Bob makes ‘psychosurrealist’ art. That name, that labelling, was enough to have me intrigued. Questions kept popping up. What is this genre? What makes it different from surrealism? Psycho – is there an element more about the thought than the visual? Maybe it’s the way he creates it? Questions, questions. So who better to ask, than the man himself… If you like what you see, head to Psycho Surrealism to find out more, or hit up the online shop.
So ‘psychosurrealism’ – explain? – Why did you feel the need to create your own genre?
I just don’t think I fit in with any other genre. I’m not trying to suggest I’ve created something totally unique, I don’t think it’s the job of the artist to create a genre. Surrealism is the closest art form to what I do but I don’t see my work as anything like it. New artists painting Dali-esque landscapes is sad and most of the surreal online galleries are full of this sort of thing and I really don’t want any part of that. The most common comment when someone sees my work is that they can’t really put their finger on what it looks like, is it surreal, pop art, outside art?
Also, I just liked the idea of Psychosurrealism as a type of company name!
A mixture of the psychoanalytic, psychedelic and surreal – what is your interest in each area?
The psychoanalytic part comes from my need for each piece to have a meaning. I could churn out 100 paintings per week if I just painted something ‘weird’ looking. When you see a piece of my work and then read the title, it should make sense what it is about, or you can at least make your own conclusion. Another comment I hear a lot is that people would like to get inside my head to see what goes on, after seeing my work. So I like to make the viewer think about what they’re looking at.
I don’t think the psychedelic part applies to all of my work, mostly just the recent pieces but it’s something I’m trying to include going forward. The new psych rock movement is the best thing to have happened to music in years and I’ve been really influenced by it. Bands such as Tame Impala, Goat, Gnod are all I listen to while I work. Plus the original stuff from the 60s and 70s such as Pink Floyd, Funkadelic.
Surrealism is probably the biggest influence in terms of art. Dali was the first art I saw as a child that caught my attention, so I’m sure that has had some effect on my work. But as I say I don’t want to just copy what they do and I don’t think I could if I tried. H.R. Giger was also a big influence through my teens, I really want to buy an airbrush to see how that might affect what I do. I will say though that I’m not influenced by other artists at all when it comes to creating a piece. I don’t look at online galleries or books as I don’t want to subconsciously borrow an idea or style.
Who or what influences you?
I would say my main influences are music, movies, quotes and real life. Listening to a certain type of music definitely changes the outcome of something I’m working on. As mentioned above, I’m listening to a lot of psychedelic music right now but if I listen to something heavier it seems to add a bit more of a darker feel. About seven years ago I was approached by Live Nation to create a concert poster for Marilyn Manson. I’m not really a fan of his but to get myself in the mood I listened to a lot of Nine Inch Nails who I am a fan of. So there’s a little period around that time where all of my work is quite dark.
There aren’t many movies that inspire me, a lot of rubbish is made but something that is visually stunning will have a lasting effect. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Being John Malkovich, Donnie Darko and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are ones that spring to mind.
A few years back I started keeping a notebook of quotes that I heard. Something that might sound perfectly normal will suddenly create a picture in my head. Everyday things like ‘keep your eyes peeled’ or ‘button your lip’. But then other things that I’ve heard in songs such as ‘violent seduction’ or ‘everyday is a future memory’ will go in my note book. I’ll then sketch out something based on these quotes but it may take years for one to turn into a finished piece. This process is probably the main way I work nowadays, especially combining it with listening to music and picking up lyrics.
Finally real life. A good example is something I’m working on right now. Last week I took my six year old daughter to the park to play on the swings. It was early evening so the park had been invaded by teenagers. Sat on one side were the boys, while the girls sat on the other side in two groups. Each group of girls were doing their own thing to get the attention of the boys and it reminded me of watching a wildlife programme about the mating patterns of wild animals. This has now developed into a piece of work.
How long have you been creating art, and what has the process been to developing this style?
My first piece is actually 21 years old this year. I would say my style has always been the same but my early work is very rough around the edges and the ideas are a bit immature. Although there is still a meaning to them all, right back to the beginning. None of my early work is online but hopefully one day I will get some of it up there.
Is your work more reflective of your interior world or the exterior world in which you find yourself? What can I learn about you or the world from your portfolio?
There are phases I’ve been through which I look back on now and I can see a reflection of my own life in my work. More recently I’ve been using quotes and music as my inspiration. So really you’d have to decipher what work reflects me and what doesn’t. I don’t like to give too much away though. I’m totally against the whole celebrity culture and even though it doesn’t affect me as I’m a complete unknown, I prefer my work to do the talking.
You design gig posters and band artwork. Does your work lend itself particularly well to music do you feel?
I do think that, especially the new psych rock stuff, or other alternative music. I’m happy to create something for a band, free of charge, if I like their music. I prefer to work without a brief, just do my own thing and if the band likes it they can use it, if not then there’s no hard feelings.
I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve never set out to make money from my art, I do it because I love it and don’t think I’ll ever stop. It would be nice to get a bit of recognition but the art industry is a funny one so I doubt that would happen. I think if you compare it to the music industry where they are constantly looking for the next new act, the art industry works in reverse. They seem to only be interested in established artists. We should cherish Dali, Warhol, Magritte etc but we should also be looking for new artists. Graffiti art is a good example, how long did it take for the art world to accept this as an art form?
I don’t care about doing exhibitions or selling my work but I’d like to collect them all together in a book and maybe combine them with a short story associated with each one. If I am to get any recognition it will probably be through something like this or a gig poster. I’d rather be known to the average person than to an art critic.