Sunday, 8 January 2012

My Interview with Dave White.

I first interviewed Dave in November last year; and my phone screwed up recording it, so we hooked up again just before Christmas to have another chat, and this is how it went. 


I’m going to start with a bit of a generic question to start; which artists inspire you?
When I was little, I can distinctly remember Kirk Douglas portraying Vincent van Gogh, and just really picking up on the fact that this was a guy who did his own thing and absolutely loved portraying everything around him, and that really struck a cord with me; his philosophy about why he makes what he made is very similar to my ethos; I don’t really make anything for any other reason that I need to say something.
One of my all time favourite paintings is Wham by Roy Lichenstein; obviously he’s an incredibly famous pop artist, and as a little boy, seeing that plane in flames, the fact that it’s a static moment; it’s quite desperate and horrific - the colours and everything about it was something that I really enjoyed and was attracted to.
I think that Takashi Murakami is one of the most important 20th century painters; when you actually look at the work in the flesh they’re so flawless. That craftsmanship is very kin to the Old Masters and I love that.

Tell me a little bit about Americana?
It was something that I was toying with for a while in my mind, like all of the subjects that I’ve ever touched on, are things that I’ve got a deep connection to, or that has profoundly affected me when I was a kid, like watching Cowboy films and the iconography of the wild west; it’s Americana, it’s classic. In native America, the importance of animals is incredible, like with the Spirit Guide, so I tried to portray that importance by using 24 carat gold leaf and platinum leaf to symbolize their majesty.

Do you get the chance to check out current artist's work?
There was a time when I’d come into the studio, I’d have my cup of coffee, I’d trawl all the blogs, seeing who’s doing what, what’s going on, but now, I don’t actually look at anything any more. I’ve made a conscious decision that the only person’s work that is relevant to me is mine. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, like, I read an interesting article with Lucien Freud; he said the same thing, I love and respect everybody else’s work but it’s pointless me looking at it, because it’s almost like a distraction in a way. I obviously know what’s going on, because we’re in that sort of society that this information is at our fingertips, in blogs, but I’ve just changed my habits.

In each city in the world, there are different accents and different dialects – do you think you can define certain artistic dialects according to cities?
I think street art has a very unique and transferrable appearance; whether it’s stencil, a transfer, or out and out graff writers. I think every city has their own facets of street artists. There are some great graff writers in Liverpool. I saw Style Wars when I was 14 and obviously thought I was going to try and be the next Skeme, but I only had two cans of paint from Halford’s and that isn’t really going to work really is it? I obviously still include a bit of spray paint in my work; it’s still a medium that I love to use but it’s like, I don’t do trains anymore, I don’t do murals any more, because I felt that what I was doing with oil, like it clicked, and I thought, this is my medium. I could basically communicate so much better my ideas with oil, and my kind of existence through it. I never sign my work, I just hope that people would see it and recognize that it’s mine. As soon as I connected with oil paint, at 16, that was my thing. Spray paint was a fantastic medium, I loved it, up to a point, but then your ideas develop and you develop and you progress, you learn more, and I just sort of left it. 

How do you feel about Kidult, like with what he did on the Supreme shop or Hermes?
The world is a very strange place and without going too deep, brands and viral marketing, things are advertised in a way that you’d never think that the brand was behind it. I love his process, I find it very interesting, I love the paint application; it’s out and out f’cking graff. I feel sorry for the cleaner at Louis Vuitton; I saw a video clip of her rolling up, and nearly having a nervous breakdown, so I felt for her.

Let’s talk a little bit about collaborations with brands; obviously you’ve done quite a bit of work with Nike in the past, how has all that been?
I’m very honored when any kind of brand wants to work with you; like that’s a massive compliment and a real treat when somebody likes what you do and wants to embrace that. I’m pretty particular with who I work with, but if it’s not a brand I actually wear, or connect with, I wouldn’t do it. You know whether it’s Nike, Kid Robot, Coca Cola or whatever, it’s got to be something I connect with, and it’s a brand that I really respect, and there will be a challenge for me to execute.

Lennon or McCartney?
McCartney, hands down. I’d love to paint him, he’s got such a good spirit; he’s an amazing man. It’s funny though, but when I was at college, on the first day when you started, you were asked to pick a space, and that’s where you’d be for the next three years. You get to know the people around you who work at the college - anybody at art college has to have a lot of respect for the cleaners! On my last day, I was finishing up, and the cleaner who had been there for years, said to me, do you know who’s space this was? And it was John Lennon’s. I’d been at his old space for the last three years and I had no idea.

When you’re painting, do you kinda need peace, or do you listen to music?
Always music. I always have music on. I think, it’s that rhythm, the beat, like any kind of creative outlet, whether you’re a poet, a musician, a painter, there’s that energy. When your brain, your hand and your eye are connected, and you’re not thinking about anything, thinking about what you’re drawing or painting, that’s when the best kind of work is created. That’s something that music has always done for me. It’s normally like, gnarliest like drum and bass, or hip hop from 1992 to 2001, like I’m proper old school when it comes to music. But saying that, when I was doing Americana, I was listening to the music of an American composer called Aaron Copeland who produced the most incredible music, like if you were to hear a piece of music that sounded like it could be from a Cowboy film, he was the guy who really started that genre, and his music was amazing.

What would you say has been your most humbling moment?
In life; there’s been a few key moments in my life that have profoundly affected me, but you know what, any time I sell a piece of work, it’s a humbling moment. This is probably my most humbling moment: I received an email from a child, a little boy, who said, Mr White, I’m sorry to disturb you but I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about your work. This little lad had lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, like, everything. I was just like, ask me what you like! It’s like that kind of thing, that’s the best part; when you can help people, just even offer advice.


Typing this up made me remember how sound Dave is, and I'm not shagging ass here, but it's probably the most enjoyable interview I've ever done. So nice one! 


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