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Culture: 5 questions with Gavin Dobson

Posted on March 01 2017


Gavin Dobson is a London based artist and illustrator, whose work is inspired by his love of Graphic Novels and American comic books of the 1980’s.


We met with Gavin to discuss his views on culture and the future for his work.

1 - What does culture mean to you? 


Everything is culture. Culture to me is both humanities history and future. It's everything which has shaped us not only in arts but also in science as the two are always mutually evolving and shaping each other. It's how we think. How we communicate. How we perceive things and also the tool in which we influence everything around us. 

Culture is the vast umbrella of Arts/Sciences/Beliefs/History/Social Movements and positioning and all of those parts create infinite variations for every person which is probably why everyone has a truly different experience of life.

Culture is in a sense what appears to separate us from the rest of the animal world. But even then....who knows.



2 - How seminal/influencial/important do you think art is to society/culture?


To me art is a key element mainly because current art translates onto canvas or music or literature (whatever field you choose) a moment in time. It stamps it and tells a story. A story which is 'read' by everybody differently because of their own influences of past cultures and indeed past pieces of art. So culture in the arts is many millions of stories which tells us, about the period, about the artist, the viewers, society. It's also worth noting that often things which haven't been recorded in art are thought of as myths until an archeologist finds some art and it becomes fact.

Art influences things. It explains things. It contradicts things. It can be political or whimsical. It can cheer you up or it can confuse you. It can seem daring or provocative and then old fashioned and irrelevant. All of these characteristics actually explore society then and now...it opens up the conversation to why and how and forces us to gain knowledge.

Society itself is just a sum of history and it's experiences. Art notes them down and opens up the discussion of those events and society can deem them good or bad. So it's all a melting pot to me.


 3 - Do you create to live or live to create?


Both. I can't imagine not doing art but I would be lying if I said I didn't do it also for the financial reward if a painting sells. It would be lovely to purely do art for arts sake though.



 4 - Tell us about your practise - how and where do you create your work?


Depending on the brief and end results the venue changes. If it's illustrations I tend to do those at home in a work area I have set up. For large canvases and 'messier' work I have a studio in Hackney Wick and for Printing I am a member of London's Printclub in Dalston where I can make use of all their amazing equipment.

As for how that's quite a tricky question as often an idea will pop into my head at any time and I always carry a few small notebooks or sketchbooks around with me though a lot of my best work seems to have been doodled on napkins or the odd 'borrowed' beermat. Be it a word or a song, a conversation or even a mood I can be influenced in many ways. Sometimes I want to say something - to make a social commentary. It's rare I get very political I would rather present a feeling or a situation, a small element in the bigger picture and let the audience build their own story.



5 - Where is your practise going? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?


I am lucky enough to be kept busy. My current project is a series of Expressive Landscapes which I have been working on in my painting studio. It has been really great to do more painting of late and also due to the nature of these pieces to really get messy and not be too distracted on realism.

The series is called 'Landscapes of the Mind'. I enjoy painting with my emotions and trying to take the viewer into a journey on how I feel in a specific landscape. It touches on ideas of depression and hope. The light and dark which is always present in everyday living. No matter how dark things may be the light is always on it's way.

With these particular paintings it was important to capture this element, to use colour as a device to portray feelings.






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