Perspective Q&A – Matt Jackson

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Published:  September 14, 2011
Alison Copley
Perspective Q&A – Matt Jackson

How often do you get to hear an artist’s perspective on their own art? The Drawing Book Studios in Sydney is home to a bunch of talented illustrators and artists and apart from providing a comprehensive online presence for each artist (online portfolios, a gift shop to sell art, artist news, A-Z artist index) Matt Jackson decided that there was still something lacking – the artist’s voice. So he decided to launch Perspective.

Perspective is an online gallery of “authentic expressions to help everyone gain perspective on a single concept.” The gallery gives each artist a space to explain their artwork – through a written explanation, concept drawings and even a recording of the artist explaining their art. The best part is that you can also tell the artist what their work means to you through the Personal Connection button (and as limited offer you can receive a free print courtesy of Digitalpress).

We sat down with Matt Jackson to find out a bit more about the whole initiative.

A few of the artists featured on Perspective

You’re a busy man, what motivated you to initiate Perspective?
Over the last six years the studio has exposed me to opportunities, challenges and feelings. These have most often spawned from some of the most sensitive and tapped in people I know. Artists. The greatest reward I have received from this is insight. I learnt to enter the studio without preconceptions of the way things should be and instead open myself up to new perspectives. Perspective is a project intent on sharing the benefit of insight with the community.

What was the initial reaction from your illustrators when you briefed them about the project?
I was overwhelmed by how fearless and enthusiastic they were. Some perspectives arrived after just days. Pencils came flying into our inboxes and sometimes the phone rang even before the email had arrived because the artist was so excited about telling us how they had interpreted the theme.

My only take out from this is that the heart of every artist overflows with the desire to express them self with the freedom to be authentic.

Concept for perspective on power by Ken Taylor

Perspective on power by Ken Taylor

Why did you decide to include both written and spoken expressions?
I was presenting a hard copy portfolio of the Perspective on Power to Bradley and Ashley at Soap Creative and I admitted I felt that their empathy with what the artist was expressing was limited to my interpretation and delivery of the artist’s intention. Worse still it was spoken in my voice. Ashley offered the simple suggestion of having the artist record their Perspective on Power in their own voice to play in the online gallery. To execute that idea was a no brainer, it felt right.

The decision to include a spoken or even musically composed as well as a written expression was left entirely up to the artist and what they were comfortable doing. Our job managing artists is to do what we can to allow them to express them self comfortably.

Do you plan for Perspective to be an ongoing project  – do you plan to change the illustration theme every week/month/couple of weeks?
The Perspective project is definitely ongoing. It’s an area where we all grow and learn how to express ourself with the least goal orientation. If commissioned work is created in the classroom then Perspective is created in the playground.

Two months ago we launched Perspective on Power and we are about to launch Perspective on Success. Next year we will be considering new themes but have nothing solid in mind yet.

Concept for Perspective on power by Borja Bonafuente Gonzalo

Perspective on power by Borja Bonafuente Gonzalo

What has been the best part of getting the project up and running?
I really tried to hold myself back from looking, reading and listening to the individual perspectives until they were all together. The night before the online gallery was launched I waited until the studio was empty, opened a bottle of wine and then spent three hours soaking up every artist’s Perspective on Power. I left that night drunk with perspective. After soaking up all the different Perspectives on Power derived from each artist’s own personal and professional confrontations with the concept, I felt more empathy with the studio as a whole than ever before.

I also realised that there was no idea that belonged to any one person, there were many ideas that contributed to the project. We owe the project to everyone who contributed, to Redbox digital for producing the online gallery, to Digitalpress for the care they took with all the printing, to the management team at Drawing Book Studios for all their passion and effort, to our friends in the industry for their suggestions and to the artists for the bravery they showed in expressing them self authentically to the public. It is our project and I feel an overwhelming pride to play a part in it. Which is how I feel about the studio as well.

Can you share any personal connection stories?
Personally I felt most affected by Billmund’s Perspective on Power. The thought that went into it astounded me. I have learnt in my life not to take things at face value, to look beneath the surface at the underlying motivations behind the expression. I have often grown the most just by asking, why?

I also like the fact that the most powerful man has been overpowered by the one thing he can’t speak comfortably about let alone overpower. Kryptonite is to The Man of Steel what emotions are to the patriarch.

What has the initial reaction from the creative industry been?
Professionally speaking, most people appreciate that they can peruse a gallery of work that is based around the same theme with only the illustrator’s creative input affecting the final work.

On a more personal level, the comments from the creative industry prove that the project is helping the industry gain more empathy with the artists. Every time we receive a personal connection to one of the works in the gallery we ask if we can post their comment on the site. Some people have felt awkward about their personal expression being shown in public. It is at this time they realise that this is exactly what artists bravely do on their own every day of their lives.

Concept for Perspective on power by Jessica Singh

Perspective on power by Jessica Singh

You also have an exhibition coming up – Perspectives on Success – how does this link to the online gallery?
The exhibition will be for one night only on September 28. The Perspectives on Success will be displayed on large format A2 prints and will be available as limited editions of two per artwork on display. There are only two ways to obtain one of the prints. A person can either offer the highest dollar value for the work or they can write a personal story that illustrates how they connect to any particular artist’s Perspective on Success. The artist who took that Perspective on Success then decides who the second print should belong to. Unlike the online gallery you can choose as many artworks to connect with as you like. After the exhibition the work will be launched online, most likely in October.

How do you think Perspective will grow/evolve?
The themes that the artists give their perspective on will grow and evolve as the themes we focus on as a society do.

The exhibition and the works displayed will also grow and evolve as we receive more expressions of interest to be involved from artists using all forms of expression. We have already received interest from sculptors, musicians and animators to offer their own perspective.

Want to view Perspective? Click here to view the online gallery and choose your favourite.

All images copyright by the respective artists.

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