Catherine Dunn [catherinedunn]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
I draw and paint. I also make things - I used to make small objects out of a variety of materials, but to call them 'sculptures' would be stretching it a bit! (More recently due to lack of space I've been concentrating on 2D work though.) I also do some craft work such as knitting and sewing, and occasionally a craft technique or medium will migrate its way across into my 'fine art' work.
I define myself as an 'artist' because what I produce doesn't really fit into any box other than 'art'. Sometimes it looks nice, sometimes it's trying to say something or make a point, and very occasionally it will do both. It's rarely useful and it's usually possible to hang it on the wall. I think that qualifies.
What is your message?
Don't be afraid.
Your biography in four lines.
Graduated in Fine Art in 2001. Creative, focused and enthusiastic. Will turn my hand to anything and will always have a go. I like to jump in at the deep end and enjoy life.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
It can be from anything - something I see or hear, a topic I'm interested in, something I've read, something new I have learned... I often get inspiration while I'm walking - it puts me in a light trance-like state almost like dreaming, except I'm awake. (I haven't stepped in front of any vehicles yet!) Sometimes I will get inspiration just from playing around with my art materials, but more often I will set out 'on a mission'.
I generally start off with a vision of what I want my finished piece to look like, rather than taking an 'idea' and exploring that. My inspiration is more visual than ideas-based.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
It sometimes helps me to get inspiration, although I'm more surprised about the ways I *don't* use it than the ways I do!
I don't use the internet to look at other artists' work - although paradoxically I do love looking at other peoples' art work (perhaps it all just looks too samey on-screen?).
I don't use Photoshop and similar programs. At one time I thought I wanted to - and I'm a bit of a geek in my day job, so I know enough about using computers - but the lack of immediacy just frustrates me. Perhaps things would be different if I had a graphics tablet?
I do use Photoshop to create posters and flyers for my exhibitions, and to design business cards.
I do use the internet to promote my art work.
I sometimes get inspiration from things I see online such as news stories or just... random stuff.
What is art?
When you don't just believe it to be art, but you know it to be art.
When do you get your best ideas?
Usually when I'm walking!
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
I have to have a concrete idea of the piece of work that I want to end up with, based on the idea. Then I begin to try and create the work. If I get bored with it and lose my inspiration I know it wasn't a good idea. However, if the work goes well and fuels other ideas and more enthusiasm I know it was a good idea.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
'Depression and Ideal' by Carlos Schwabe, the concept of visual kei, and any outfit by Yukari Ohba!
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
When I was in school. Maybe even from the age of 10-and-a-half when I got my first ever proper sketchbook! I signed my name to my drawings at that age so I must have had some hope they could be worth something in the future! Although I think that is quite funny now... for many years I wouldn't sign my pictures at all because I thought it was presumptious!
I never intended to become a professional artist and make a living from it, but while I was in secondary school I knew that if I ever went to university at all, it would have to be to study art.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
I'm not sure that they do. I think maybe the really famous ones tend to, but maybe it's just that when someone is well-known the odd aspects of their life and personality get picked up, rather than all the normal stuff.
It depends what you mean by 'volatile', too. A lot of 'creative types' can be a bit strange, but not all of them have a short fuse!
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
I consider myself half modern and half postmodern. ;-)
How should a work of art be evaluated?
There are three main objective criteria that I personally would use to try and evaluate a work of art:
-- Does the artist succeed in conveying what they were trying to convey? (If the message that comes across isn't what s/he intended, then the work has failed up to a point, even if it is a good work in other respects.)
-- Assuming it has been conveyed as intended, was their idea a good one? (If they succeeded in getting across a message, but the 'message' consists of something very unoriginal, I would tend to 'take marks off', so to speak.)
-- What technical skills were used to produce the work?
Most works of art will not really have all three of those points 'up to scratch'. For example someone might paint a really *amazing* picture of a bowl of fruit, but if the treatment of the mundane subject matter is unoriginal it is no better than a *good* painting. The artist would have to really try hard to 'say something' with her/his bowl of fruit to raise it to the level of a *great* painting.
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
Maybe everyone should.
Sometimes it is better to stick to your guns. But getting stuck in a rut is of course bad!
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
It's been a decade since I 'kept up' with contemporary art, so my answer isn't very up to date! I like the work of painters such as Gericault, Hippolyte Flandrin, Kitty Forrest, John Singer Sargent ... art-makers like Cathy de Monchaux, Louise Borgeouise (sp?), Sigmar Polke ... painter/draftsmen like William Blake, Carlos Schwabe, Kadi Kaivo ... conceptual work by Yoko Ono, David Everitt ... and I have a weakness for paintings of naked men in compromising positions, it has to be admitted.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
There should always be more of it. There should always be more public funding for everything.
Is art necessary?
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
No. If I don't want to let go of something then I will not offer it for sale. But I would much rather my work was looked at by more than just me!
Is a work of art purchased, or is it better said, that it is the artist who is bought?
I can see how it can be the artist who is bought in the case of performance art, dance and theatre, and perhaps in the case of an autobiographical piece of writing, but for paintings and work such as I make, definitely it's only the work of art that is purchased!
In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is?
I am my own guide.
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
Well, they are not really 'contemporary' then, are they?! If I enjoy the work then I'm happy to see it exhibited, but if a gallery is to advertise itself as 'contemporary' it should really exhibit work from artists who are practicing at the moment.
What role have the figures of art dealer, gallery owners, representatives, and intermediaries in general played in your career?
Very little so far! A few gallery owners/managers have agreed that I can exhibit in their spaces, and I've had occasional commissions (by word of mouth) and this can be good for getting inspiration as it forces me to produce work. But as an amateur artist this is not major for me.
What types of jobs do you usually do?
I have a 9 to 5 office day job. I've also done volunteer work for an amateur theatre in the front of house and in the costume hire department. I've had a range of other paid jobs, all different.
Which of your jobs or tasks do you most enjoy?
I quite enjoy cleaning tasks because they are physically active plus give a sense of satisfaction! But in the home I find them tedious and dislike them!
Do you personally collect any items?
Which websites do you frequently visit?
What advice would you give to those just beginning?
Have fun, and never give up!
You are in control.