Before becoming a full-time contemporary artist, Piers Phillips has enjoyed a successful career as an interior designer. His pieces often combine the use of a limited palette and application of the medium to create prominent forms and composition. This includes a close focus on the manipulation of form, colour and texture, turning the natural environment into a unique pieces of work that evolve different emotional responses in each viewer.
Here we share an exclusive interview with Piers Phillips:
Can you tell us your backstory and how you got into the art world?
I am a painter based in North East Lincolnshire in the UK. I grew predominantly in the north of England but spent some time as a child living abroad. I studied Interior Architecture and Design at Nottingham Trent University and after graduating I worked in Interior Design for just over a decade. I have always painted along side my design work, in my free time and included it as part of my creative practice.
As for many of us the recent pandemic gave many people time to take stock and altered their perspectives on what they perhaps wanted to further themselves in. I say this as a very fortunate individual who was not directly effected by the pandemic, and the time during lockdowns allowed me to bring together a solid portfolio of work and begin to shift my focus from design to art.
I began to develop a number series of works based on childhood memories, family relationships and places in the world I have visited. From this I have been able to gain representation by 33-35 Gallery, Amersfort, NL, exhibit at The Other Art Fair London, participate in the Article 25 auction as well as selling a number of works and commissions to private clients.
My exhibit at The Other Art Fair at London’s Truman Brewery was a wonderful opportunity to showcase my work to the public. It was a great way to discuss my work, points of inspiration and technique with the public and other artists involved in the show.
Can you tell us more about what influences your work?
The majority of my work so far has focused around memories. The memories can come from childhood, from somewhere I have visited or something that has just simply occurred during the day and I have wanted to focus on creating something from it. I have always been drawn to turning a memory or a feeling from that memory into a tangible piece of art. So much about the way we go our daily lives is connected to our memories and I love the idea of exploring the emotions and feeling attached to them.
Much of my work has a close focus on the manipulation of form and texture. With a paired down palette I use these techniques to translate my initial visual interpretation of an idea into a psychical artwork. Repetitive mark making is a key part of my work. It’s a very calming process almost hypnotic as you can only focus on the process at hand and all external noise is pushed to one side. Hopefully this calming approach is portrayed in the artworks themselves and the viewer can somewhat find them visual soothing and satisfying.
As well as mark making, colour is so important in my work and often helps to bring an emotive quality to the work. With a simple palette and through the careful application of the paint I aim to introduce subtle tonal variations across the canvas to allow for a richer experience when viewing the artwork.
I have always been drawn to items or spaces with order to them, this I think comes across strongly in my work. It is that cross over machine perfection yet having human quality to it that I have always been interested in.
How would you describe your signature style and technique?
I touched on it a little on it earlier but I use repetitive mark making in many of my pieces, each individually applied, and informed by the same gesture, the marks are used to bring a sense of unity to the composition when viewed as a whole. However, further consideration reveals that each application bears its own characteristics, encouraging the viewer to develop and interpret new forms within each work.
I predominately use oil paint to create my works and combined with the impasto nature of my repetitive mark making it can create huge tonal shifts from the use of a single colour. By simplifying down everything to a few core elements, I like to focus on getting the maximum impact out of these without noise or distraction.
Scale is also a very key element to my work. For me personally simple alterations to the scale of a piece can create a very different emotional response to it when being viewed. I think this stems from my design background and how form, space and order can have a great impact on our connection with something.
Finally, I am all for slowing things down and the pieces are designed to connect the observer with their emotional response to viewing a work of art. This aims to counteract the disposable nature of modern society and the rapid consumption of instant stimuli, instead highlighting the importance of taking time to immerse ourselves in what is in front of us.
Are there any exhibitions or events you are planning?
What is the best advice you received as an artist?
Art comes first, technique comes second. This is not to say technique can be ignore but it is more the vehicle that carries what you are trying to express or the idea you are trying to convey.
I am also one for making sure things are done properly from start to finish, good things take time and not everything can be rushed. There is always so much more that goes into an artwork than just the final piece. From the initial idea to paint going on the canvas there are some many steps in between. Trusting the process is so important and I truly believe a more well-rounded and soulful artwork comes from doing so.
For more information please visit Piers Phillips website: piersphillips.com
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