way for even one person. I know that patience is a big part of it. It’s important to have other things to do, as an artist has to be so many things other than just someone who makes work these days. When you can’t be creative, at least be productive, do something like research, build canvas, work in the garden, go help your friends with something they’re doing. That way you’ll have dedicated time for creation, it takes the pressure off and even if nothing is made, you feel productive and therefore keep positive. Then when it’s right, the work will come, just be patient with yourself, you can’t force it cause then you’ll burn out.
Who influences you? Which other artists work do you love?
Rene Magritte and Gerhard Ritcher have always been my all-time favourite painters. I take a lot of inspiration from films too so I should mention directors like Hayao Miyazaki, Charlie Kaufman, Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg.
What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out?
Do your work for yourself first, don’t try to impress anyone or mimic others who you perceive as successful. There is real purity in a raw idea so don’t be afraid to chase it. Dig deep into yourself, into what you really want to say and what you think others should be thinking about. Stay true to your ideas, it’s more important than any success or failure. Be open to advice from those who want you to succeed, it can help push your work or you even further than before. Don’t be critical of your work whilst you’re making it, save the judgement for later and learn from your mistakes then. Draw a lot, regardless of your medium of choice, drawing is the alphabet of the artistic language, use it to smith your words and create your own story.
Unknown Errors runs at Six Foot Gallery until 19th September 2023.