Name: Craig Atkinson
How did you get started doing art?
I don't remember a defining point, I've just always been into images, I've always responded more to visuals than words. I remember being asked when I was 8 why I only used black and white to draw and replying something about not needing colour because it was a drawing. I guess things progressed from there!
Describe your process.
My process is wierd. I have to get everything else done before I can make anything, I'm a bit obsessive like that, things have to be tidy! Then when I make work I'm fast and prolific. I always work in sketchbooks, all the time - this is where a lot of ideas start. I generally work as I did when I used to paint big abstract pieces. Although my work is now small and figurative I still apply the principles of colour, shape, line and tone to my work. A lot of the time the image is meaningless, sometimes it gets lost in absurdity!
Tools of the trade? Favorite medium?
Favorite medium I think is pencil and paper, nice and simple. Least favorite is anything that involves a strict process. I've never been a big printer for that reason. I do like printing occasionally though.
How would you explain your art or categorize it?
I wouldn't like to categorize what I do. I have a lot of trouble with the notion of being 'a painter' or 'a designer' for example. We're all artists and should work with what ever medium we need to make the work we must. The work I make is quite simple and innocent seeming. Often there is something small though that will make the work a little sinister / absurd
What products, prints, books etc do you have coming out this year or are out?
I have just released my new book, 'Reward'. I wanted to do a few things with this book that I haven't with the others. It's full colour. It's limited to 250 copies, 24 pp. 15 x 21 cm and £3. I'm really happy with it, more than the others I've made. It's a selection of sketchbook work from the last year. Some drawings from China / Morroco / UK and some made up stuff. People always see my finished stuff either in shows / magazines / online. I'm always more interested in peoples sketchbooks, it's like seeing the workings of someones mind, or reading their diray. So I wanted the book to be like that, a bit more raw and personal. I have a load of prints too of various pieces, each limited to 5 copies.
What inspires you?
This is a cliched answer but just living really. The stuff that the world seems to be made of at the moment. Conspiracy, Big Brother, all the Idol programmes and things about fat people that can't leave their beds. The worlds a crazy place, there's so much inspiration around. Too much maybe.
Any words of wisdom for young artist?
Hard work always pays off. 16 hour days are normal. A lot of people try hard to look like artists and make less effort to become an artist - don't do that!
Tell us about Cafe Royal.
I've been into zines and small books for ages. I just wanted to get more involved really. We started to sell other arists publications first. That brought us into contact with some great people who make some really nice stuff. The bad thing is that we spend far too much on zines now! Afetr a year or something we decided to start publishing too. So now our main thing is publishing - we have the store still but over time I think we'll probably just work with the things we publish ourselves, whether it be our own work or that of other artists.
What is one thing every artist should do in your opinion to become a better artist?
Hm, I don't know if that's for me to say. I guess be less pretentious and work harder, but that doesn't apply to everyone.
What is your favorite piece of art work that you wished you had done?
Nice question! I don't know / don't have one I don't think. I get bored very easily, so today I might say something and then tomorrow I won't like it! I guess Hirst's skull, I don't like it but $100,000,000 would be nice to spend making work I want to make!
A Certain Ration, Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens, The Cure, Joy Division, The Kinks, The Ting Tings [at the moment], The Stone Roses, Gomez, The Doors, Sigur Ross, Tycho, Lykke Li,
In no order and off the top of my head...
Eddie Martinez, Bill Dunlap, Jockum Nordstrom, Cy Twombly, Picasso, Chris Johanson, Tal R, I like your stuff - is that sucky?!, Henrik Drescher, Christopher Davison, 1911, AEIOU, Zeroten, Ward Kuypers, so many to remember!
Favorite thing to do when you aren't doing art?
Stuff with my wife - we'll soon have a baby boy too, Oscar. I like Gardening, pottering with my websites, days out, history channel...
Favorite books, magazines, blogs....?
I read whats around to be honest, most of my reading is now done online. I have loads of news feeds on my google home page, tonnes of blogs in Google reader. I like ANP Quarterly for what they are doing, and Arkitip though they're a bit slick for me. Raw Vision is great but the images are too small! All the usual suspects, Modern Painters, Frieze etc. I like Drescher's book - Postal Sceance.
What do you have coming up, projects, shows, etc?
I'm super busy at the moment with avrious things. Everything always comes at once, just when you think you can have a break! I'm working on the new Café Royal book. We're working with Jockum Nordstrom, Marcus Oakley and Henrik Drescher on that. I just started a blog - thisisagoodthing.com, just to catalogue all the cool things we get sent / see.
The Golden Record. Collective Gallery Edinburgh. August.
Manchester Zine Fest, Urbis, August 30th.
Title to be confirmed. Novas Liverpool. September.
The Joyful Bewilderment. Truman Brewery London. September.
Katalogue, Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Brasil. September.
The Sefton Open, Southport, September.
Best Of Merseyside, National Conservation Centre, Liverpool September.
The Train Car Project, Papa B Studios,Brooklyn, NY
Solo show, title to be confirmed. BADept Blackpool. Autumn.
Thanks for this!