Where are you currently based and what is the music / art scene like there?
Currently in SYDNEY, Australia. Not really sure about any scene here although I’m sure there is one at least, if not many. I’m sure they are full of “too cool for school”cliques with top end shit talkers, social climbing parasites and of course the ever so common enthusiastic haters, backstabbers, imitators and wannabes. I really just kind of keep to my studio and to myself, well actually that’s not entirely true , I do go to art openings occasionally and a few public gallery functions here and there I suppose. The scene feels quite quiet and a bit too grown-up and drab actually. I find myself in bathrooms of dirty dive bars either writing my number on the walls or calling numbers left by other weirdos just to see if they have the courage to answer.
How did you first get into art?
My grandmother used to give me butchers paper when I would stay at her place on the weekends. She told me to draw everything I saw. She herself painted many paintings over her lifetime and I recall her keeping an active studio in the back room of her hot box of a house for as long as I knew her. She didn’t call them paintings though, she called them practice boards. Whenever I would visit her we would go straight to the studio and she would talk to me about what was going on in all the pieces she was working on. She died at the age of 91 having never sold a painting. A true lover of painting my grandmother was. My favourite painting to this day is a portrait of Will Smith which she painted at the age of 84 not knowing who he was. I asked her why she had painted the “fresh prince of Belair” and she replied; “that he was an attractive young man”. She’d simply seen him in a magazine one day and cut him out and knew she just had to paint him. Her name was Josephine ‘Steele’ Lister and she was an orphan born in 1919 on Christmas Day.
What have you been working on recently?
I’ve just completed a body of work where by I have altered a number of old masters’ classic paintings. Works like the “sunflowers”by Van Gogh and “weeping woman” by Pablo Picasso. Some of the other artists i have remixed include Lucien Freud, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Rembrandt, Lichtenstein and Degas. Upon finalising these works I began work immediately on a new series of two headed superhero’s which I am calling my “breakup” paintings.
What inspires or influences your art and how has your inspiration and influences changed over time?
I am inspired by color and form as blunt and boring as that may sound. Constantly realising my work influenced by several combinations of philosophy and culture, people and history, music and technology and a large portion of disaster between. A great statement by a great painter once said, and I quote; “inspiration is for beginners, the rest of us just get to work” – Chuck Close. Id like to think that I actually just get to work most of the time. Until I find myself answering ridiculous questions like this and just have to shake my head and wonder who even bothered writing to ask such trite predictable fluff.
You are originally from Brisbane, Australia. What was it like growing up in Brisbane and did Brisbane influence you and your art?
Brisbane was and still is a bit of a punish for me personally. I don’t really want to go into the details but let’s just say I’m glad I don’t live there now. I may completely change my mind one day and realise I was the problem all along but for now I’m happy to leave it where it is.
Who’s art are you really digging at the moment?
My own work to be honest. I really dig being in the studio. Iv always been about the work and more importantly -making it. I don’t think that ever changes. I need to be enthralled and excited about my own practice and the new developments and directions I activate. There is a world of great art that I love and get great joy from visiting on my travels and through books and the internet of course. I feel that if I was digging anybody else’s art more than my own I would’nt be doing a very good job at challenging myself. Having said that I am constantly seeing great work which makes me smile and at the end of the day I feel that if an artwork is truely great my first reaction is to smile when viewing it for the first time. I only hope my work can create a responses like these in others as much as they can do to me.
What do you aim to achieve with your art?
Just that I guess – a feeling of happiness and or joy. Naturally to encourage others to seek out their own means to enjoy being creative. And of course- to echo in eternity as I stand upon the shoulders of so many so much greater and grandeur than myself.
The streets play a major part of the medium where you create your art, how did you first get into street art and why do you like to use this medium to create and display your art?
I began working in the public in 1999 and have maintained a steady uncommissioned urban practice since. I like the immediacy. I like the secrecy. I like the exposure. I like being stealth. I like pretending to be drunk and/or on my phone. I like to have a plan. I like the activation of public spaces. I am a believer in the freedom of visual speech. I believe in freedom.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Mostly classical radio. Some Pusha-T. A bit of techno and the rest just rubbish.
What do you like to do away from art?
Going through trash on the sidewalk. Antique stores. Shopping for flowers. I like to skateboard with my son. Eat nice food. Take walks in the gardens. Go on dates. Get dressed up. Read. Spend hours in second-hand book stores. Same as everybody I suppose.
How do you know when a piece that you are working on is finished?
When something is done it feels done. Sometimes I can take it too far or occasionally in hindsight I will realise I could’ve done more. It is kind of the same thing with eating; you know when you have eaten too much right? In the same way (when you are still hungry after dinner) you realise you should’ve eaten more when you had the chance so you do the next time you get the opportunity to and so on and so forth. Painting is much the same. As we grow older and more a tune to things like eating or painting for that matter we develop a keen sense for fullness.
If you could live anywhere and during any period of human existence where and when would it be and why?
Simple. I would choose now and here. I wouldn’t change a single thing. Everything is as it is for a reason. My only wish is that my children live happy, peaceful and fulfilling lives.
Any secrets that you care to share?
Only that there are no secrets to anything in life when one can truely listen to the nature of goodness. To hear the great teachings of those that have gone before us would be true peace. If someday I could somehow calmly lead others with love toward goodness I’d share that secret. Too bad I’m actually more like some asshole snaking spots and calling people all sorts of fucked up in this big ass traffic jam of life for all that “do the Tao now” just yet.
What do you think makes good art?
Questions like that. Or maybe answers like these. Not sure exactly. Probably a bit of this and a bit of that and whole bunch of hard fucking work I presume.
Please describe your creative process, from how you arrive at an initial idea to the finished piece:
It is always a little different. When I think I have the pattern sorted I realise that it’s all a sham and I find myself back at the drawing board. So short answer: I draw, then think, write some notes, then think some more, prepare my surfaces then go for it. Sometimes the preparation is enough, sometimes it is far too much. Somewhere in between giving too much or too little of a shit I find myself facing my fears and that is where I am at my best and when I shine brightest. The product of this is what I find myself calling my artworks’ complete. And thus the whole process of working my way around a planet sized apple begins once more.
Art and drugs can a lot of the time go hand in hand, do you think that by being under the influence of certain drugs that one can create great art?
I don’t think it matters whether someone is on drugs or not when they are making art. When it comes down to it at the end of the day, if someone has not applied themselves to their practice and devoted a countless amount of hours to their craft, whether that be making art or making cupcakes for that matter; if you can’t make cupcakes you definitely can’t call yourself a baker and you’re pretty much up shit creek.
What drives you to create and what about the process do you most enjoy?
Seeing something new with fresh eyes. My mother’s reactions to when I try to shock her. And drugs of course.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Either a pianist, an astronaut, a poet or a dead shit bored as fuck nodding off at the train station drug addict.
Any words of wisdom?
Have children early. Do what you love.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Grapes/ lasagne. City centres with a skateboard worldwide.
Website – www.AnthonyLISTER.com
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