“[Artists] own a part of the culture in a way, and you can make things out of that. ” ~ Paul Antón
Paul Antón is a Fine Artist and Illustrator based in South London, currently studying MA Fine Art at UAL Wimbledon College. Antón’s practice “deals with the relationships between Form and Matter in Space” (Artist Statement) with an emphasis and drive from the process. As a multidisciplinary artist, his works can take the form of sculptures, canvases, installations and beyond.
As a London based artist with an international practice, we speak to Paul about the value of cross-disciplinary conversation, how to make creative work sustainable and new formulas for studio operations.
What is your definition of a studio?
Okay, so my definition of a studio is actually what the word means because when you have an office, its a place where you produce things. In an office, you can also do a little bit of research but you mainly get things done. But in a studio, you study. You research, you are meant to make progress. So, a studio is a place to study, to experiment, or to think things, or make mood boards. So that’s why I like that in architecture, sometimes they are called architectural offices, but mainly they are called architectural studios. A place you can think. So, an architectural studio is a studio not an office, a place to do research.
Collaborative or communal studio spaces are on the rise in London. Do you believe this formula could work?
Yes, absolutely, because my experience is when I go to the studio with my colleagues on my masters at Wimbledon College of Art, UAL, my head gets more open through talking to people. You may have, or for sure have a completely different practice, but by watching and talking you get so more open. When I am alone, like today- I’m at home doing some canvases… its okay, but I’m not as inspired. Its like when you are in an environment. Imagine, Friday night, you want to have some pints. At home, you could have pints; you just need a glass and a bottle of beer, and friends. But you don’t do that at home, you go to the pub. Even though in England in the pub you don’t dance, you are crowded with a lot of other people, you may not even talk to them but you are like in the mood. When you are in a communal studio, its kind of the same thing. You could have the pint at home, but you go to the studio to drink with the other people you may not even talk them, but you are there in an environment that is favorable to work. When you are an artist sometimes you can feel a little bit alone, so also you need that social component to see people like you, doing the same things, having the same goals, having the same kind of life, to talk to them so you can have a coffee. Today for instance, because London is so expensive I have a very small home, and I have the toys of my daughter here and then my paintings as well, and I’m going to have the whole day alone. It’s not ideal- I prefer to have my studio and have a coffee and a chat with someone something completely different to my practice, like gender. Gender discussions, even though I’m not doing anything about that; it opens my mind.
How can we ensure that artists are a part of the fabric of London post-gentrification?
My masters is focused on sustainability. Now, this doesn’t have to do with green spaces or environmental issues. We are meant to be learning to be a sustainable artist, that means at the same time as your research and your practice, being sustainable and being able to live out of that, being able to have space etc. I am a bit against artists, that say they struggle to have their own studio, their own practice, and to get some money and then they just ask their parents and maybe at some point at weekends they go work as waiters or waitresses so they can keep on doing the art. I strongly suggest the way of making your life profitable to get money to eat, to pay the rent, to pay the bills, is something in a way related to your art.
For me, I came one day to the idea of selling my illustrations. I am against this idea that the artist cannot pay the bills, and its a poor guy with a lot of talent… If you have talent, you will have the same talent to make a living out of it. You just have to find a way to make it marketable, to get things moving. You own a part of the culture in a way, and you can make things out of that. It’s not the main thing, because otherwise you would be confused if you work as an artist for the money. But you can have an alternative, maybe if I sell this on this website, I can pay the bills and I can have a bigger studio, and I can work more, and maybe in 10 years I am called by any major exhibition to show my work and then maybe I don’t get money, but I win a prize, and then I contribute to society with my art.
How do you believe these artist studios could materialise in the future?
This is not the future, this is today, but I quite like a formula of the art schools in the UK. It’s not the same in Spain, it’s not the same in China, it’s not the same in the U.S. and that’s why I am studying here. You have workshops, but you don’t get trained in something, you work by demand. So, “I need to cut bronze” so you just go to the workshop. You go to the different workshops that are available to produce the different kinds of art that you are making. Being an artist is more or less about delivering a message. We are moving away from this entitlement of being an artist, and saying “What do you do?”, and they say “I’m a painter.” No, now an artist could do sculpture or a painting, so he could go from here to there because it’s about delivering a message.
My idea is replicating the system of the UK art schools, where you have different studios, different workshops, and different displaying spaces. In the future, I believe that it would be very nice to have a big community of artists, where you have first of all- your own private space where you work and where you put things together. In my practice, I have to try things out because it’s about how I modify the space. So like a trial space maybe that could be shared among other people. And different workshops and you have the technician that is helping you a little bit and is charging you for the bronze, for the plaster… like a mini-shopping mall with different workshops whatever your need is.
How do you think artists should be communicating or collaborating with planners and developers?
I would say this same idea; well it depends how the developer wants to make a profit on this operation. But, I would go for big buildings with workshops and small studios and space to exhibit. The way each artist works is individual. For me I have to sometimes do canvases, I watch videos, I have to do messy stuff; maybe with plaster or cutting some wood. There are some other artists who just draw, so just need a small space for drawing and putting the drawings up. But rather than the developer doing a bespoke space for each artist, you know- this space is ideal for sculptures, or this space is ideal for sketches, or this space is ideal for conceptual art. I would do like a very standard way of creating the space, and then each artist will come and they are artists in the end, no? So they can put this table here or this bin there etc. But I would go for very empty space and then the workshops and then the displaying space. Rather than going very very bespoke for each artist, because it’s not ideal as that artist is going to leave and another is going to come. And what an artist needs in the end, is space.
The developers of their own practice; artists need space in order to create – the studio.
Developers of artist units should reflect upon this definition of the studio as the place of study and experimentation to better understand the programming of these spaces.
But how can we integrate these facilities and processes into the form of the studio and enter the realm of the multidisciplinary creative community?