Monday, 5 March 2007

Interview with David Shillinglaw

q)Something about you…what you want…

a)I don’t sit still for very long. I distract easily. I am very driven by the things I do, I over commit myself, which leaves room for chaos. I give a nod to chaos: everything moves towards chaos. I enjoy journeys more than the destination. Drawing is something I do everyday because it makes me feel better, making art is a medication and meditation for me, without it I am lost.
I search for the freedom to persue creative output, and answer to no one but nature.

q) What are your main goals when you create?

a)To translate and communicate ideas and investigate the human condition, while also embrassing chance and the mistakes that happen along the way.

q) Do you rule by any tendency in your creative work, or you only follow what comes in your mind?

a)I tend to make work every day, while travelling on a bus or at the breakfast table, the main tendency is a constant collection of things, ideas and marks. There are running themes throughout my work, but my ideas and media changes as I experience new things. The only constant is change, and I don’t feel complete unless I am making something.

q)How has the internet and your website helped you spread your artwork to a wider audience?

a)I am always amazed by the internet. To me it seems endless and get bigger every day. And in many ways I look to it both to research and promote my artwork. However, I also feel the development of the internet and email has massively reduced the amount of hand made communication. People have started to rely on this super-quick, super-slick medium to communicate and distribute. I am still a big fan of hand written letters and sending things through the post. I still get excited when I receive a package, I am rarely excited to receive and email.

q)How do you define your style and how would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?

a)This is a good question. How do you describe an image to someone who cannot see it. Is this possible? But something like; my work is made by layering colours, textures, patterns and motives to create images and maps that tell stories. I hope the images take on a life of their own. Often the material I work with becomes part of the image and this can be anything from a piece of wood, or a pizza box. By its very nature my work changes daily and I am uncomfortable trying to define a style; I think things are more interesting the less they are defined. I tend to let the reader define the work for me.

q)What materials do you use to realize your creations?

a)The material I use vary and more often than not in find these material on the street or in trash cans. If I am working on a commission, a client will sometimes request that a painting is on canvas or paper, I also enjoy the canvas surface and I celebrate the history that comes with painting on canvas. But for me, the act of turning something considered junk into something considered art is a form of alchemy, I think recycling is essential, and I appreciate the aesthetic that is achieved by using found materials.
I use spray paint, oil paint, acrylic, domestic paint, ink, pencil, oil stick. I have become reliant on a sewing machine to bind work and I now alo use the sewing machine as a drawing tool. I feel that a drawing can be made by any means, and I often make drawings that respond to my environment, therefore I use the materials and tools that are readily available to me at the time.

q) What is your favorite a) taste b) sound c) sight d) scent e) tactile sensation?

a)a)favourite taste: cinnamon, coffee and fresh air.
b)Sound: suburban bird song.
c)Sight: a blank canvas is nice, but I also like the view from my front door because I live on the top floor of a very big old building and I can see into all the back gardens of the houses below.
d)Scent: Marrakech, a new book.
e)Tactile sensation: holding hands with my familia, cool breeze on a warm day/ warm breeze on a cold night.

q) What are you doing now…your current projects…

a)Currently I am opening an art gallery and starting a magazine. I live and work in an old factory, and I have converted half of the main space into an exhibition space. The gallery/zine has a web site, and acts as a platform to display and promote artists and projects. The gallery is NowhereNorth, and can be found at For submissions or info email
I have just returned from China where I was artist in residence at the NYArts Gallery in Beijing, China. When I get back I am doing some artwork for the Chicken Shed Theatre Company for a dance production in May.
My gallery will also be doing a guest group show in August at the Nancy Victor Gallery in London. And right now I am planning a twin group show with the Hagan St Philip Gallery in the south Bronx NYC.

q) Do you listen to music while you’re painting and what do you listen and what do you like to listen?

a)I always listen to music when I make artwork.
Right now my playlist reads something like:
Bob Dylan
David Bowie
Ugly Cassanova
Square Pusher
The Kooks
Erika Baddu
Rolling Stones
Juana Molina
Ben Harper
Tommy Guerrero
The Good the Bad and the Queen.
And a few tracks I have no idea who by, found on compilation tapes.
I enjoy a lot of sounds and it depends what mood I am in or what mood I want to be.

q) Do you draw influences from a wide range of artists, musicians, books…?

a)For sure. I studied art for a few years so I have a knowledge of art history, so there are a few usual suspects like Picasso, Mattise, Basquait, Harring, Miro, Kirt Shphitters, and I love the work of Barry Mcgee, Chris Johanson, Thomas Campbell and Phil Frost, especially as these guys are still moving and shaking, the whole alleged gallery-“beautiful losers” scene really hits the spot for me. I enjoy a mix of high art and low culture, so im often just as inspired by trash I find in the street, old comic books or wall writing. Books are also very important, I love the beats, currently I am reading a theory book about phychogeography. And I just finished a great book called “Chess” by Stefan Zweig.

q)Name 3 things you couldn’t create without?

2.Some kind of surface
3.A sense of humour

q) Where have you show your art…?

a)London: The Nancy Victor Gallery, The Foundry, A+D Gallery, Hoxton Works, Nowhere North, The Abbey Arts Centre, The OXO Tower,
NY: The Hagen St. Philip Gallery,
NYArts Gallery Beijing, China.
Costa Rica, El Café Rico.
street locations throughout Europe and Morrocco.

q) What haven’t you done yet that you definitely want to try someday?

a)Make an exhibition in Morrocco. Publish a book. Go into space. Build myown Dark room. Live in a treehouse made of wood.

q) How important is self-promotion for an artist nowadays?

a)It depends how important it is for people to see your work. If an artist wants the world to see their work, then they have to be self promoting. But I think there is a thin line between making work to promote and promoting the work you make.
Some of the best artists I know still don’t have web site and rarely exhibit,
It all depends on the amount of attention you require.
But generally self promotion is very important so you can create a dialogue between the work you make and the people who see it. I enjoy making small books and giving them out to people I meet. Personal promotion is best, I think artists should represent themselves.

q) Would you say that your work consciously reflects characters and situations found within your daily life?

a)Absolutely. I make a lot of work while I am travelling, on a bus or train, or sitting having coffee. I enjoy the smaller moments, the everyday, the ordinary, like when a road sweeper is eating a sandwich, an old lady is smoking a cigarette or a business man is asleep on the train. These moments say a lot about who we are.

q) Favourite book?

a)The Dice Man- Luke Rienheart
On the Road- Jack Kerouac
If on a winters Night A Traveller- Italo Calvino
Fear and Loathing in Las Vagas- Hunter S. Thomson
The Watchman- Alan Moore
Tales of Ordinary Maddness- Charles Bukowski
In Watermellon Sugar- Richard Brautigan
Chess- Stefan Zweig

q) Designers/Artists you admire?

Kurt Shphitters
Borris Hoppek
Thomas Campbell
Phil Frost
David Carson
Neasden Contol Centre
Chris Ware
Chipp Kidd
Sabrina Ward Harrison
Robin Footitt
James Hutchinson

q) Your contacts….e-mail…links…

a)my web site:
Email: /
Other links:


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