It is my great pleasure to present this interview with Australian artist, Paul White.
Paul is one of Australia's most gifted and talented emerging artists. Already having a feature on Artist spotlight section, I uncovered more about Paul in our interview. We talked more about his work, creative process,exhibition shows, plus more. Enjoy!
Can you please tell readers a bit about yourself.
I was born in Sydney, Australia in 1976. I grew up in the suburbs where bmx, skateboards and later cars co-existed with a passion for art and making things in general.
Several years after I completed my undergraduate degree in art I gained a scholarship which enabled me to live in Los Angeles for 2 years during which time I completed my postgraduate art degree. This time and place continues to influence my practice, particularly in terms of the images I am drawn to.
What was your starting point as an artist.
I have been drawing and making stuff longer than I can remember. The logical progression was from school to art school to exhibiting artist. I began exhibiting in galleries around 1997.
Artistically how have your grown, how different is it now compared to when you started.
I feel like the work I have been doing recently has in a way come full circle from the drawings i did as a kid, albeit with obviously a huge advance in the technical and conceptual framework of it.
When i look back at drawings i did at say age 5 or 6 it is all cars, motorbikes, ghost towns etc etc. The work I made in the early phases of my career shifted quite dramatically from one body of work to the next in terms of materials. Around 2005 I stripped it all back and decided to start working purely with coloured pencil on paper.
I have refined this process substantially over the last few years.
What inspired your or motivated you to kick-start the wasteland project and what did you try to communicate through the project.
The imagery in the Wasteland Wanderlust project (stripped down and retired commercial and military planes, graffitied box car carriages and rv's) I was somewhat familiar with from my time living in Los Angeles and travelling throughout the surrounding deserts or 'badlands' into Nevada, Arizona etc etc. It seemed like the logical progression considering my previous project which focused on cars in wrecking yards and graffitied delivery vans. My interest in abandoned or obsolete objects goes firstly back to childhood moments in wrecking yards. I was and still am fascinated by the stillness in time in these locations. Secondly a visit to 'Bodie' ghost town in California re-sparked my interest in this mood and concept, in the idea of a once thriving place (or object) that was abandoned when it was no longer viable. I have long been interested in 'end of the world' movies too, where civilisation is either wiped out or on the brink of destruction. I like the idea of freezing time in a world that is so fast. My drawings which are very time consuming create a mediative space and in a way slow down time as well. I am interested in how these objects after an active life, return to the earth and how this represents the cycle of creation, obsolescence, death and regrowth. For this project i did a planned out trip around California and Arizona taking photos the whole time.
You mentioned in your documentary video your passion for cars and planes since childhood, working on this project did it give you a different perspective on your passion for them?
I guess in a way by presenting this imagery in an exhausted state I am perhaps acknowledging that whilst still passionate about these things, this time of boyhood dreaming is long behind me. I do consider that the composition of a car or plane for that matter can potentially form a object that can be the ultimate art object. Seeing a wrecking yard such as one i visited in Phoenix Arizona that was full of around 5000 pre 1980's cars reminded me how exciting car design was in the 50's/60's/70's. As well as being an object of desire the vehicle is fundamental to the post industrial world and in movement throughout it.
Obviously your drawings are very detail oriented and clean, how is the creative process like.
My process is almost like surgery and since it is slow, everything is laid out and ordered in the most efficient manner on a massive slanted table that accommodates drawings over 2 metres across. I have refined the process and layout over the last few years to the point that my workspace is like an extension of my limbs. The first step is to locate the subject and photograph it, i have a large database of images. I like to almost exclusively work with images that I have captured myself. Once selected i get a rough outline of the image then fill the image in by working from the laptop screen as reference, which allows me to zoom in to capture the extreme and obsessive detail I relish in. Since my drawings have plenty of empty or negative space in them i keep most of the surface covered during the process to keep everything clean.It is always a surprise once finished a drawing to unveil it and see it as a whole for the first time. I am interested in seeing how far i can take my technique using just pencils and paper.
What is the most important factor to you when working on a project.
I am drawn to work that is both technically and conceptually interesting, so I strive to undertake that in my own work, whatever the project is.
On a technical level i am a perfectionist and will not give up on something until i am satisfied with it.
What made you decide to do an exhibition and how is that experience?
As important as making the work is sharing it with an audience. It is always a thrill to get new work out there and to see what reaction it receives.
So far, have you had any reaction or feedback from people that have seen your work, that has sparked your interest or attention?
The work has been getting good feedback, both in flesh and in the online world. The works incidentally look much better and actually softer in the flesh. I think viewers appreciate the technical prowess along with an interest in the story behind the imagery, ie where the images are from and what they are all about.
Where is your perfect working space/station and what is your working mode like?
I work from home, and am most productive at night, due in part to the fact that my 2 small daughters are asleep. Since the work is time consuming to produce I try to put in big hours to get the works done. I always work with music on, or more recently listening to podcasts. All i really need are my big table and some headphones and i'm happy
Favorite spot in Sydney.
Growing up in the suburbs with an interest in cars, some of my favourite moments were probably spent on empty backroads just driving, or late nights with a couple of hot cars in tow.
Sydney beaches of course are renowned too.
What else are you passionate about besides art,cars and planes.
My 3 girls, music, also collecting stuff, which in recent times has involved the collection of the by products of my art practice - i have bags of pencil shavings, used sharpeners and all the pencils which are too short to use anymore. i have built up over time a collection of magazines, model cars, other miscellaneous toys and of course artworks. Also bits and pieces particularly form the 1970's like lamps, furniture etc. I am interested in objects that were made around the era i was born, i have a 1974 Holden Torana V8, one of the archetypal Australian muscle cars.
In your opinion how will you define creativity.
My definition of creativity is very broad, in fact i would argue most activities are in a way be 'creative'.
What do you like most about what you do.
The process and satisfaction of conceptualising and creating an object and sharing that with the world.
Any current projects you are working on that you would like to share.