Interview with talented artist James Green aka 'The Artful Green' with Oliver Norris
Come and meet the artist James Green at the New Artist Fair's 'Summer Exhibition' 13-15 September 2019
What is your background and where are you from?
I'm from a funky little town in the Cotswolds called Stroud. It's a real diverse community - which I love - and probably feeds into my work more than I think. I've moved around a bit (from Sydney to London) and am now firmly rooted back home. Since moving back a couple of years ago, my work has progressed significantly.
Art’s been part of my life since day one and it’s the only thing I’ve ever been able to/wanted to stick with. I’ve had more than my fair share of jobs along the way and am just thankful that I was able to find my ‘thing’ fairly early on!
How did your other names come about, Royal (upside down) and The Artful Green?
You can thank my parents for that! Given the most common name out there, I came up with The Artful Green initially to help my discoverability online - and to separate me from the other James Green artist's (I don't want their work to be mistaken for mine and visa versa). And upside down Royal is a new organic addition... It kept appearing in my work over a period of time and I grew fond of it. I wonder if it may have came as a nod to Royal Mail and a former job as a Postman - which helped massively in my journey to becoming a full time artist. It was the only ‘proper job’ that I’ve ever actually liked!
How do you classify your work?
I guess if I wanted to box it into something, I’d call it contemporary expressionism. However I like defying categorization. No one art form ever got me more than the others. I just have to create - and allow that to manifest however it comes naturally. I’ve recently started creating sculptures which wasn’t really a planned thing. It all depends what excites me at the time. I believe that a true artist shouldn’t limit themselves to one art form/process/technique/etc.
What challenges have you faced in the art world?
The only real challenge I faced trying to enter the art world in the early days was money - so it’s no wonder that folds into the ideas in my work now as a subject. Unless you have rich parents or someone who wants to chuck money your way, it’s never going to be an easy ride early on. But the reward is huge, and beyond financial. Satisfaction of creating things you fall in love with, that people enjoy enough to want to look at them everyday is pretty great. Plus the struggle is all part of the fun - if you allow it to be.
Can you talk us through your creation process?
In truth, my process is quite erratic. I love hanging a blank canvas without spending a second trying to plan what I'm about to do. It's expressionism in its' rawest form. I'm always surprised by what comes out. My studio is a bit of a mess - which helps. For me, mess breeds imagery. I feel very awkward in a tidy space, it just doesn't work for me. I like being able to immediately grab an old pastel from the floor wherever I'm standing. This helps to ensure that the things I create are unique to the moment alone - and entirely a one-off.
Is there a common reaction to your work?
People generally enjoy the energy of it. Some people are baffled by it. Some people connect and fall in love instantly. Any response is good. I love surprising people.
Where do your ideas come from?
I don’t really have ideas as such. I try to block out all methodic thought/personal debate, and reject the planned approach. I want context to come through naturally, and authentically - and that is innate in me. I have concerns around contemporary society and they are things that are part of my mind. The more I allow these things to come out by themselves, the more unique they tend to be presented. I’ve tried it the other way round (coming up with an idea; working with that outcome in mind), but that always feels more like maths to me - not creativity.
Who are your inspirations and influences?
I try not to seek any inspiration at all and as far as possible, I try to avoid looking at work of other artist's. This is an entirely natural thing to me - it's the only thing that ever made sense. I don't really feel the need to find inspiration. I've learned over the years that immersing myself in the moment helps me to create work that comes entirely from myself, with limited external inspiration. I want these things to reflect my character.
How have you developed your work since your started out?
I used to be a realistic painter, but then I learned what art actually is. For me, if 'art' doesn't begin with emotion, it isn't art at all.
What do you have planned for the New Artist Fair in September?
For this year's New Artist Fair I’ve been painting like a madman in the studio and couldn’t be more excited about what’s coming out. I’ve just announced a key new project (A show of hands) which I will physically release at the fair. Contextually, it’s probably my most important project to date - and I’m just getting started with it. Link: http://theartfulgreen.com/2019/08/06/announcing-new-project/
What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
I want to create important, challenging work that will stand the test of time. Becoming rich is not a motivation - I do this because I love it, and feel as though it’s what I was born to do. I also hope to use my work to help resolve the social issues I’m concerned about/painting about. I have an ambitious show planned in relation to that, that I hope to make happen within a couple of years.
Advice to aspiring artists?
Do what FEELS right. There truly are no rules to this. When I stopped trying to force work in a certain direction, I started becoming successful. Put your stamp on everything you do. Nobody else's opinion matters. If you like it, it's right. Only you know when a painting is finished. If you feel like it's finished after only 20 minutes - have the balls to go with it. Some of my favourite works are completed in under that!