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This is an emerging artist

Posted on April 30, 2015

A recent addition to the CDG family, painter John Hobbs has boldly allowed us into his journey into stepping out as an artist, and the entanglements to expect as an emerging artist. 
You can see John’s work here
John, you consider yourself to be an emerging artist, what do you mean by this?
‘Emerging Artist’ has become a clever and much used buzzword essentially meaning an artist no one has heard of yet. This is where I’m at right now, I make art and love doing so but few people know of my work. I guess I could endlessly paint and then stash the paintings away never to be seen but I enjoy showing people my work. Their reaction and interpretations can be surprising, seeing things in the paintings with a slant I haven’t considered. I love that there’s nothing necessarily to understand about the paintings, that they are totally open to interpretation. 
What is you art background?
I always wanted to go to Art College, it was my mecca, my destiny, so I was literally overjoyed when I was accepted onto a brilliant foundation arts course in Blackpool, a town you may not immediately associate with the arts, but the teaching and environment was beyond expectation. I loved it. Growing up gay in a small town in the North and having a traumatic family life with a manically depressed and alcoholic father was grim, I regressed into my imagination, but going to college opened up a different world and allowed me to express feelings and visualize my thoughts. I experienced moments of pure happiness just sitting and painting, something I hadn’t felt before. 
What steps have you taken to launch your career?
Initially I didn’t think about selling paintings, but with encouragement from friends and family who saw my talent I began making paintings for them. I then put some work on Artfinder and on Saatchi online and a few paintings sold. My next thought was to look for representation by a small independent gallery. I love the diverse range of the artists’ work represented by the Curious Duke and entered a competition run by the gallery. This gave me the opportunity to talk to Eleni, the gallery owner, and discuss the possibility of representation which I’m delighted to say has come to pass. 
What advice would you give to people thinking of launching themselves as artists?
Be true to yourself and enjoy the process. No guarantees exist but do something you yourself love and then see what others think about it. Put yourself out in a soft way, as a new artist probably your initial work won’t be your best so I wouldn’t shout loudly about it at the start. Yes consider where you’d like to go and the goals you’d like to achieve but it’s all about the work and the ideas, if your paintings aren’t great yet there is a lot of work ahead first. 
What would you change about the art world to make it easier for artists to get a foot on the ladder?
I’d love it if the ‘big’ galleries would showcase work from ‘emerging’ artists. At present the RA Summer Exhibition is your only possibility of having work shown in a major gallery and for this you need to pay per each piece you submit whether it’s shown or not. If the doors weren’t quite so tightly shut and bolted it would allow for lively and fresh new work to briefly have a major platform. 
Something that helps artists is finding their own style and being comfortably daring with it. This is evident in your work; tell us about your unique process? How did you come about it?
The work comes from the heart, the gut and the soul. I want to get that onto the canvas and show people what I’m feeling inside. Feelings aren’t neat or ordered so the way I apply the paint can be fast, messy and aggressive. I won’t reach a conclusion with one layer of paint, the surface is sanded back, the paint pulled off then re-applied and this can happen countless times until the painting emerges. I came about this process through experimentation and error. Be daring, yes indeed, you have to be. Don’t be precious about your work especially at the beginning, enjoy the process and throw the paint about, you learn a lot by doing so. As my brutally sarcastic life drawing teacher used to say, “Don’t start drawing in the eyelashes and finger nails”. 

Where do you see your work going next?
The work is a journey and I’m led by it, just as much as I lead it. I tend not to plan too much but allow things to develop organically. As part of this process I’ve realized I need to work on much bigger canvasses, daunting at the beginning looking at this huge blank canvas and wondering how to start, but it allows space to breathe. It’s like moving to a large house after living in a cramped flat. I will go yet bigger still in the future but it’s a gradual process. Technically speaking I’ve decided that for each painting to reach a conclusion I’m happy with, making up and customizing canvasses myself is a necessity and so I’ve been teaching myself how to stretch canvasses and then prime them with rabbit skin glue (which smells as bad as it sounds). When the paintings are complete I often coat them with a clear resin which brings the colours to life, making them pop out, and through much experimentation I’m finding a method of getting a perfect glass like finish. 
Do you have projects in mind that you haven't been able to execute yet due to space/ funding?
Many! I’d love to put an installation together using sound, a completely immersive experience in an almost black space with voices and sound coming at you from every direction, repeats of the same thing said again and again but in a sequence with pitch and speed differences and mixed in with other words and noises. I would also love to paint a series of monumentally vast canvasses which would sit on four walls of a room with the viewer in the middle, or the room made out of one vast enclosed canvas box moving upwards to a domed roof and with the viewer literally inside the painting giving a visceral experience, being literally right inside the painting and my imagination. 
Thank you John, it is great to hear such a frank tale! Very encouraging.
Written by Curious Duke Gallery blogger Sinéad Loftus.
Lover of all art and fluffy cats.