Today's spotlight is on the artist Gary Russell. In this guest post, Gary introduces us to his studio and lets us explore his creative space...
In the studio with Gary Russell
I work from my room a lot of the time, my pieces tend to be quite dark and fantastical so I like the contrast of that coming from a comfortable, small and domestic environment. I tend to come up with ideas quite quickly too and work in a spontaneous manner so it's good to have everything right there if inspiration strikes.
I work mainly with paper, often using photocopies of previous works I've made. Toward the end of uni I was constantly photocopying to the point where I think I was slightly OCD, it was like I had to document everything! When I finished uni I didn't produce any work for about 3 years but for some reasons I still kept this massive box of old photocopies and just didn't want to throw it away. About a year ago I had a break down and got diagnosed with major depression, I wanted to start making art again, as a means to cope, and I realised I still had this box of photocopies, so I started with it. I still use it now, I really love the tones you get with photocopies and I'm still finding little bits of interesting paper from projects I've made in my third year (which was about 6 years ago now!)
Music plays a big part in my work and depending on what sort of piece I want to create I'll put on a particular album to suite the mood. Artists I tend to listen to the most are Bjork, The Knife, Kate Bush and Zola Jesus. I have this thing called synesthesia, really strong, it's a condition where you see shapes and colours when you listen to music, or hear words.
I have a lot of books, mainly art books, but lots of novels too. Of course I like sci-fi fantasy and horror but I also have a lot of classic novels. I've drawn inspiration in the past from books like Dracula and Frankenstein. I put a lot of my own work up as a source of visual inspiration, I think it's better to (visually) be influenced by yourself than other people.
Finally my bed plays an important part in my work, every night I have these really vivid, sometimes lucid, dreams which I always remember quite clear. They tend to be extremely bizarre and, for the most part, don't make a great deal of sense. I tend not to have nightmares but the dreams I do are very very strange. I like to think of my dream world (which I actually once created a map for) as an alternative reality that I travel to at night that is as real, and valid, as this one. Sometimes I wonder if the pieces I create are messages from this other world, I think a lot of artwork is created in this way. Each piece is a code and it's up to the individual viewer to decipher what it means.