Art as Identity
By James Burke (Founder)
I’ll never forget my first day of uni. We had been asked to do a small project over the summer and present the results to our new course mates and tutors that morning. I had drawn a piece of graffiti, but when I presented it to the room and my tutor turned round to me and said “great, but is it art?”, I didn’t really know how to take it. I remember resenting him for showing me up in front of all those new people and ultimately questioning my ability to recognize what art was.
Instead of feeling offended, I should have thanked him, as he triggered a question in my head that has gone on to underpin all my creative projects, and formed the foundation of what Acrylicize has become. Immediately after graduating, I founded the studio as a vehicle to continue this question.
The exploration of what art can be and the notion of its limitless possibilities is what drives us as a studio, and challenges us to make work that rarely fits into any category or genre. Instead, we simply trust our instinct and intuition to guide us to a final outcome.
Inspired by Nelson Goodman’s essay ‘When is Art’, and driven by the idea that art shouldn’t exist exclusively in the gallery space, our work is an exploration of identity in the age of ‘brand’, with a fundamental belief that art has the ability to express character and soul in a profound, engaging and accessible way.
Whilst these fundamental beliefs have remained behind the project from day one, the output naturally has changed along the way, and will continue to do so. Evolution is critical to our forward momentum. The concept of not knowing what is next is incredibly energising and makes each day we exist as a studio the most important day so far.
Of course, what we are doing is nothing new. Commissioning artists to tell stories in the built environment has been happening for centuries. From ancient Greek civilisations to the great Renaissance works painted for religious institutions (the great brands of their day), these works, which are now considered to be seminal moments in art history, started life as patron commissions and form a major chapter in modern art history. Whilst the patrons have changed, art’s enduring ability to tell powerful stories and connect us with our environments has continued to engage people of all cultures across the world
Our work looks at new forms: Pop Art illustrated how art and brand could be intrinsically linked, whilst Graffiti leads us to hip hop culture and the concept of cutting, pasting, remixing and sampling. These influences can be found at the heart of our creative philosophy as we blend art with design and form with function, in a constant pursuit of new outcomes and combinations.
So is it art? Instead of trying to answer that, all we can do is keep the question at the heart of what we do, as in doing so we create a landscape with no boundaries and a platform to challenge the creative culture around us. As a wise man once said “let’s. push. things. forward”.