Name: Simon Kirk
Known for: Collage and Mixed Media/Painting.
Currently working with: Turner | Barnes | Gallery.
When did you realize that you were going to work with this:
I’ve always wanted to be an artist, as far back as I can remember it has always been a perfect fit for me.
If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
Denmark. According to the World Happiness Report commissioned for a United Nations conference on happiness, Denmark is the happiest country in the world. And I love it there.
How would you describe your design:
A marriage of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art – a synergy of poetry, drawing and painting, which marries text and image, abstraction and figuration in a rough, emotional way using vivid colours.
How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
While living in London trying to pursue my art career I found that working to pay the high rents left little time to paint. It was only when I moved back to my hometown of Leigh on Sea (about 30 miles outside of London) that I really had the opportunity to start my career. That was about 7 years ago.
What do you do at the moment?
I’m drawing inspiration from the work of Jean Dubuffet and his meticulous cityscapes, and also another outsider artist Howard Finster (famous for his Talking Heads album covers). There’s a nice harmony of text and image in his work which I want to explore. The piece ‘Switch’ I did last year, which you can view on my website gallery, will give you an idea of the direction I’m taking.
A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Building up a good network of contacts is necessary and takes time but as your reputation grows, you get more opportunities. Often it can be a case of being in the right place at the right time so to speak. I compare being an artist with starting a small business. It’s not enough just to do the work; you need to promote the work too. And you need to be able to budget effectively – materials, cost of travelling to shows/delivering work, entering competitions to raise your profile etc., all need to be considered.
Tell us how it all started.
I was an only child so I had plenty of time to myself, and I’d spend it drawing. I remember watching the Tarzan Lord of the Jungle cartoon then spending hours practicing drawing noses and hands, those things I could see from my own drawings that I wasn’t very good at. So when I started school, I was recognised as having a talent and that was extremely pleasing to me. The ‘hard work’ was paying off! I decided then I wanted to be an artist and that never changed.
What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
A big sturdy workbench, good lighting, storage space… For collage artists, I also recommend a hairdryer so waiting for glue to dry doesn’t slow you down.
What is your favorite film?
I have many favourites. I’m a big fan of films, but I have a special affection for 80’s B movies.
Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
Probably 80’s B movie actor Robert Englund (famous for playing Freddy Krueger). So much creativity went into producing films before CGI. A lot of charm and ingenuity has been lost, I think.
How do you like to spoil yourself?
I buy DVDs!
What is luxury for you?
Spending time in Denmark.
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your design, and from whom?
I recently sold a large and expensive piece within 20 minutes of posting it online. The fact that someone instantly connected with the work was incredibly gratifying.
What do you fear most?
I’m not a massive fan of flying.
What is a happy life to you?
To continue to have the freedom to create.
What does a regular day look like for you?
I normally spend the morning uploading work to social media, responding to emails etc. If I have sold work I package and send it off. The morning is my promotional time. Then in the afternoon I will go into the studio and work, often until late at night. I may have time for a nap in between.
Tell us about your dream project.
I’d like to have a bigger studio space to create very large work.
Who is your favorite artist?
If I had to pick one, it would have to be Picasso. It’s possibly a boring answer but he produced so much work across so many different styles and mediums; he’s almost taken for granted. My favourite quote from him: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”.
Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
What inspires you?
I always look to the work of Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, Paul Klee and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I love the work of William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski – both have a very dry dark humour to them that appeals to me. Films inspire me – I’m drawn to films that don’t have a linear plot, like David Lynch films for example. You recognise all the scenarios, you can understand the language and you almost know what’s going on, but not quite – It’s open to interpretation.
A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
A good question, and difficult to answer. I’ll probably go for ‘Cities of the Red Night’ by William Burroughs. It’s not my favourite book, but it was the where I discovered the cut-up technique.