Monthly Archives: March 2015

  • Louis-Nicolas Darbon: Artist Interview

    Louis-Nicolas Darbon takes inspiration from his travels, fashion and celebrity culture to create vibrant and dynamic images, packed with exuberance and colour. He is a leading voice in the domain of men's fashion and presides over a very influential blog on the world of gentlemen style. Lo....
    Louis-Nicolas Darbon takes inspiration from his travels, fashion and celebrity culture to create vibrant and dynamic images, packed with exuberance and colour. He is a leading voice in the domain of men's fashion and presides over a very influential blog on the world of gentlemen style. Louis very kindly took some time out during a trip to Miami to answer some questions for us and give some fascinating insight into his life and art. What is the significance of the icons and celebrities that feature in your work? We live in a world where we are surrounded by celebrities and to me Kate Moss is the most incredible super model of our times in my opinion, Cara Delevigne is the new Kate without a doubt and Kendall is the biggest celebrity phenomenon of our times- both with incredible social media status.With regards to icons, Basquiat of course is a huge inspiration and Steve McQueen is my favourite fashion icon of all times. I would however never paint anyone that I don't find incredible just because they are super famous or have amazing social media following, I will only paint people that I find inspirational. Destroy You have a very well respected, popular fashion blog and work within the industry. Does the world of fashion inform your art or do you see it as a separate entity? Well, thank you very much, I am honoured! Art and fashion are very much part of the same world for me, I take inspiration from the fashion world to my artworks and vice versa. I definitely think that I've become braver in dressing and mixing colours thanks to the art and fashion trends are a big inspiration for some of my works  and of course luxury brand's logos! How would you describe your work? Fun and liberating bursting with energy and colours! What is your fashion tip for us at artrepublic for the upcoming spring season? A military army jacket, a scarf with a great print and some fun slippers and you are set for the season. Destroy Do you listening to anything in particular whilst working? It can be anything from classical music to pop and house, I can’t work in silence it stresses me. Where did you grow up? Were you a creative child and how did your upbringing influence your art? Destroy  I grew up in Versailles and Paris, and I have been painting since, well forever. I think I was only around 2 when I held a paintbrush in my hand for the first time and since then I was always painting. My mother has quite a creative hand, so it’s definitely from her I got the creative gene. My parents were always supportive and got me a little studio in the house where I could paint with no one disturbing, it’s been kept like that since then and I love going through some old stuff from when I was a kid. What made you become an artist? I always painted on the side of University or work, but always kept it as a passion on the side. When I met my girlfriend she was the one who pushed me into taking it a step further to really evolve and supported me to produce more artwork. Step by step since about two and a half years ago, I could never have dreamt of where I am today, it is like a dream come true. Destroy Where and what is your studio? In the heart of Notting Hill, only a few steps from Portobello Road, which for me is the most inspiring part of London. How do you approach the actual making of your work? When I have an image in mind or the vision of the final work, I am always so anxious to get it down on a canvas, or piece of cardboard or wood – whatever it is that I am creating it on! As I go along I discover what works and what doesn’t, if I want to work with a collage or some other material, what will be a stencil and what will be hand painted – it all kind of happens naturally. What would you say are the main themes you pursue? Icons, luxury fashion brands and a bit of irony of our world today. Destroy How do you choose your subjects? It really varies, the other day I got an amazing piece of fabric of the American flag and I knew straight away I wanted to paint on it and then it suddenly hit me what I wanted to create. Sometimes it’s a great photograph of someone very iconic – it really depends. Destroy Where do you find inspiration? It can be anywhere or anything, I can find inspiration at every corner – from fashion, vintage fabric markets to exhibitions I see. I find a lot of inspiration from travelling especially in Miami or LA – or just around the corner in my neighbourhood in Notting Hill. Destroy What are you currently working on? I’m always working on several pieces at the same time, sometimes I start on one piece and then when it doesn’t feel 100% I have to leave it and I start on something else. I am currently producing the pieces that will be in my first solo show later this spring – watch this space. Which of your works are you most proud of? The melting Chanel No5 neon bottle that I created on wood was one of my first ever pieces that got included in an exhibition, it was part of the “NewSchool2” exhibition at Graffik Gallery and I had no idea it would get so much attention and that it later would become one of my signature pieces. Do you care whether people like your work? Of course, in the end of the day I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t because people liked my stuff and actually wanted a piece for their home. But then again not everyone will like my stuff because they have a different taste and sometimes its good to get feedback from people who are not into your works. Destroy Who would you say buys your work? Anyone who loves pop colours, fashion and iconic portraits! You might think that my art has a certain age group but I’ve met many of my buyers and they are all so very different and I have collectors in all ages which I find really inspiring! You can never get too old for a ‘Scrooge’ or a great neon Chanel No5 bottle. What’s the most memorable piece of advice you’ve received in regards to your art? To always evolve and experiment with new techniques, work with new materials and mediums. Destroy If you weren’t an artist how do you think you would you express yourself creatively?  Probably as a menswear fashion designer. Is there an art form you don’t relate to? I am not a huge fan of landscape or sculptures of old kings – they even kind of freak me out. Destroy Which artists do you most admire? Warhol of course, Russell Young, RETNA for his amazing murals, Kobra (I love his street art piece of Basiquat in Wynwood Miami) just to name few. Finally when would you say are you happiest- creating the work, exhibiting, finishing it? Tough question, creating the work is always inspiring, exciting and challenging as I can change my mind along the way and the piece will come out looking completely different than what I would have imagined and that’s always exciting! Finishing it always has that satisfaction element to it and when you get really attached to the piece, exhibiting it has that mixed feelings of excited and nervous at the same time! artzine your guide to everything that's happening in the art world   image credit: View all Louis-Nicolas Darbon prints available $test =
  • Dan Hillier: Artist Interview

    Destroy We are thrilled to have the work of Dan Hillier with us at artrepublic. Dan's unique artistic practice sees him engaging with the craft of the past by bringing Victorian imagery into the 21st century. He was thrust into the general public's attention last year when his stunning im....
    Destroy We are thrilled to have the work of Dan Hillier with us at artrepublic. Dan's unique artistic practice sees him engaging with the craft of the past by bringing Victorian imagery into the 21st century. He was thrust into the general public's attention last year when his stunning image Pachamama was used by local Brighton band Royal Blood on the cover of their chart topping debut album. We caught up with Dan in his Stoke Newington studio to discuss his creative process, the Peruvian psychedelic drink ayahuasca and the influence of Bjork amongst other things, in our latest artist interview. Can you describe for us at artrepublic your style of art? A hotchpotch. They're collages made from bits and pieces of old Victorian prints, which I source from 1800s woodcuts, engravings, anatomical drawings and various illustrations. I scan them into Photoshop and then play around layering them up to make new images. What I do has been called Surrealism and Neo-Victoriana in the past. Steampunk is another title that gets put on it but I’m not really keen on that. People like it because the work looks quite modern whilst also being of Victorian times. It looks like it comes from a while back in time but has that modern flavour, I think that largely comes about because there is a lot of white space rather than having an overcrowded background. What I’ve realised over the years is what I’m seeking to make is my own kind of iconographical work, much like the church icons you get of the mother and child or Buddhist and Hindu cosmological deities. It’s something along those lines, and generally what happens is as I try to make those, something else will come through. Destroy So you don’t rigidly plan what the images will look like?  With the main way I work, I will start with one element or an idea of what I want to move towards making. I’ll often start with a face, animal or bit of scenery, then go through and seek out what I think will work well with that and let the picture build itself. I did a talk recently where I was comparing the creative process with the shamanic process. Both of those things, as far as I’m concerned, involve getting yourself out of the way and letting the creative through fare build the picture. Both of them are bringing the formless into form and are about channelling something, without being too grand about it. When I work it it’s very much about letting the pictures put themselves together and just being around the edges tapping them into place. Destroy There’s also that interesting thing that the people you use had their own separate life before entering your world…  With the elements I’m using they were real people who existed and their likeness is being used for something that had probably nothing to do with their worldview. My pictures are quite psychedelic and unusual; some have very clear faces that have been used for the masks or central elements in pictures. Destroy So we must touch upon the album artwork you created for Royal Blood, how did that project come about? The band got in touch and commissioned me to make a new picture for them, which I did. Then Mike (lead singer) saw Pachamama and decided he wanted that because he was looking for something really feminine. I had to have a think about it because she’s quite precious to me, I really love that picture. I’m very glad they did use it as it’s great to get it out there. It works as a good counterpoint to the music, which is very masculine. It’s not this perfect match of art and music but it’s good to have that contrast there. I met up with the guys, we talked and got on well and they just asked for a picture without any sort of guidance, which really suits me. People are more aware of my work now and when I’m showing at fairs they will stop and recognise the image. It’s definitely brought more interest my way and I’ve had a really good reaction to the album. A lot of people have got in touch to say they’ve got into my work through the band and said how much they’ve enjoyed seeing something that’s had a lot of thought and time and love go into it. Destroy In your personal life you’ve mentioned how taking the psychedelic medicinal drink ayahuasca has had a profound impact on you. Have these spiritual experiences manifested in your art? I’m making more work now and about to release the first work I’ve made since I’ve been drinking it. I came back from my first trip to Peru and thought my work is really aligned with what happens in ayahuasca ceremonies and that mythical, visionary state of mind that one can get into. I’ve been meeting a lot of people in ayahuasca circles who have quite a unanimous reaction in that they recognise their experiences with the medicine in my work. I don’t know how much it’s going to change the style or how it looks, but it’s definitely knocked my focus into line in terms of what I’m doing with my work and simplified it. I used to struggle when people asked me what my work is about and it wasn’t something I thought about in huge amounts. The thing with ayahuasca is that it’s just opened my mind and heart further to mystery, wonder and amazement. That’s essentially what I’m trying to put out in my work. Destroy What artists do you look to for inspiration? Max Ernst is probably the first influence I’ve got to mention. He did a book called ‘A Week of Kindness’ which I first saw when I was 19. It’s a book of collages he made back in the 1930s where he spliced together images using bits and pieces of illustrations from encyclopaedias and novels. It’s a really interesting and dark romp through the days of the week. Each day has a theme, its quite a methodically thought out thing but it’s so open to interpretation. A lot of Freudian analysis has been done on the pictures. He’s definitely a big influence in what I do. When I started making these pictures in 2004, I remembered this stuff by Ernst I had seen and went back to it. Destroy Where and what did you study?  Destroy I did Graphic Arts and Illustration at what is now called Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. I just basically partied and mucked about for the first year and got more serious in the second and third years. In the final year I got into collage and worked a lot with a photocopier. I didn’t use computers in college but there were a couple of people beginning to use Photoshop for their graphic design. After that I spent a few years doing henna tattoos, painting murals and travelling. In 2006 I started making this stuff. You began by selling your work at a market… It was at the Sunday Up Market in Brick Lane, held inside the old Truman Brewery. I still sell work there now but have a mate of mine run the stall. It’s really good to be able to go down there, chat to people and have that face to face interaction going on. I sold the work myself down there for years and really enjoyed forming some good friendships with people. I also do the Other Art Fair twice a year, again with a couple of people helping sell my work. Destroy What would you say is the biggest threat to art today? Probably commercialisation and the commercial market forces, in lots of different ways. We’re so bombarded with imagery and advertising. There is so much to look at; we’ve reached a point of information overload. People don’t necessarily spend time looking at art or engaging with it in the way I think is really beneficial. That speed and overload that we get is one part of that commercialisation but I also think appropriation by market forces is one of the biggest threats to art. I’m not sure where my line is on it all.  As soon as someone does something interesting, whether it’s music or art, the advertisers move in and use that artistic output to flog things we don’t need with huge sums of money involved. I really respect The Beastie Boys for their standpoint on their music being used for commercial gains and chasing people down who tried to exploit their intention. When would you say you are happiest and most content regarding your art? I think throughout really. The beginning of making a picture is really exciting, when I’m getting the ideas together. There’s a point during the process where it can often get a bit difficult or it just goes through straight away and that’s wonderful. There’s a point where a picture clicks into place, I realise what it is and then it’s just a case of finessing it. The pictures are never really complete or finished, I just have to stop at some point and send it to the printer. I like putting lots of detail in my work to be found by people who look at it for a long time. Destroy You’ve gained a lot of attention for the Royal Blood album cover, do you listen to music while you work?  I do, pretty much all the time. It’s been a lot of Bjork recently. She’s amazing and a huge inspiration for me. Just the freedom of her creativity is astonishing. I’ve seen her live 3 times and always come away charged up. She is constantly moving on and changing what she’s doing, I love her. There’s also another guy called Loscil who does really nice minimal electronica. He makes deep and hypnotic ambient stuff; he’s a big favourite. A guy called Krishna Das who makes call and response Kirtan music. Always Phillip Glass. I listen to some noisy music occasionally as well, like Slayer but not so much while I’m working. Destroy How long does a piece take you to complete? The ones I’m doing now have been on the boil for about a year but it really depends. Sometimes I can go and make a picture in a few days but other times it can be a year, with them fizzing around until the right time to put them out. Some of the very early stuff I made in a matter of hours but they were a lot simpler back then. I take my time with it more now. Destroy Finally describe for us an average day in the life of Dan Hillier… There isn’t an average one, but on a good day probably getting up at about 6, meditating for 45 minutes, going to yoga, having some breakfast, starting work by 9, working for a few hours then having lunch, and after that just keep on going until about 5 or 6. But really I don’t have an average day, it just changes all the time. What I’m trying to do now is set the scene so I can have those perfect working days where I get up early, do my morning stuff then spend the entire day working with music on, getting stuck into it with out all the other distractions. artzine your guide to everything that's happening in the art world   View all Dan Hilier prints Read our Dan Hillier biography image credits: nme, $test =
  • INSA Introduces 'GIF-iti' to the Web

    London based Graffiti veteran ....
    London based Graffiti veteran $test =
  • Chris Kettle: Artist Interview

    Brighton painter Chris Kettle has been on a twenty-year quest exploring the genre of Still Life in his own unique, rebellious fashion. We've just got some fantastic original works in from the artist along side his exquisite new print edition so we thought it was prime time for a catch up wit....
    Brighton painter Chris Kettle has been on a twenty-year quest exploring the genre of Still Life in his own unique, rebellious fashion. We've just got some fantastic original works in from the artist along side his exquisite new print edition so we thought it was prime time for a catch up with Chris in his Hove based studio. You are a painter of New Still Life which is a modern departure from traditional Still Life painting. How did this style of painting and genre develop for you? I started doing portraits a long time ago at college, probably twenty years ago, and I absolutely loved doing them. I didn't get bored of it but I knew there was some other challenge in there for me. I found people accepted portraits quite easily and at the time I just wanted to move onto something more challenging. Objects were harder to make and draw any essence or emotional quality out of and probably in some masochistic way I went for something that didn't sell as easily. At college you can do that, that's the time you can pick something and give it a go. I couldn't really leave it.  It is about that personal challenge of trying to give something a soul and spirit that is inanimate and I'm still on that particular train now. With New Still Life I tried to draw people's attention to the fact that it was Still Life painting, it had that tradition behind it yet it wasn't like anything else people had seen before. Were there any particular artists you encountered at college that informed this approach?  I think I just absorbed what the installation and performance guys were doing. At Cardiff they were massive on really progressive installation art, much of it inspired by Damien Hirst and really weren't into painting. You had to fight a bit to keep up with them and be seen. I thought I would just start painting little installations; that's where it all began. I did a painting called Fruit and Contraception, it was a small formal set up of fruit floating in a tank with condoms underneath. It was humorous more than anything, but in still life terms that would have been shocking. Twenty years ago people weren't really addressing Still Life but now it's a lot more widely accepted. What kind of source material do you use for your paintings? At the moment I've been setting up hanging fruit and taking photos of that, same with the flowers. I use a really powerful light so it's quite dramatic. I also scour the Internet for images of silver and do a kind of magpie search for it. Sometime I'll buy a piece of silverware to paint but it can get a bit expensive that way. Other times I'll paint from life using leaves I've found. Destroy A number of your Still Lives inhabit a very modern looking environment. Your ‘Terrarium’ series have an almost sinister feeling with a really sense of tension. What is the intention for this?  That sinister edge is really important. I guess my aim is to make an impression, to jar and question people’s idea of Still Life. It’s important to break out of that nice, Sunday painterly tradition and the only way to do that is with an uneasy feeling. People are more comfortable when there’s a figure, a reference point. I like to make people equally comfortable and uncomfortable so that there is that paradox. There are questions in the paintings that I’m asking and not giving any answers, just opening it up and providing this slightly odd atmosphere. With the ‘Terrarium’ series the room and the background are flat blocks of colour and the punchy bit is the flower installation. I wanted there to be this reverential, precious kind of punch in the middle of the painting. It’s a world within a world. There is also a little battle going on regarding what era or time it’s set. As soon as I painted the piece I put it in the National Open and it did well. I came in the top three overall, which I was really pleased with. Destroy Your new print ‘Bacchanalia II’ has just been released at artrepublic tell us more about that piece… It’s been developing over years, I’ve had a set up where I’ve suspended grapes over these silverware receptacles. There’s this strange relationship between the two elements. It fits in with Still Life but you generally don’t have things hovering, there are also metaphorically questions being asked. It’s quite sumptuous, linking to things like Bacchus and ideas of excess. I’m trying to present an image that feels right for today. I wanted do an aesthetically beautiful version of a kind of decay, but one that remands upbeat yet ambiguous. Destroy Where did you grow up and were you creative as a child? I grew up in just outside of Oxford in a little village. I certainly got into drawing just by being bored as a child in my bedroom. My mum was a piano teacher so she swapped music lessons for art lessons for me at Radley College. I didn’t attend the college but I got access to all of the equipment. I always did well at art at school. My mum used to make me sit down for an hour everyday during school holidays to do drawings and things. The discipline really came in during my degree. I wanted to really live life so I had some experiences to draw upon in my work. Destroy Do you work on multiple paintings at once or focus on one at a time? Mostly one at a time but now it’s definitely changing. I’m doing a bit on a study, a bit on a big piece, so now it has changed to multiple painting simultaneously, especially if I have a show coming up. Which of your works would you say you are most proud of? I've done four in the Terrarium series, which I'm really please with. Definitely the Bacchanalia paintings and the new print as well. I've been waiting for the exactly right piece to make into an edition. I think that one works on lots of different layers. Which artists living or dead do you admire?  I've been through phases where I've liked different artists at the time who have informed me, and then I seem to move on having carried their influence. At the moment I really like a guy called Nicola Samori who does modern renaissance stuff. Another artist is Neo Rauch; he just creates his own world, which you enter then step back out of. There's no question or compromise in his work. When are you happiest? I'm pretty happy when I'm actually painting and it's going well. There are fleeting moments of happiness but they don't really last. As soon as I've done a painting the next has to be better. I don't get a lot of moments of satisfaction but I think that's the age-old thing that keeps you developing. How long does it take you to complete a painting? If I concentrate on them I can finish one in a couple of weeks but recently I’ve been doing a stage, letting them dry and going back to them. Some of them then can take a month or more by experimenting with layers of paint. Finally can you describe an average day in the live of Chris Kettle… Up early, get my daughter to school, get on my bike, blast to the studio, paint as long as I can, then back home. Over the past few years I've been doing fasting two days a week. If I'm painting on a fast day I'll be super aware. It's another challenge but it forces you to really focus on what you're doing and times flies. $test =

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