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Staying Creative with Greg Keen.

This week we chat to 2021 Art Comp Winner Greg Keen about his Art Comp submission and the many ways he finds inspiration to create. Check out the full interview below. 

To see more of Greg's work, make sure to follow him on IG here


Well done on the Art Comp, very well deserved. How did you get into image making?

I’ve always been a doodler. When I was younger I was fascinated with drawing cars and trying to do calligraphy. As I went through school, I would paint and do observational drawings, but I was never very good or interested in creating lifelike images. I actually preferred making rubbish posters in Microsoft Publisher, and so I left my A-Levels to study graphic design, which is now my career. Drawing became a sort of outlet, and a way of keeping a visual diary. I’m not someone who can fill sketchbooks or draw everyday - it’s quite sporadic - but I find that I surprise myself when I create art and it can be a really cathartic process.

Which artists have been the most influential to your work and why?

David Shrigley is the big one. When I discovered his work, it really shattered my taught beliefs of what ‘art’ is. I love that art can be crap, scruffy and fleeting. I am also a huge fan of Hiller Goodspeed. His childlike drawings are so heartfelt and calming. They’re always a bit silly and deadpan. A more recent inspiration is Ray Johnson, especially is mail art. Blending graphic design, illustration and fine art fascinates me, and I love the community input and unexpectedness of what is posted back to him.

What are your favourite themes/points of exploration?

It’s often about feelings for me (deep), and working out what’s going on in my head in a visual way. I feel I have only just begun to explore the relationship between art and graphics and everything in between.

Can you tell us about your submission to this year's Art Comp?

I originally drew it when I was in a particularly rough patch with my mental health, and I was reminding myself of what I have to be thankful for. I was also in a sort of surreal mental space, with some derealisation thrown in for good measure, so the figures I drew were these sort of weird detached versions of my friends. But the sentiment was there.

Favourite piece of yours?

It’s probably the one in question. It has a lot of sentimental value, it felt good to create it and it sums up my style at the time.

Any new, out-of-comfort things you’ve been trying? How did they come about?

Recently studying a new specialisation, changing industry and moving cities. I started learning about graphics for filmmaking and committed to doing some courses and setting myself new projects. Recently I landed my first proper job on a film, making props and forging designs, and it’s expanding my practice quickly! Now I’m excited to get back to making art in a new way with this new way of thinking.

What advice would you give for an upcoming creative in your field?

Give yourself as much time and space to try as many things as you can. Go to talks that sound interesting even if they aren’t your ‘thing’. Start small and build it up slowly, make money in your day job and develop your passions outside of that to begin with. Most of all, if you aren’t having fun, it shows, so switch things up, take lots of breaks, find ways around hurdles. Don’t underestimate the power of talking to people and having mentors!

Favourite film / film that influenced you most?

My favourite of all time is probably Goodfellas. I also love the moodiness of Lost in Translation and the design of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Dream Client/Collab?

I would love to make some clothes with Lazy Oaf. It would be a dream to make things with Hiller Goodspeed, or Obvious Plant, or Paperback Paradise. In terms of filmmaking, I really want to work on a surreal comedy film with a satirical take on the world so I can make some stupid fake things.

Finally, any artists/ designers we should know about?

There are too many. Chris Harnan, Ollie Hudson, RTiiiKA, Harry Wyld, Sujin Kim and of course Hiller Goodspeed are all spectacular.

Cheers Greg!