Artist Profile: Thom Stuart

The theme most consistent with Thom Stuart's impressive body of work seems to be the generous lashings of complimentary colours that might collaborate to form anything from skulls to wreathes to abstract designs.  

His portfolio, which demonstrates a rare expertise across the fields of pen, paint and pixel, teems with innovation.  Thom's work has been found on murals, surfboards, streets, skateboards, canvas, and in exhibition spaces such as The Box and Love Love Studio.

We sat down with the talented creative ahead of this Friday's Saturate exhibition at Love Love, where his work will (aptly, we're sure) explore the role of colour in shaping the creative process.

1. Tell us a bit about your work?

It's mainly painting, drawing and printmaking.  At the moment I'm focusing on both natural and industrial landscapes, which I encounter on the daily for subject matter.

2. How did you first get into visual art?

My mother is a practicing artist, so I've always visited galleries and been around artists.  That seemed to be the normal thing growing up. Just being a kid, having fun, drawing and making a mess.  When you do that when you’re older you're called a weirdo or vandal or whatever. I like it, it's fun.

3. Have you had professional training or are you strictly self-taught?

I graduated from QCA in design, but I also spent a lot of time taking fine art electives.  In saying that, I've had to teach myself a few things on the fine art side - mainly by trial and error - especially with the bigger scale street work.  I was a straight up toy when I started and am probably still considered one by the street art heads but I'm cool with that.  I'm happy just trying different things, seeing what works.

4. Scrolling through your blog, it looks like your work takes a range of shapes and forms. Do you have a preferred medium?

I change around a lot, probably too much.  I think there is a common thread running through the work.  I see the different mediums as tools I have at my disposal to building a bigger overall picture.  The idea is that they will all eventual blend at some point.  

5. How do you think graphic design fits into the greater landscape of visual art?

I think there is a view from some artists that graphic design is cheap and commercial and therefore not on an equal plane with the high arts. Which in a lot of cases is true, but stylistically everything is so mashed together now I would find it hard to argue that they don't effect or draw reference from each other.

6. What do you find is the most exciting and rewarding aspect in your working process?

Seeing a work to completion, documenting it, sending it into the world and then freeing up for the next thing. I like seeing the progression from piece to piece and seeing how it constantly evolves.

7. Who or what inspires you at the moment?

I've been acquiring some legit art book over the last few months. Favourite five in no particular order are:

"The Quintessential Bird; The Art of Betty Temple Watts"
"People Think I'm Cool; The Life and Art of Pane"
Exhibition catalogue for Os Gemeos at The Institute of Contemporary Art,Boston
"Black Antoinette; The Work of Olaf Hajek" 
"Dresden Paraphrases; Gert & Uwe Tobias"

8. How do you find the Brisbane arts scene in term of accommodating emerging artists?

I find the size of Brisbane A+ as it gives you room to move.  I guess right now its quite DIY for emerging artists.  If you want to have a show you can usually get a posse and rent a space easily.  There seems to be a little pulse happening by some motivated individuals and small collectives but it's still quite barren out here in the context of the wider community.

9. What’s next in terms of challenging yourself?

I'm working on some large-scale canvases that are a lot more layered and detailed than things I have done before.  Can’t wait to get back to them after this Saturate show is a wrap.

10. Who would you most like to collaborate with (living or dead) and why?

I'd love to make something fashion based, with a brand like Carhartt for example.  They have a skill of collaborating with some great guest artists and it would be a dream to get to that level.

11. Where do you see yourself in five years and what would you like to be doing there?

Realistically, from where I'm at now I feel like I've got a long way to go to get where I want to be. I always struggle for time, trying to balance life so I'm on the slow train.

More study, maybe an overseas residency to get some more traveling done and some nice big walls to paint.  The gallery stuff can wait a while.  No rush.  One year at a time for now.

12. How does the space you're surrounded by influence your work?

I wouldn't call myself a landscape painter, but recently I've been painting more and more with this theme, directly bringing images, colours and painting techniques noticed and absorbed on my daily commute to work.  Using these visual elements, I'm basically to create a story about my immediate place and time. 

13.  How has living in Brisbane shaped your style and process?

It's hard to say, as there are so many reference points now, whether it be on the internet, books, whatever.  But I think the most direct link would be the use of colour.  Mashing together sun-drenched pastel colours, pinks, oranges, golds and seeing what works.  The other would be direct interaction with other present artists.  

I'm always seeing things and just thinking 'wow, that's dope,' or sharing techniques with peers and then taking it off in my own weird direction.

For further tastes of Thom's work head to his blog, or catch his latest stuff at our own S P A C E exhibition at Bleeding Heart next Friday!!