Kelly Griffin | Tuesday, May 01, 2012
East London art duo Static have been crafting their unique blend of striking and often satirical artwork since 2006. Together, they combining elements of street art and fine art and merge clean graphic style with stencil, spray paint, screen printing and paint brushes with mind-blowing results. With new solo exhibition 'Moments of Clarity' currently on at London's Whisper Gallery, we spoke with the artists Tom and Craig about their successful partnership and eye-catching new work.
How and when did you two meet?
Tom and I met through mutual friends at sixth form college, but it wasn't until we started a foundation art course two years later that we started to spend more time together and bounce ideas off of one another.
Why did you decide to work together, instead of separately?
The foundation art course gave us the opportunity to explore art, design, fashion and photography as well as other areas that we'd never really focused on before and we'd be given group projects as well as solo ones to work on, which really opened our eyes to collaborations and thinking about sharing ideas and suggestions beyond our own personal portfolios. It was something we continued when we went to university and when the opportunity came about for us to start working together, we set up our first studio space in some derelict flats and went from there.
How does your creative partnership work?
When we're starting a new project or developing ideas, we'll usually come up with a few initial ideas on our own and then see how we can merge them together.
We've both got our own individual skill set that means that (if we know what we want the end result to be) things usually go to plan and we're always consulting each other on everything from composition to colour and anything else in between.
It really depends though, because sometimes if it's something we want to do quickly, it might be added to as we go along and neither of us will really have an idea of how the final piece will look... but that's kind of what spurs you on in a way too.
How would you describe your work?
Our work is often referred to as a combination of fine art, with strong graphic elements, and urban art. We've always been interested in the juxtaposition of ideas and techniques in creating pieces that will make people look again or see things in a new way and that's what's been the focus and driving force behind the new work we've created for 'Moments of Clarity'.
Who or what inspires your work?
The short answer is anything and everything... We've got friends who work in various different areas and they're all really talented and inspiring to spend time with. We never set out and said we'd stick to one way of working, there's a continuous interest in exploring new ideas and we're always looking to push ourselves forward from the last idea we've had.
Who are some artists you admire and why?
The list is too long! We've got a lot of respect and admiration for anyone who is creative and finds an outlet and platform to get their work out there. We love it when boundaries are blurred and people combine elements of opposites in new ways and aren't afraid to go outside the lines, but at the same time there's a lot of artists and creatives out there that get it so spot on every time and you just can't ignore their passion and dedication.
You have work in galleries all over the world – in the UK, Dubai, Singapore, Japan and Australia. Assuming you’ve travelled to these places and more, what’s your favourite city or country you’ve visited and why?
We went out to Japan in 2010 and really enjoyed immersing ourselves in the culture and traditions we were exposed to. Tokyo is an amazing city and we spent some time travelling around the country before we returned back to the UK – photos of which you can see on our website in the Japan Tour section. It was amazing to be invited out there and we're looking forward to returning later in the year for more sushi, sashimi and sake!
What was your first art job out of school?
Craig: After university I spent the summer working with a friend who had set up his own web design company and I collaborated with him on a number of projects whilst creating my online portfolio of the work I'd done whilst at Liverpool John Moores. The first paid job I had though came nearly a year after working at a pub in central London, when I was finally offered some freelance work at a small graphic design agency in London Bridge. It could have lasted longer than the four or so weeks I was there, but I wasn't clued up on blagging back then and they took someone else on full time and I headed North to be reunited with Tom.
Tom: I worked in Sunderland for about a year, helping out a friend who was teaching portfolio and mould making at the University of Sunderland in the Ceramics and Glass department. I really enjoyed it but at the time was living back home so the two hour commute was not the best.
Will your solo show 'Moments of Clarity' feature all new work? How long have you been working on it / preparing for the show?
The work we're showing in 'Moments of Clarity' has been roughly 12 months in the making and apart from a couple of pieces that sold last year and one that has been displayed by Whisper as a taster of what's coming, this is the first time any of these pieces have been shown in the UK.
In fact, this show will be the first time that we'll get to see them all in one place, rather than just in threes and fours in the hall outside the studio.
(video of the guys in the studio preparing for the show)
What can we expect to see in terms of direction and subject matter in your new work for the exhibition?
Apart from the limited edition print that will be available from the preview night, everything is on layers of glass and Perspex which we have put together in bespoke frames. These allow us to float the separate layers of the patterns and portraits we have been creating for this collection, which mean the pieces are always changing depending on the position or viewpoint of each individual person. Within the 'Moments of Clarity' collection, we've explored two different themes. The pattern pieces are very structured and precise which is contrary to what most people expect when they hear the term 'spray painted' and then we have created a series of portraits in which we have combined and sampled elements of the pattern pieces, to inject colour and vibrancy between the layers and spaces created in and around the compositions.
What’s one reason you make art?
The thing we like about making art is that the pieces we make go on to become part of other people's lives all around the world and they'll spark conversations and attract the attentions of individuals we'll never meet, but they'll have seen our work and it will have made a difference to their day. Whether for better or worse, we can't say, but hopefully it's more interesting than looking at an empty space...
Static's exhibition 'Moments of Clarity' is now on at Whisper Gallery and is well worth the visit. The exhibition runs until May 26, visit here for more details.
To view available limited edition prints by Static, step this way.