Spotlight interview with artist and craftsman Andrew Boyce
In this artist interview, Andrew Boyce shares with us his artistic process, ideas, and inspiration. To see more of his work, please visit his online gallery.
Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
My name is Andrew Boyce, I am 57, and I currently work as a production and development manager for a small company making polyester resin castings for The British Museum, The Brewery, and point of sale industries.
I started working as a cast aluminium sign maker, developing the pattern and emblem making skills that I would use in my work later in life. I design and craft the original patterns and make the moulds that determine the aesthetics of a large number of interesting retail items. My artwork is determined less by a distinct style than by a love of the materials that I use to make them.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
It was never really a conscious decision. I fell into it because I was keen to try new things in terms of subjects, techniques, and being prepared to face the criticism that comes from producing work that is ultimately a subjective pursuit. I suppose, like many of us, you continue to pursue something that you gain pleasure from doing, especially when you receive encouragement from others.
What training did you have?
No formal training as such outside of leaving school having done A level art. I learned the most valuable lessons about how to go about producing a piece of work that I was happy with through good old trial and error. I think that if you are honest with yourself about the marks you are making on the canvas or the strokes of the chisels that you are using, you will quickly learn what works.
What I mean by that is if you start working on, say, a drawing and you are unhappy with how a certain part is looking, then listen to your judgement and correct it until you are happy with it. Perseverance, studying, and understanding what it is that you are trying to achieve often is the best way to be happy with what you are creating.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
I think receiving a commission from the British Museum to make a couple of small items in resin certainly made me feel like my work was appreciated. And whilst what I do may not be regarded as high art, the private feeling of personal success is the measure of the height achieved rather than the financial reward.
What’s your favourite quote?
‘Queen Elizabeth gave me a cabbage.’
My own quote that I had made into a t-shirt after leaving Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham having endured a coronary artery bypass graft — or CABbaGe as it was referred to by the nurses. It amused me for a while!
Who is your favourite artist?
I think that the work of Caspar David Friedrich has always fascinated me. And in the world of wood sculpture, I am always in awe of the work of Ian Norbury. I suggest that anyone who thinks that working in wood can’t be a high artform and is unaware of Ian’s work should have a quick google.
What are you aiming for?
Just to get enjoyment from what I do and continue to learn about new materials, new techniques, and interesting combinations of techniques. Never let anyone tell you that a technique, material or combination of them is ‘wrong’ or being done incorrectly. There is no wrong in artistic expression!
How will you get there?
Perseverance, an open-minded attitude towards my work, and of course being open to the influence of other artists and craftspeople brave enough to share their work on places like ArtWeb!
Is anything holding you back?
Only myself and my lack of self-belief and self-confidence.
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I just hope that they like it! That might sound fairly shallow, but I know that the confidence that appreciation gives me is in some small way a driver to motivate my next creation.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
I like to work quickly. Not only does this help stop something from looking contrived (you can overwork or overthink the marks that you are leaving), but it also stops me from getting bored. I hate doing the same thing twice too! So I hate preparatory sketches for instance because as soon as I have done the exercise piece, the real thing often becomes a poor copy of the sketch. I think that the real creativity comes in the first strokes of work and these are often best when done quickly.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
Strangely I can’t focus when there is noise going on! I prefer the silence I suppose.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
I would LOVE to do pottery, stone carving, and lots more unusual combinations of materials perhaps.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you and why?
My wife. Her beauty and strength in adversity makes her my lifelong inspiration.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
I think the obvious to many: nature, the beauty of captured moments when walking or seeing something very fleeting and sharing that moment with someone. Not that these moments always translate into a successful piece of art, but they are nonetheless inspiring to continue and finish the piece you might be working on.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
My first wood carving of a jungle scene. I started ambitiously and took on a huge relief carving. It certainly was a relief to finish it after nearly a year, if only to prove to myself that I could try something new and have it be a reasonable success.
Words of wisdom
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Go for it; don’t be discouraged by the criticism of others. Whilst it is undeniable that kind words can inspire and drive you, they are ultimately just words like the words of the harsh critic. Be your own critic and be led by your desire to express your feelings through your work. I let myself become depressed by overhearing a discussion about a piece of my work. After months feeling that my work wasn’t good enough to continue pursuing, I realised that it is not about what it gives others, but ultimately what you get from it.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
Join a site like ArtWeb! Getting seen by as many people as possible will increase your chances of recognition.