When I was younger, I comfortably slipped into the background in my art classes, as there was always someone more talented, who had bigger ideas, and a lot more confidence in realising them. I loved the process of creating art, so I worked at it, and drew portraits almost constantly in my spare time, until I could see an improvement. I stuck to black and white pencil and charcoal drawings for much too long, even though I admired the boldness of Pop artists. If I was ever asked to experiment with my ideas at school, I would inevitably bring in some newspaper to rip up and draw on because it felt like a compromise. It wasn't until I was at uni and just painting for fun that I really started to think about the newspaper I had been using and to bring in a lot more colour. I have always been interested in typographical artwork. My project at A-Level got me a placement of a few months as Artist in Residence at The Exhibitionist Hotel in South Kensington. This was the first time I had ever really considered the possibility of turning my hobby into a career.
By this time, I was already part-way through an English degree at Exeter University. I had considered an Art Foundation course, but this was a much safer option, and would mean that I could reasonably expect to get a job in marketing, publishing, or administration after I left, though it wasn't what I loved. I then went on to do a Creative Writing Masters, because I wanted to learn the secrets behind creating the texts I had spent so many years reading. It never felt like a compromise at the time, and I definitely don't regret it; I did, and still do, really enjoy the analytical side of writing and reading. Now, however, this interest has been transferred into my artwork too.
A lot of my inspiration comes from the stories that can be created just by placing certain newspaper and magazine clippings on or beside the faces of iconic figures, and seeing how by choosing different articles, I can momentarily change the cultural lens through which the person is seen, or at least the narrative through which a viewer might look at my painting. Drawing out the meaning behind a specific piece of writing in a Postmodern, Post-structuralist, or Renaissance (Etc.) novel or poem is just the same process as finding the meaning behind a certain article that's been used to cover the face of Marilyn Monroe. Except, with my artwork, I now get to create the meaning, not just find it.