James Tailor - Artist Interview

James Tailor is a London based artist who started his journey as an interior designer. In his late twenties he went back to school to study art, which is now his focus. Find out more about James Tailor in our interview with him!

By Katharina Wenzel-Vollenbroich
James Tailor - Artist Interview James Tailor - Artist Interview

At ARTPIQ, understanding art isn't only about trends, styles, and colors. Understanding art is also about the artists, their motivation, their stories. That is why we feature our artists on our blog so that you can better understand them, and, by doing so, better understand their art. Below is our interview with James Tailor!

Where do you come from and where do you now call home?

I have a Celtic background, born to Irish and Scottish parents. I am currently living in London.

Where did you study?

I returned to study in my late twenties. In 2013-2015 I attended London Metropolitan University where I completed a Bachelors with a First Class Honours Degree. I then moved on to the University of the Arts at Central Saint Martins 2015-2017 for my Masters where I also received a First Class Honours Degree and was chosen to receive the Helen Scott Lidgett - Acme Studio Award for 2017/18, this culminated with a group show at Peer Gallery, London, in 2018. 

What influence did your studies have on your art?

Prior to making art I used to be an interior decorator. This work also took me into nightclubs making promotional canvases and learning specialised paint effects. It was in my late twenties that I decided to change direction and return to study, this decision allowed me the time and space to explore my creative sides. Research into art history is fundamental for me as its the starting point and important for the contextualisation of my work. Working in this way allows an ambiguity to be present that avoids directing the viewer to a said understanding of a given piece. This is achieved with subtleties like the size or tension in a break and the angles in between things - seemingly small choices or restraints can have very powerful connotations. People connect more with a piece if they reach their own conclusion but it’s my responsibility as the artist to make sure each piece is able to stand on its own as an intriguing object both visually and contextually. It was my studies that helped me find this balance.

Describe a little about your style and method in laymen’s terms. You work a lot through multi-media, almost sculpting and forming much of your work. When did you start working like this? How did you come to such a style?

My practice is a result of experimentation - I’ve always had a keen interest in expanding my knowledge of materials, techniques, processes, mistakes, overlooked objects and any unplanned elements which arise. An example of this are my paint skin paintings. During my BA I was washing up some brushes when I started to peel out some dried paint from a tub. I was fascinated by the paint skin I found and my practice diverted from that point on to explore the materiality and limitations of paint. 

Who are some of your favorite artists that you look up to (either from the past or contemporaries, or both)? Why?

During my studies, and through out my career I have been fascinated by movements such as Dada, Art Povera, Suprematism and Conceptual Art, but was compelled with the history of painting as a medium and the way it is viewed. My practice has been preoccupied with the phenomenological aspects of the materiality and reception of the art works and in particular with the way in which, in the present times of viral dematerialisation, I counter the melancholic severance of the discarded objects with which I assemble my sculptural pieces, with the unifying quality of an obsessive reworking of those objects through (acrylic) paint.

Artist I have especially admired are Louise Bourgeois, Jannis Kounellis, Daniel Buren, Steven Parrino, Tony Cragg, Phyllida Barlow and Jonathan Baldock. Being aware of what's happened, or happening, undeniably informs me and its something I'm devoted too. It's important to keep expanding on a knowledge that aids conversation, without repeating what's already been said.

What would you tell an up-and-coming artist that wants to make art their career? 

I would give an up-and-coming artist 2 bits of advice:

  1. Experiment and put the time into your practice, there are no short cuts regarding this. 
  1. Rejection can be a huge part of being an artist. Find a few constructive people who’s honest opinions you respect and build and maintain these relationships - you will need them. 
What are your plans for the future? Do you see yourself continuing to work in this same style or do you ever feel the need to change things up?

I am planning to stay focused on the development of my work, this will involve research and working with mentors. I will also be moving to a larger studio later in the year where I can reflect, experiment and produce a new body of work for a solo show. My work implores experiment and chance encounters. My work is always evolving but I’m always open to new directions if it seems like the natural progression for my practice. 


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James Tailor - Artist Interview James Tailor - Artist Interview

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