How did you discover your talent for art?
I've always doodled, cut and pasted, and my obsession with found objects dates back to the late sixties - as a small child my pockets were always bulging with department store clothes tags that I religiously picked up off the floor. I had a pretty well-developed colour sense as a child too - I have a form of synaesthesia, so colours and shapes have different flavours to me.
But, although I could doodle, I never received any encouragement from my various schools. Unless you could do picture perfect reproductions in pencil and paint, you were not an "artist". So I only really started doing art seriously about five years ago after careers in web design and journalism.
What or who inspired you to paint/draw in the first place?
My father painted the most beautiful ladies' faces in watercolours, and some of my happiest memories are of watching him. In terms of collages, I've always been a huge Dada fan, coupled with being a teenager in the cut and paste punk era! But the one person who gave me the courage to actually pursue art seriously and believe in my abilities was SuziBlu - I owe a huge thanks to her for that.
What do you think is the most important influence in your art?
Urban decay and a sense of humour - I love the way that cities decay. Rust and concrete and verdigris are beautiful to me and I love the way posters tear and turn into shapes and textures. I've always been a city girl - to me cities have their own beauty and elegance. Humour is also really important - from the nonsense of Dada collage to the "wham!" of Pop Art. I think that I absorbed a lot more of the artistic sensibilities of the sixties than I realise.
Where do you do your work?
At the moment I work at home, on the floor. I'm currently looking into studio space. I've had one too many incidents of my cat leaving acrylic paw prints all over the floor. ;)
No 15 Silence by Georgina Ragazza
Do you work from life, from photographs or from imagination?
Definitely imagination - I have a sensibility of "what if" about my work. "What if Marilyn Monroe had a clock for a head?" "What if this building was made out of rusty bottle caps?" Having said that, the colours of the urban landscape continue to knock me out. I think that, without exaggeration, everything I look at has the potential to get my artistic juices flowing really.
What are you currently working on?
I have two cafe exhibitions coming up at the end of this year and I'm taking part in the Brighon Christmas Art Trail in November. I'm doing a series of large canvasses for the two cafes, which combine digital shots of the city with collage, acrylic and found objects.
I'm doing 30 small canvasses for the art trail, which are heavily collage based. I might fit some sleep in before Christmas ;)
Do you have any new projects planned?
I'm seriously looking into setting up an Etsy account and producing more of the smaller collage canvasses, and also branching out into art prints of my work.
Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
Everything I do is a journey. I start out with a very rough idea of what I want to achieve but I try and let the project show its direction to me, rather than the other way around. So, to me the execution of a piece of artwork is the exciting part - I like seeing where it's taking me, and what I'm going to learn about myself and the world around me by the end of it.
What techniques do you use?
I use a lot of collage and I try and go for as much texture and variation as possible when I use acrylics, so foil, string, modelling paste, ink overlays, salt, bleach, surgical spirit. Anything that adds a certain something to the finished piece and gives a depth of layers.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
I love working with acrylics, gesso, chalk pastels, glue and rusty things. Art is very cathartic and therapeutic for me, so I tend to work in a concentrated rush, rather than in a measured or methodical way. All the materials I use have to aid that speed and that sense of purging. The one time I tried working wth oil paints drove me completely to distraction. If something isn't dry in under ten minutes, I lose the impetus and give up, which leaves me very frustrated indeed!
Do you concentrate mostly on content or technique in your work?
A bit of both really - I'm trying to say something or explore something, but at the same time I'm trying to utilise the materials to create something that's pleasing to the eye. Mostly, I just like getting my hands dirty. ;)
Untitled Four by Georgina Ragazza
Do you work certain hours each day or only when you are inspired?
I wish I could say that I have a routine and that I'm highly disciplined, but I'm not. Creating art feels like running to me - there's a moment of calm as I process everything in my head, I step up to the blocks with the materials, and then the gun goes off and I dash for the finishing line. I'm usually exhausted by the end of it. That's part of the catharsis - I *have* to get this out of me and onto the canvas.
Where do you feel your art is going?
My art seems to be getting physically bigger. I started off doing ATCs and working in a pocket Moleskine, and gradually I've gone on to larger canvasses and then multiple ones. I think that I have aspirations to be the next Lichtenstein and make monster-sized triptychs!
What do you think the role of the artist is in society and do you think that role is changing with the advances of technology?
I think that artists exist to show things that are not necessarily visible to everyone. There's the idea that artists have an "acrostic eye", leaving little clues and messages in the body of work for everyone else. It's aslo nice to have someone around who makes the place look a bit prettier! I think that technology has given more people an outlet to create and that's a good thing. Also, the amount of social networking sites like deviantART make artists and potential artists feel less isolated.
Do you prefer a perfect smooth technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?
Definitely expressive! I have to purge at all times. :) I believe that art reflects life and emotions - neither of which are perfect or smooth!
What is your favourite period in art history?
Somewhere between 1955 and 1965. There was such a massive explosion of experimentation in that period which continues to excite and inspire me. I admire the fearlessness as well and the sense of "why not?" All artists should be fearless and full of "why not?" Most of us are highly neurotic though. ;)
Who are your favourite artists?
Ralph Steadman - I love the scratch and cynicism behind his ink.
Salvador Dali - his use of electricity as a light source is truly astounding.
Jasper Johns - if I could do one piece of artwork that came anywhere close to him I would be happy.
Picasso - I have tried, and failed, to reproduce one of his collages as an exercise. That's genius to me.
Peter Max - pyschedelic excess witha graphic artist's sensibility. There's millions more...
What is your favourite painting/piece of art and why?
Jasper Johns, "Three Flags". Every time it comes up at auction, I cry, knowing I'll never be able to afford it. It's so deceptively simple and so brilliantly complex at the same time. I love the clouds of encaustic, and the bold expressive strokes, and those delicious colours. The repetition sounds like "bang! bang! bang!" to me. My birthday's in June, in case anyone is feeling generous!
How do your market and promote your work?
I hate the marketing side of the business... I'm very shy, and like most artists, utterly scatterbrained, so I have to really concentrate hard on the grown-up stuff. I have a blog, a Twitter, a Facebook fan page (I hate that term), a LinkedIn account and a ream of business cards. I always print a new set of cards for each new series of paintings, so that my information is fresh and interesting. It might even become collectable, you never know. ;)
Have you held any exhibitions?
So far I've exhibited in art cafes with aspirations to move on to galleries when I'm better established. Or have blackmail material.
Do you use any online services like ‘imagekind.com’, ‘redbubble’ or ‘cafepress’?
Nope - I am looking into Etsy tho. To be honest, I'd never heard of redbubble - I'll do that now!
Do you think the internet has changed people’s appreciation of art by making it more accessible?
Possibly - I don't really know. I think that the Internet has made art easier to put in front of people, and easier for other artists to connect. Whether that's made people appreciate it more is another thing entirely... I've noticed more affordable art schemes tho, which can only be a good thing.
What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to take up painting or drawing?
Do it right now and don't let anyone tell you that you can't. In 1971 someone told me I "couldn't draw" and it took me three decades to get to the point of being myself and doing what I wanted to do in the first place.
Thank you for interviewing me!
Most Wins by Georgina Ragazza