As a self-taught artist, how did you learn / teach yourself how to do your art?
I had a pencil, some pens and a sketchbook. Nothing special. I’m not really an advocate for any specific tools.
I think my design brain understood what I needed to do in terms of composition, layout, symmetry, balance. I was way less focused on what I was writing or drawing as I was on just the art of practicing it. I was really interested in the process and just understanding, learning from every individual piece.
Of course there was stuff online I could try or reference for inspiration but a lot of it was just experimentation and being inspired by the stuff I was seeing in Asia, infusing that into my work, whether that’d be type styles or compositions.
My travels inspired what I was writing so I would write things like “coffee and cigarettes” because there was a morning I had that for breakfast. Or maybe I would just write a city I’d been to like “Luang Prabang, Laos.”
A lot of trial and error.
I always loved mixing colors when I was a child, so that was something I did first — try to figure out what made a color.
Learning technique was really hard and I tried to make sure to ask people a lot of questions who were in the craft and who I looked up to. Thankfully Instagram makes it so nice to be able to connect with other artists. And depending on their caliber, artists will get back to you or they won’t. The ones who do get back to you I feel have a lot of good points and tips on how to make your craft a little bit better.
I decided I should go back to Sydney, Australia, where I was born because I was turning 40 and I needed to treat myself to something.
I traveled around the whole country in a van for 13 months and I painted the whole time. I didn’t go there to paint, but I did it just to entertain myself since I had a lot of time on my hands. I painted probably over 200 paintings on that trip and that helped me learn paint — the actual paint — and how to use it to my advantage later. That also helped with just the actual prolific part of making art, churning it out.
I don’t have any formal training so how I’ve learned so far is just figuring things out myself and absorbing from friends and people I look up to. [And] trial and error.
When I work out in the public or do a live painting people often say, I wish I could do that. And I was that person wishing I could paint with acrylic. But then I was like, How do I do this? And I sat down and slowly learned. Sure it took me many, many years, but it’s still something I’m able to do now and will continue to do and try to be better.
I was finishing a lot of stuff with resin at that time and that really made my stuff pop. It’s kind of a pain to do, so I don’t really do it as much. And that’s what prompted me to build cradles around my stuff because for that show I was pouring everything over the sides and I wasted so much material doing that. So that goes along with that trial and error thing that I do where it was like, How do I save myself a lot of money by not losing all that resin?
I’d always wanted to use spray paint because I liked how fast it was. That Dave [Tevenal] dude that I did that show with, I’d see him finish painting pieces in two hours and I was like, How do I do that? Then I realized that I’m not that good with spray paint, so I kind of adapted my own version of that.