What was your approach to creating these artworks for these operas? Is there anything that particularly inspired you?
We discussed doing something quite simple with a strong chiaroscuro effect. Inspired by the Old Masters really, I wanted images that were simple and powerful with all the focus on the person.
Tell us a bit more about the process of producing these artworks? (i.e. how you did it and with what)
My studio is actually my front room, so the children get banned from the room and the pets get very annoyed. I have built sets in there for years, so it is easy enough to set up a backdrop and light it. The worse part was that one of the cats stole the mouse in the Don Giovanni picture overnight, and I had a nightmare trying to get a replacement before my model arrived the next day. Nowadays I use a digital camera, but I don’t think it has quite the same magic as working in a darkroom, and definitely there is less craft involved than in the days when I printed in black and white and hand-coloured, but there is a different set of skills involved nowadays, and I’m happy to move with the times.
How did you first get started as an artist?
I bought my first camera while I was at university studying English. I began by photographing Still Lifes in my room, and buying photography magazines to find out how to do things. I joined a book club and was obliged to buy a certain number of books, and one of them was a book on hand-colouring photographs. I fell in love with the technique, and after that I was away. I had loads of tiny exhibitions in bars and alternative spaces before moving onto more traditional venues. Luckily there was a massive move to use empty shops etc as galleries. I suppose they would be called pop-up galleries now, but they were a really great place to start showing at a lower cost, and because I hadn’t come through art school I had to carve out my own path.
When did you first encounter OHP?
I had an exhibition in the Ice House in Holland Park in 2000, and OHP found me.
Has your style changed or developed over the years? If so, how?
Well the biggest change has been from traditional to digital. The different methodology really changes your approach to work. Originally when I took a photograph all the details had to be there and right. I would spend months making props and costumes, build the sets, get back drops painted and organised and have everything perfect before I even lifted a camera. Then I would process the films, produce black and white prints, and hand colour them. Now so much can be done in post production that it is a very different proposition. I still like to have everything crafted first, but there is less pressure to get everything right. There are other doors that open with these changes though. I have always loved surrealism, and intend to work more in that direction over the coming years.
What would your tip be to someone wanting to be an artist? / What do you wish you knew about becoming an artist before you got started?
Do it for love. If you want to make money be a banker. It takes time to get anywhere, so keep pushing forwards. In some ways it is easier now since you can have your work seen all over the world, although there are more people competing for that space, but never give up.