Questions & Artists (Q&A) is our interview series spotlighting some of our favourite artists from our creative community. The concept is simple, each artist selects 5 questions at random to answer
We are thrilled to team up once again with super talented Olly Fathers for this quick fire Q&A
Olly Fathers is an artist based in Brixton, London. His work explores the relations between abstract shapes, different materials, and forms. Creating well finished, often playful pieces that encourage the viewer to take a closer look to understand the balance and precision involved. With a strict eye for detail, Fathers takes great satisfaction in the making process and this often becomes influential in the outcome of his work.
With a keen interest in woodwork, both as a skill and its use in Art and Design, Fathers has developed a desire to use wood in his practice and creates pieces using a range of different types and species. These works take inspiration from architecture, design, and culture including early computer technology and graphics. These pieces use incredibly intricately cut wood veneers brought together using self taught marquetry techniques. These works explore the visual language between simple forms and materials, working shapes into playful harmonies with one another to create this tranquil balance.
His paintings were initially a simplified reference to observing the flow of public traffic in built up cities, using paint to replicate the movement of people navigating around buildings, pathways, roads, etc. These pieces have become more refined over the ten plus years he has been making them, and have now taken on their own cleaner, minimal language, yet still having the sense of familiarity with the city landscape.
Fathers also makes lots of works with paper, card, recycled cardboard, wood effect vinyl, and more. Many of these pieces are often seen as studies for larger works in the future, yet still all treated as vitally important, well finished pieces of their own.
Do you have a routine to get your "creative juices" flowing?
I don’t have a strict routine but I generally get to the studio most days at around 9:30am. The first thing I do when I get in is put the kettle on for a coffee and turn the radio on. I normally prefer having talk radio or podcasts as being in the studio everyday listening to music can get repetitive so it can vary from LBC, radio 4 to TalkSport!
I try to get the admin out the way first thing if possible so once that’s been sorted I can focus on the making.
Is there something you do today that you wish you had known years ago?
To not try and over justify things at the beginning. Be confident about whatever you’re making and don't try to over articulate or conceptualise everything you’re doing too early on, enjoy the making and the rest will follow.
Also as boring as it is, be organised, document your work well and clearly. Being successful as artist these days requires so much more than just making strong work so anything you can do to help make the other parts easier is a massive benefit.
How are your ideas derived?
They come from a mixture of things - I take a lot of inspiration from architecture, design, City planning, nostalgic memories and materials. Many of these things are subconscious when designing works but a lot of the aesthetic choices reference several different points of inspiration.
The process it’s self ends up being a large part of my practice too. Several ideas and starting points have stemmed from things that have happened whilst making. My offcuts series for instance, I wasn't planning to make works like that but after making various works I started to amass a big selection of beautiful offcuts pieces which were too great to not use so began to think of ways I could champion these pieces.
How does art help you in other areas of your life?
At the moment besides my family, my art practice more or less is my life. It’s an incredible feeling being excited going to work everyday and something I’ll never take for granted. The benefit of currently not working for anyone else has it’s stresses but the positives far out weigh any negatives.
There’s a moment when making an artwork I’ve recently heard be referred to as being ‘in the flow’ where I’m kind of in autopilot, almost in a mediative state, where I’m not thinking about any of the stresses we all face, I’m solely focused on the process at hand, this capacity to switch off is so rewarding and certainly beneficial to my mental health.
What factors influence how you price your art or services?
There’s several factors - my works generally cost quite a lot to make so the price of materials.
The time it takes to design, plan, make, finish and document works is a factor. I don't have a strict rate for this but I’m aware how long pieces take to make and this adds towards to the price.
The years it’s taken to learn the skills and vision to make the pieces I’m making now. If an artwork takes a set amount of time to create now, it’s only that length of time because of years of experimentation, trial and error and perfecting skills to achieve this level of making. So I think that is something that has to be factored in to any artists sale price.