When did you first become interested in painting?
I have been interested in becoming an artist since childhood, in primary school. I was interested not only in painting or drawing but in all sort of general creative activities. As such, I started drawing, painting, doing ceramics and wood carving, some photography, and even poetry… I must have been 11 or 12 when I made my first “very professional” photographs and canvas paintings, which were exhibited at school, and when I wrote my first poems (really deep and profound, as my mother said). These were later published in the local newspaper and nobody knew how old the poet was.
Did you always know you would become an artist or did you have other ideas?
I always knew very well what I wanted and that I would become an artist, but I did not know when it would happen. I was born in 1968 and grew up in an industrial city in the south of Poland in a Polish-German family. It was not easy, especially in those days, over there. I remember once that I mentioned that I would like to be a writer or painter and many people had ironic smiles on their faces. So, to get to this point in my life where I am today, it wasn’t straightforward, nor fast.
I completed my BA and MA in Methodology of Arts Teaching, next I attended Philosophy courses at Jagiellonian University. For many years I used to be an artist but only for myself. I worked as a teacher, journalist, sales person, then as a graphic designer, creative director and an entrepreneur in my own advertising business (but it was not creative really). I even worked as a personnel development trainer and coach as well as a recruitment consultant. I only did something creative from time to time, like commissioned work. In the autumn of 2003 all my artworks and much more personal stuff were suddenly gone in a fire. Devastated and depressed I decided to emigrate to the UK. Now I know that I had to learn a lot, to grow, to develop myself mentally and emotionally.
Are you a full time artists and if so, how do you manage your time?
After many years I decided to devote myself exclusively to my artistic career. At last! This was the best decision I have ever made! Now I am feeling free and I have a deep understanding of who I really am.
I work as a full time artist and designer. To be perfectly honest, there are very few people on this planet who can say the same: I am one of the happiest people, at last I am doing what I really love, what I really want, what I have always dreamed of and should have done, but could not.
24 hours – this is my continuous creative process. It does not matter whether I am working in my Studio & Gallery based at Bede’s World Museum in Jarrow (Newcastle upon Tyne) or at home in South Shields where I have been living since 2005. Or when I am walking down the beach with a camera or a sketching pad, or when I am playing with my kids. Every single minute of my current life is a creative process. A few times during a week I am waking up in the middle of the night because suddenly I have to do something important: to draw some idea, or to amend a part of a collage, or – just like last night – to change three – literally – three letters in a poem on my newest artwork… My life is a continuous creative process.
I never thought about managing my time in some particular way. Right now I am working all the time, with no breaks because I do not need them. I do not have to go to the office, meet with some managers or anyone else, nor to sign time-sheet for example. That’s why during the last calendar year I did twice as many wonderful and amazing things than throughout my entire life! No concerns, just open ideas in my head. No worries (like before), just a continuous creative process.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspirations..? Hmm, from everywhere and it is a never ending process. Music, landscapes, other artworks, the texture of the clouds in the sky, even people talking on the street… truly, there are no limits at all. Colours, shapes, words – sometimes proverbs, textures, music lines, elusive impressions, emotions, thoughts, my own internal and external worlds… I love (I really do!) listening to York or Shura (chill out music) when I am working but sometimes the legendary Metallica can push me to be more open to a myriad of external or internal incentives. I love to create some kind of simplicity using complicated components (my recent solo exhibition was titled: Complicated Simplicity).
How did your interest in collage art develop?
Mixed media and collage techniques can give me artistic freedom: I do what I imagine, what I have seen into my soul, I do what I want and how I want it. This is very important. I am also an artistic tapestry master weaver and mosaic artist (I have completed professional courses in artists’ private studios in Poland and Italy) – but no tapestry and no mosaic could give me this kind of freedom.
I am currently working on my visual arts projects (collage, tapestry and mixed media on paper) and two books at the same time. One of the books is about, in brief, about my very own and brand new “discovery”, the mixed media technique, as a way to achieve the real artistic freedom and the highest level of my own creative potential.
You have a very distinctive style, have you always worked in this way?
Distinctive..? Honestly, I never thought about my work and style that way before. But, I can see what you mean and you are right. Yes, I think I always had some kind of uniqueness, not only in my visual artworks, poetry or attitude towards different things, but in general. But I have never seen it that way. Of course I am not always happy with my final results. I am still learning and I always will, up to the last day of my life. Maybe longer, who knows… I am working on “my very own style”, both recognizable and unique. I don’t know if I will find it, obviously, but I do believe I would.
Are you influenced by any famous artists, if so who are they?
I have been influenced by impressionists (a bit by Cezanne, a bit by Monet and other masters). But, to be perfectly honest, right now I am strongly influenced by Magne Furuholmen’s work. His art is strong and deep and very close to me at an emotional level. Thanks to him, surprisingly, I have discovered again, but in a completely new way, how to see, how to understand and how to feel the contemporary art.
Could you please describe the practical process you go through when making a painting?
Practical process..? It all starts with an idea. It is like a sparking vision, very hard to describe. I am using my imagination, and then I visualize it to reach all my recognizable emotions related to this idea. It is not always successful. Then I am starting sketching and drawing, sometimes I am using graphical programs, but not always. Often I feel very strongly that I have to start working straight away, without planning or designing. This step is rather unstable.
When I am preparing the surface of the future artwork (canvas, board, paper) I am trying to stop thinking about the idea, especially about details… then I start working, step by step, inch by inch, colours by textures or words by shapes. And my previously “imagined” or “visualised” idea starts changing, transforming – this is always a very exciting part of my creative process. At some point, the artwork comes to life, literally, and I can always catch this moment.
I am very focused and concentrated on my work but my senses remain clear and sharp. This is like meditation. I know that the outside world still exists somewhere, but I stop caring about it. If I am in my studio or in my home workshop, the phone is off, the laptop is closed down, the doors are locked. Everyone who knows me knows that I am in a mental place far away from here.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a “typical day”. I am full time artist and for me “full time” means no limits at all. I am actually working 24 hours a day. I don’t have to spend 8 hours at the studio. I am always well prepared to do my work even in my car or at 2.30 am, if necessary. My creative work is the core of my life. At this stage, after many lost years, it is simply impossible to divide these imperatives. And this makes me more than a happy man.
View Robert Andler-Lipski’s gallery.