Meet The Others: Ian Thomas
The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.
Sydney-based artist Ian Thomas works with multiple mediums to created his works of art. Characterized by repetitive black and white circles, or the subdued tones and varied patterns he also uses, Ian Thomas’s work is has been collected by art-lovers globally.
How would you describe your artwork?
I make abstract mixed media works which reference travel, people, film, music and pop culture. My most recent works have generally been based on specific locations which I associate with specific people, using google maps to create a structure and then mixing various media to tell a story. So I guess they’re abstract portraits of key people in my life.
What does making art mean to you?
Making art means fun, freedom, frustration – its my favourite thing to do. If I’m not making it, I’m generally thinking about making it. I’ve been fortunate enough recently to become a full time artist – it’s a bit nerve-wracking but having the freedom to spend all day everyday in my studio, with the odd swim here and there, feels like an incredible privilege. I’m loving it.
How did you get started making art?
I started painting about 18 years ago. I took some time off work to spend with my baby daughter, Stella, and at the same time came across a painting course called Hart Start, which was run by two high school art teachers. They had their own view of how art should be taught which didn’t necessarily fit with the HSC curriculum, and decided to offer their approach to adult students instead. It was about process and making work, rather than focusing on the end result. They limited colour choices, worked in a non-representational way and minimised that inner judgement that tells you things look like crap. There were no brushes – you just got stuck into paint with your fingers or scrapers or knives. And it really worked for me. In fact I still work like that. I like the process of painting to be clearly visible in the pictures – they’re rough and physical and hopefully feel energetic and loose. Anyway – I studied with them for a year or so and then moved into a large co-operative studio with about 30 other artists and never really stopped.
What is it like to be a part of The Other Art Fair?
TOAF was a really interesting experience. Not necessarily an easy one, but a useful challenge. I’d never had that face to face contact with people, or prospective buyers, while representing my own work. It’s not always easy to talk about or explain your work, and I found that difficult for the first day or so. But as I got into the swing of things, I particularly enjoyed the last couple of days. You get a sense of who wants to chat and who doesn’t, the kind of things people want to know and maybe start to formulate more succinct answers to questions that people ask repeatedly. I think you also need to leave your fragile artist ego at home – and just accept that some people will like your work and some people won’t! But overall, it was a great experience. I sold some work, met some really interesting people, made some useful contacts and will definitely be applying again!
What is your favourite piece for sale on your SA profile and why?
My favourite piece is ‘one grey’. It’s about a weekend in Melbourne which I have very fond memories of – but as a painting, there’s a ‘chalkiness’ and a simplicity and a repetition about it which I like. The colour palette of greys, creams, whites and blues is one I come back to again and again – I enjoy knocking colours back to a muted tone where they seem to sit so comfortably alongside each other.