Gary Goodman: Interview
When did you realise you wanted to pursue art further than a hobby?
I never really considered it a hobby – even as a very young child, it was something I took seriously. Neither of my parents or any other family members past or present were into art.I passed my 11+ exams and went to an all-boys grammar school; as a working – class kid this was quite a surprise and it took me a while to get used to being around lots of privileged boys with double-barrelled names who wore ties and jackets even when they were away from school. I spent a great deal of time in the art room, including lunch-times, and fell in love with drawing and printmaking. I decided against going into the 6th form and enrolled on an Art Foundation course at the local college.I’ve always pursued art – but, as an artist rather than an art lover – it’s the doing that interests me. I rarely go to exhibitions, but I can draw any time of the day and night, and often do.
How important is social media and a positive online presence to your success?
I’ve only really embraced it in the last 5 years or so, and it seems obvious that you need some kind of profile online – I do FB, Twitter, Tumblr etc and I also have my own website/blog thing. If you contact a gallery or dealer or potential buyer, then it’s a must to be able to direct them to your stuff on the web. I ‘m still unsure whether it has enhanced my career or sales too much, but it’s a necessity – people are always rushing about trying to catch their own tails so they don’t appear to have time to visit studios etc so much. It certainly makes life more convenient. I do worry that the world is now bombarded with a constant avalanche of images, which could possibly be a disadvantage. Anyway, the world rolls on out of control like a runaway train and there’s not a lot we can do about it
What materials could you not live without?
The honest answer to this is, MUSIC. I always work with music playing. I have my preferred art materials, and depending on which material/medium I am working in will determine how the images look; but I’d find it hard to work in silence.
How important is it to establish connections to other organisations and artists?
Sometimes you have to jump through hoops, smile and just get on with it. I’ve always avoided joining in any art group or society, or even group studios – I much prefer to plough my own furrow. The studio I have now is the 1st one where I’ve shared, but thankfully they don’t have many meetings. I was asked to join an art organisation in Chichester once – they said it would be good to get group exhibitions, promote each other, inspire etc, but it was rubbish and they were most interested in having meetings and not once did they organise any shows. I just want to make work not talk about it.
How do you feel your art has changed since you first started working?
Lots of people will look at my work and think that it’s the same as it’s always been – the reason for that, is that people don’t really look; they give things a cursory glance (and I mean everything in their world – not just art) and think, ‘o yes; Gary Goodman up to his old tricks again’ or some such. I understand because I do the same when I visit a gallery – I go through the exhibition quite quickly.I admit to being impatient and I do think that’s the main reason my work looks like it does. I can see a lot of change and development in my work over the years. I don’t even think they are particularly subtle changes – I can look at bodies of my work in retrospect and know exactly when I did them because they smell of that time when I was into a particular aesthetic, or way of working.
Do you have any advice for students trying to get their work noticed?
As I said before, an online presence is a must – it’s an unavoidable necessity.The best thing to get noticed though, is to make good work – work that has an integrity of intention, and honesty – no gimmicks etc. you can’t deliberately make work to sell; you just have to do what feels right, and keep doing it.
How would you describe your process?
I’m not sure I fully understand the question, but I go to my studio when I can, or I work at home on the table, and I work at college in lunchtimes etc. I don’t have any ritual; I simply start working. On the rare occasions when I’ve been asked to make images for a specific theme or have been commissioned to make something, it’s always been unsatisfactory – I don’t have a message, I’m not trying to say anything particular, I’m not interested in making comments about world events. Some would call my work vacuous or trite, but I know it comes from a sophisticated place in my heart rather than brain. I am very sensitive and know what I feel.
What are your most important influences?
Again, a difficult question to answer – however, as I started saying above and earlier on – I am influenced by mood and emotion – social things, animals, my children, anybody that makes art (painting, music, poetry, literature, film) with conviction and honesty, the weather, experience, memory, fantasy and music of course. Also, there is still some magic left in the world (I don’t mean David Blaine or Dynamo), despite everything being analysed to death, and it’s the mystery of the unexplained that I like. I am a poet as well as a visual artist and although the 2 are separate things, (some things I can paint, other things I can write), the truth is that almost everything I do has an autobiographical element.