Does the name Joel Veness ring a bell? You’ve probably heard of his most recent conquest; an 80 foot mural situated right down the road in Paddington. Titled ‘Renegades of Funk’, the mural really will stop you in your tracks and is definitely worth checking out next time you’re in the area.
Formally trained as a Visual Artist, Graphic Designer, Art Director AND Interior Designer, Veness gives new meaning to the term ‘multi-disciplined creative’ (/man of many trades?). Originally from right here in Sydney, Veness grew up in the streets of Paddington; a place bustling with creatives like musicians and artists during the 80s. With a wealth of experience, Veness has interacted with various areas of the art world, experiencing first hand the new trends and practices to emerge across the years.
We sat down with Veness to pick his brain about his illustrious career - chatting all things from where he finds inspiration to the best things about interior design. So, whether you’re an aspiring artist or designer-to-be, or it’s simply just the huge mural that has piqued your interest, keep reading.
[TLSE] Given your experience as an artist over the years, is there anything you’ve seen change or emerge in the art world that’s stuck out to you? [Veness] What has really stuck to me is collaboration. You are now seeing artists collaborating with huge companies. We are also seeing artists merging with designers and vice versa. Some fashion designers are now even having art exhibitions!
What is something you like about interior design? I've always been interested in spaces. How a space is created can have a huge impact on people. Imagine walking into the Sistine Chapel but the ceiling is all neon lighting instead of Michaelangelo's work. The impact would be totally different. A room can have such a presence and people can remember it if it is designed well.
Is there anything you don’t like in interiors? I try to see positives in everything. With everything that has happened this year, how do you think this will translate within the art world? The best thing about art is that it can survive anything. Artists will always want to create. We have this desire to make work and that doesn't go away. It's just always there. Hopefully there will be new works coming soon that will inspire people.
What is one of your favourite places you have travelled and why? Tokyo is probably my favourite place to visit. I love the architecture, I love the fashion, the food and the design. We're lucky Japan is on our doorstep! We had many Japanese woodblock prints at home when I was growing up. Today I'm very influenced by Kabuki and traditional Japanese prints. As a creative hub when you were growing up, do you think Paddington had an impact on your perception of things? Paddington in the 80s and 90s was very creative. I grew up in an environment where art was encouraged. It was during this time that I was introduced to art. It was at that point I knew what I wanted to do. Do you have a usual process or ‘ritual’ when it comes to creating your original artworks? I've been working on and iPad for the last year. It has given me enormous flexibility. All the brushes, colours, and canvas sizes are at my fingertips. I can work anywhere in my studio or go anywhere with my work. In the past, my ritual would have been cleaning brushes, setting up colour palettes and priming canvases but at the moment, it's just turn on, and create.
When did you decide you wanted to create a book, and what made you want to?
The idea for the book came to me this year. I wanted to take on the coffee table book, or rather the King of coffee table books. When you look at a stack of coffee table books, there is always one that stands out the most that you will probably see in many interiors around the world - at the moment that is Tom Ford's book simply titled 'Tom Ford'.
I decided my book would be called Veness Heads. Tom's book is 416 pages and mine will be over 420. I'm now thinking that this first book will be Volume 1 and I'd love to create 10. Some of the drawings will be available to purchase as limited edition prints on my soon to be launched new website - www.joelveness.com
What was the inspiration behind your most recent mural ‘Renegades of Funk’? Renegades of Funk was inspired by Easter Island. At the time, I was focusing on black and white and timelessness. I was also looking at the artist as a renegade. It's close to 80 feet, so the composition was challenging. The position of the mural was close to my childhood home, so it was also about that as well. If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to pursue art, what would it be? The most important piece of advice is to be yourself. The best advice I've received came from Brett Whitley's 1989 documentary. As a young boy, the video had an enormous affect on me. This piece of advice is very true. Art is difficult but it's also such a pleasure.
"If I had to give any advice to a young painter, someone who wants to be an artist. If you want to be an artist, you go to an art supply store and buy some paper and pens, and a calligraphy brush and some ink and aim at what is in front of you, the subject matter is not important. And then try and cheat and deceive and lie and exaggerate and most particularly distort as absolutely extremely as you can. After 6 months to a year or usually in the state of intense frustration, you'll see something that you truly haven't seen before. And that is the beginning of yourself and that heralds the beginning of difficult pleasure." Brett Whitely
INTERVIEWER | Brittany Ross, TLSE
INTERVIEWEE | Joel Veness
IMAGES | Supplied