Presenting everyday objects in a contemporary way, as a piece of fine art, repackages them as treasures worthy of contemplation and acknowledges their inherent, but often overlooked, beauty.
In his works, Daniel Shipton seeks to uncover the gem-like quality of the everyday items that surround us - the things that, when we were a child, still held such a magical aura. He thus infuses his works with a sense of playful nostalgia, using contradictory perspectives and the generally underrated medium of colored pencil to establish a dialogue between the realistic and the abstract, memory and re-interpretation, the whimsical and the thoughtful. In doing so, the artist provokes the viewer to reflect and asks them to re-examine their interpretation of the world around them.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to become an artist?
A. Like many children I wanted to be a fireman, as a teenager a writer, and after university, I began working in television. However, art very quickly found me, naturally consuming me, willingly making me into an artist as opposed to me setting out and forcing myself to be one. This resulted in a very comfortable relationship with art enabling me to enjoy the creative process.
Q. Was there a pivotal moment in your career as an artist that made you change direction?
A. Using the sensational and overlooked medium of colored pencil for the first time completely changed my artistic practice. Picking up a pencil, such a humble and underrated medium, and unlocking its potential by embarking on the creation of fine art and realizing a vision, was without a doubt a pivotal moment.
Q. You have stated that your work is ‘designed to please and amuse’, would you say that a certain form of aesthetic entertainment and uplifting sensibility are the main goal of your work?
A. Yes, I want people to smile when they see my work, I want it to be positive and uplifting. Art can be an intense thing to experience and in asking people to live with my art I feel a sense of duty to enhance the mood of the space in which my work appears and of those that see it. My work and I have a nostalgic sensibility. I think this inbuilt nostalgia is a sentiment of amusement. I do certainly hope the end result of my artistic process is a work that brings about a smile.
Q. Your drawings play with a sense of perspective – within the confinement of one piece, you both zoom in and out on well-known forms, thus giving the viewer the feeling that they are both drawn in and are looking at a scene from a bird’s eye view. What are you looking to achieve with this contradictory pictorial approach?
A. I like art that intrigues the eye and to play with contradictions; this engages the viewer and is refreshing in its approach. Experimenting with perspective and scale are two ways in which I do this. Asking the question: ‘are we looking at a huge splodge of paint and normal-sized people or a normal-sized splodge of paint and tiny people?’ The very fact that this is a splodge of paint rendered in pencil feels slightly contradictory in itself and invites the viewer to engage in further reflection.
Q. Your subjects are usually everyday objects that we generally do not pay much attention to - how do you choose them?
A. Finding beauty in the seemingly mundane or the overlooked is something I explore in my work, both in its subject matter and in my choice of pencil as a medium. The subject matter of my art is often an item that evokes a nostalgic feeling of warmth, or amusement, or that reminds of a certain place in time. Presenting these everyday objects in a contemporary way, as a piece of fine art, repackages them as treasures worthy of contemplation and acknowledgment for their inherent, but often overlooked, beauty. I can be walking down the street, at a market, or in a shop when I happen across an object that evokes this feeling.
Q. Parts of your drawings showcase an impressive hyperrealistic technique, while others remain rather abstract, thus creating a field of tension between realism and surrealism. How would you categorize your own works? Or are you looking to defy categorization?
A. I don’t seek to defy or be in line with any particular category; I create what feels right in a way that suits my eye. Categories emerge in my body of work only after the creation of a piece but not consciously during their conception or execution. I see my work as a melting pot of influences such as pop art, surrealism, realism, and abstraction, and often these all come together in one piece. It’s only natural to be informed by what has come before, but I do not deliberately seek to follow or defy any movement, I simply create as it comes.
Q. Your work definitely invites the viewer to pause and take a closer look, is this an effect you consciously look to produce? And if so, does therein lie a message you would like to convey?
A. Yes, I want to engage the eye - for people to take a second, third, fourth look and to keep looking. This gives my work longevity and provides a rewarding experience far beyond a first glance to the viewer. As for a message, that’s for the viewer to interpret. My work entails a significance for me which I can and do talk about, but recently I’ve come to think that meanings are rather for the viewer to create. Like taking pictures of the clouds, a viewer will always derive their own personal message from a work, so I don’t feel it is necessarily right to already present them one. Giving someone the opportunity to think for themselves might be just as valuable as conveying a specific meaning.
Q. Occasionally, you introduce other materials into your work, such as gold leaf or glitter - a stark contrast to the drawings in pencil - what are you looking to achieve with this mix of media?
A. The use of other mediums principally acts as an artistic pallet cleanser for my mind. If I play with a new medium for a while, and then I return to pencil, it feels new, fresh, and exciting again.