Today we chat to Joe Fenton who is a London based artist that works mainly in monochrome. His surrealist inspired works are capturing and inspiring to say the least.
For those don’t know Joe Fenton, please tell us who are you, what do you do and why you do it?
I am a London based artist that works mainly in monochrome. My large drawings are produced using graphite, ink and acrylics on paper. My drawings incorporate an organic weave of reality, fantasy and mythology. My drawings
You have a unique style of illustration, how would you define it?
I don’t really consider myself to be an illustrator. I have never really been an illustrator. Yes, I did a couple of children’s books earlier in my career but these where written and illustrated by me. My personal work moves into a different arena from that of illustration. The size of my work puts them into a different category all together. What that is I’m not quite sure.
What tools do you use to create your work and how long do usually spend on one piece ?
A. I tend to work mainly in graphite using a mechanical pencil as I need to a fine tip to create the desired effect. With paper I try and find the largest rolls possible, my favorite paper is Arches watercolor paper but I will use other brands as well. And finally an electric eraser can come in handy when erasing fine details. Because of the scale of my work. My images are not quick to produce. ‘Solitude’ My largest work to date. Took me about ten months to complete. Some of my other pieces have taken me from one month to several months.
How do you bring your ideas to life?
The whole process of creating my art is so organic that it is difficult to give you an answer. I have an overall concept before I start a piece but this often changes as I progress. I build each of my works like a sculpture by adding and subtracting elements until I am happy with the overall design.
Who inspires you ?
I first discovered the works of Hieronymus Bosch and other artists such as Pieter Bruegel from the northern renaissance period when I was at art school. The seven deadly sins are prominent in much of their work. I loved the way they would use such expansive landscapes filled with so many details to present us with the depiction of mans folly along with the consequences of their actions. Their art was created to teach specific moral and spiritual truths. You will see this subject matter occurring throughout most of my work. I would also like to mention that my work is very much influenced by many early black and white engravings and prints dating back as far as 1450 to the present day.. By artists such as Durer, Versalius and Dore’s magnificent illustrations of Dante’s inferno and Paradise lost. One theme in all these works which recurs again and again is that of death and of the fear of death. The artists constantly reminded us how precarious was the life of our ancestors and how obsessed they were with their own mortality. The fanciful and even freakish nature of these images seem to spring from the need to distance fear, while at the same time acknowledge it.
What advise would you give young South African creatives looking to do what you do?
Technique is important but it’s not everything. There are many technically brilliant artists out there, but what is most important is your imagination. Your ideas combined with a unique style are what will draw people in. Be original, don’t imitate everything else that is out there. It’s life experiences good and bad which will directly impact your work. Keep changing and evolving as an artist , don’t keep churning out the same thing easier said than done I know! Working outside one’s comfort zone is the hardest thing to do for most people I know it is for me but when you push yourself you ultimately grow from the experience.
What’s in the future for Joe Fenton?
Ha! That’s the big question for all of us! I just hope to be around for a while longer so I can keep on making art.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a few things at the moment, a triptych titled /The Landing’ where I still have the third and final panel to complete. I am also working on a new idea for a piece so I am going through a mild depression whilst trying to work out an idea thinking at the same time I am never going to achieve it. I’m also trying to use some different mediums and maybe a little color. I am also currently working on a commission for a well know American rock guitarist, I am creating a design for one of his guitars. More shall be revealed soon!
Where can we see more of your work? (please give us your Twitter/ Facebook website/ etc)
Jean Claude van Damme or Steven Seagal ?
The less said the better!