Freelance Artist and Creative Partner at Creative Arts North Staffs
Burslem, Stoke on Trent
Describe yourself in three words…
Covered in paint
Tell us about your background…
I'm originally from Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, and came up to Stoke-on-Trent to study Fine Art at Staffordshire University. After my BA, I went on to study for a Masters. Since I graduated I’ve run music venues, been a DJ and gig promoter and shown my artwork nationally and abroad.
Tell us about what you do!
As a freelance artist I draw - mainly throughout the night so it doesn’t clash with my business, Creative Arts North Staffs. My own artwork involves highly detailed pen and ink drawings that centre around Horror Vacui - which is a compulsion to fill up all of the blank space on a surface. I try to draw every night.
Three years ago I also set up a community arts company called Creative Arts North Staffs which provides arts workshops and mural and graffiti projects. We work a lot with young people to address anti-social behaviour and re-engage young people back into learning new skills and raised aspirations.
What inspired you to launch your own business?
I set Creative Arts North Staffs up nearly three years ago with a good friend of mine. We were both working in jobs we hated and felt our respective qualifications within the arts were being wasted. We had huge experience in running community arts programmes so decided to leave and take the plunge and set up by ourselves. Its been really successful so far and we find ourselves travelling all over - its hard work but its something we feel really makes a difference to the communities we work in.
What’s your proudest moment so far?
Aside from setting up Creative Arts North Staffs and the positive influences the projects have on young people- I’ve been really pleased with securing international exhibitions in Chicago and Poland as well as a show in Manchesters Cornerhouse in July this year.
And your greatest project?
I think all the community arts projects have been great in their own right- there’s really no marker on how good it feels when you seen young people who haven’t done so well in mainstream education develop and go onto better things.
Showing my work internationally this year and breaking into bigger galleries has been something I’ve worked really hard on- developing my practice and finding out that people have a passion for what I do is a brilliant feeling!
Who or what inspires you?
I'm hugely inspired by the Outsider Artists such as Madge Gill and Adolf Wolfli who created intricate worlds through their art without really understanding why they did it. It was more of a compulsion to them as opposed to creating something that was sellable and pleasing to an audience.- that’s not to say im not inspired by aesthetics- the work of Laure Pigeon is unbelievably beautiful.
What do you hope to be doing in five years time?
We’re looking at developing Creative Arts North Staffs and reaching more of England with our projects- eventually taking on young people we’ve worked with to become part of the company. I'm hoping to continue to show my own work internationally and develop long relationships with galleries and people who share the same passion for drawing.
When you aren’t running your creative businesses, you are…?
There's not much time for anything else at the moment! But I enjoy martial arts, going to gigs and graffiti. Ive got a great family and girlfriend who’re really supportive of what I do so big thanks to them!
Anything exciting ongoing or in the pipeline?
Lots! Im showing in Chicago at the moment, and have a group show in Poland next month. Im also doing solo shows in Poland and the Cornerhouse Manchester which I’m really excited about. PHEW!
I’ve also done an album cover for a band called Ox Scapula that will be in the shops soon, theyre signed to Gringo Records which I love. Finally, keep your eyes out for Pretty Vacant - an Arts Council funded project using empty shop windows in Stoke Town with my good friend Darren Washington!