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The Artist Interview: James Rawson

James Rawson Interview

The Artist Interview James Rawson, with a new body of work which explores a world of primal matter and familiar structures with unknown origins that create a sense of wonder and mystery. James pierces the facade of our everyday world with his esoteric paintings and charcoal works that blur the lines between sculpture and painting. These works plunge us into a deep dreamlike world, inhabited only by enigmatic monolithic structures and long forgotten sculptures. In this world the maker’s mark is evident but the maker is not, unknown origins speak of lost civilisations, presenting more questions than they give answers as structures appear untouched by time. Both facets of this work allude to a greater metaphor for mans mark upon the world, of our insatiable use of natural resources and our relentless greed for material wealth.


1. Could you tell us about yourself and your daily routine? What does your day look like?

My day starts at 6 am when I take my dog “Ghost” out for his morning walk. I usually start my work day by checking some emails and working out what tasks need to be accomplished that day. Most days are spent painting in my home studio with “Ghost” curled up asleep in the corner. However recently I have been work more often in the warehouse on my charcoal works, as these are very messy.

2. Where did you train and what place of learning had the biggest effect on your work or creativity?

I got my degree in fine art from Loughborough University. This period of learning was more about ideas and approaches to making art, focusing on the bigger questions about what is art and what it means in society today. Through the degree course, I didn’t receive any technical instruction on how to paint. That learning process has been self-taught with help here and there through the years from various tutors along the way. Possibly the biggest impact came at school from art teachers that recognised my talents for art and really encouraged me.

3. James Rawson You are a young and emerging artist who has been playing with various styles, how has the subject matter evolved over time?

It has evolved dramatically over the years, particularly from the work I started making in my early career. I’ve done a lot of experimenting; I have never been afraid to try out new things. If I pursue a new concept but decide to not take it any further than the initial stages, I still take a lot of learning away from the experience. Often ideas for work I have done in the past will crop up again but in a newer work. However, overall the work has got much darker.

4. What do you want the viewer to gain from observing your artworks?

A sense of wonder and beauty. It should make them stop and drink in what they are seeing. But most of all I want them to be fascinated by it, to want to know more. I like making work that creates more questions than it gives answers.

5. Have you thought about exploring other media than painting? What is painting for you? and what other mediums interest you.

I have recently broken away from painting with my charcoal works. I feel they are part way between sculpture and painting. It’s exciting to be getting to grips with a new medium, the more I do the more I realise how dynamic the material is and how much scope there is to do different creative things with it.

6. It appears that there’s a trend toward abstract art. Do you feel that way? Why or why not?

I’ve always been a great admirer of abstract works. If someone can create a feeling of emotion or even transcend you to a place or time by evoking a memory, perhaps without representationally depicting something, that is the mark of true genius.

7. You have a new body of work called Sanctum, could you tell us more about this series of works.

Sanctum has split into two forms of work, charcoals and paintings. They seem quite different from one another but to me, they both come from the same world. This body of work is woven with a perception of the simple elements from our world, stone, water, ice, fuel and fire, moulding them together with the power of ancient structures. Mostly exploring the beauty that can be found in simple surface textures and materials.

8. What is your biggest struggle and success as an emerging artist?

Money… but I think any emerging artist can vouch for that. The biggest struggle is believing and staying true to your vision in a world where everyone thinks they know best and will try and pull you this way and that. I’ve always thought your vision is purer than a committee, otherwise, ideas get watered down. I think my biggest success is the combination of all the smaller ones.

9. why Art as a career?

I wouldn’t want to do anything else, making art/being an artist is as important to me as breathing.

10. Do you have a favourite Artist?

I change my mind too often to answer that, I’ve had lots of favourite artists and I will probably have a few different ones in the future. I don’t like getting bogged down in absolutes.

11. What are the Goals, Dreams, Aspirations?

Exhibit as much as possible. Get my work in front of as many people as possible, and to continue making art into old age and live a comfortable life.

12. The Last book you read and a piece of artwork you most admire?

I don’t often read books, I simply don’t have time for it. However, I do consume a vast amount of literature through the medium of audiobooks, which I listen to during the many hours of painting I put in. I think the last audiobook I listened to was “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. I listen to a lot of sci-fi novels, especially those on dystopian worlds, that has no doubt influenced my work. Again, I don’t have a favourite, there are too many great works to call on that one.

A link to the work on the James Rawson  website

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James Rawson new works will be featuring in an upcoming interview TBC.

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