On the occasion of his new collaboration with Brainbox Candy, I sit down with artist David Shrigley and talk about art, freedom and Warhol. Also, I present some of my favourite artworks. The interview with David is a dream come true and I have previously expressed how fond I am of his work (recently also for the new book of Hans Ulrich Obrist).
David, what does freedom mean when it comes to art?
For me it means the freedom not to have to have a job. I can go to my studio everyday and do what I like. That’s freedom.
What comes first in your work, your drawings or the accompanied text?
Mostly the drawings come first but I often start with a written list of things to draw. So in a way text comes first but that text isn’t usually that that ends up on the drawing.
Are you an optimist in real life? Is your art and being in solitude creating new work a “personal healing, a shield or hope mechanism”?
I try to be positive but perhaps that isn’t the same as being an optimist. I believe in hope but I’m not always hopeful. I think my art is cathartic for me; I think it’s a healthy thing to do.
What do you think of Andy Warhol, is there anything in his work or philosophy which you find particularly interesting?
Andy Warhol is one of my favourite artists alongside Marcel Duchamp. These two are the greatest conceptual artists in my opinion. They taught me that art can be made from anything and everything and nothing.
What do you think of digital art / digital drawing (tablet). Is this a medium you (would) use?
I tend to draw on paper. When the drawings are reproduced they become digital, I guess but that’s just a means to an end. I don’t have anything against digital art but paper art is more satisfying as an object.
This year DESTE’s Project Space on Hydra island will feature an exhibition by you. What are you planning to show and how does the site relate to your work?
I’m making a short documentary film about goats whose cries sound like those of human beings. It is amusing to behold goats making these sounds and it is intended to be a funny film. But the project space is in an old slaughterhouse that still has remnants of its former life; meathooks hanging on the walls, etc. Slaughterhouses are not funny places. Particularly if you are a vegetarian (like me) or a goat. The contradiction between the comedy of the film and the history of the space is the motivation behind the artwork.
In regard to working with brands, institutions and organisations: where does fine art stop and advertising start? What factors have you taken into account as a fine artist while working with brands (so not to deflate image, value), what are your main takeaways and what would you advise other (young) artists to take note of? How has is been working with Brainbox so far?
Advertising is a means to an end. I don’t see the work I have done in advertising as being art as such; I just see it as a creative project that I was involved in. Sometimes brands use my work to sell their products which is perhaps different; the work in this case can retain its status as art (I think).
What advice would I give young artists in this regard?
Make sure you get paid and that you enjoy the process. If you can learn from it then it is a useful experience even if all you learn is that you don’t want to do it again.
Making greetings cards is fun for me but I don’t think it necessarily works for all artists. Because my work is so graphic the message isn’t really compromised by being on a greetings card. But putting a Monet painting on a greetings card is perhaps a different matter…
Here are some of my favourite cards from the collaboration.
More info on the collaboration & details on Brainbox Candy.
DAVID SHRIGLEY: LAUGHTERHOUSE. DESTE FOUNDATION PROJECT SPACE, SLAUGHTERHOUSE, HYDRA 19.6-30.9/2018.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. stay tuned while I share and report more on my favourite Shrigley works during the year. ❤