Shaun, have you always wanted to be an artist?
Got to go back a while…
One of the biggest influences on me was that I went to see The Monterey pop festival film at the Odeon cinema back in 1972. Two great iconic films as the support film were Creams Albert hall farewell concert. These films and era/ethos had a massive impact on me……….. I bought a guitar……… And so the love affair with music and art began aged around the age of 12. However, I can remember always painting/colouring/collage/pottery making from a very young age of 5 or 6.
So then after attending art school in the late 70’s and then selling your soul so to speak to pursue a career in advertising and graphics its meant that I’ve never been too far away from the excitement of the creative process.
You specialise in abstract, has this always been your style of choice and if so why?
Music and Abstract paintings now there’s a thought…
When creating a piece of artwork, most of the processing stages are based on emotions and improvisation. Once the painting is complete, my sole goal is for each viewer to find their own story when looking at the artwork. Still, if one is interested to hear my perspective on the work, I can say that it is, most importantly, about playing with the combination of colours, textures, lines, and more. My paintings, however, are mostly created with the use of multi-layered paint, which is not necessarily intended, to create figurative details as I want the painting to communicate the message as a whole.
Do you have other creative pursuits? How does this influence your work?
I consider my artwork, photography and music as all part of the same creative process – I’m passionate about them all. They have always intertwined in my world. I also play in a few bands, a duo and for a rocking blues band, playing local gigs in the area.
Can you tell us more about your ‘‘GuitArt’ series?
This developed by chance really, although looking back now, it was a quite logical step for me.
I produced one to start with, sold it in a B&M gallery, which gave me the encouragement to do more. Even produced an iBook of them all at some point a few years back with stories about the people and bands that played the featured guitars.
The majority of all the work you see is based around original paintings in the first instance which are produced mainly in acrylics, textures of sharp sand, glues, cotton, rust, with the use of oils, pastels and spray paints etc.
My work involves placing the Guitars on my original contemporary canvases which act as a backdrop, then I photograph them and digitally enhance the images as small numbered limited edition prints.
Electric guitars are the keys to rich rock memories and big music moments in people’s lives.
GUITART plugs into this deep-seated affection and combines the beauty, colour and style of guitars with original paintings to create unique art.
Some pieces produced over the last few years include guitars from well-known musicians such as Roger Glover ( Deep Purple), Eric Bell ( Thin Lizzy co-founder), Phil Palmer (Ex Dire Straits), Pete Briquette (The Boomtown Rats), Graham Parker, Brinsley Schwartz, these sit alongside emerging young bands such as the Chris King Robinson band.
How would you describe your creative process?
Always a build-up of many layers, and revisiting, adding and taking away.
Mainly in acrylics, with textures of sharp sand, glues, cotton, rust, with the use of oils, pastels and spray paints etc, either onto canvas or wood.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I guess in some ways I don’t have to search too much for the inspiration, I just really enjoy what I do. That said our constant visits to St Ives in Cornwall cannot but help with the inspiration. I always end up coming back from there with more ideas and vigour.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Luckily these days there isn’t too much of a typical day, but can often end up somewhere along these lines. In the mornings I usually try to care of the admin side of being an artist: uploading new images of work, copy, trips to the framers and gallery, packing, shipping etc.
I try to get into my studio around mid-afternoon and work on my various projects. If it’s summer time, I’ll paint outside. Then early evening either a bit of guitar playing/ learning new songs and band practice. And co-ordinating band diaries with rehearsals and gigs.
Which artists, living or deceased most inspire/influence your work?
I particularly admire Cornish based artists such as Mathew Lanyon, Anthony Frost, Glyn Macey and more local to me John Squire.
Do you like to listen to music when you create, if so what sort of music do you listen to?
Yes, I usually have music playing whilst painting. And mainly from my era of music 60’/70’s rock icons with a big element of blues – Cream, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who etc, mixed in with a touch of 90’S Indie. I have set up an old record player in my studio to revisit some old vinyl too.
If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?
Lol, I’m not quite sure I’m qualified to answer this one. There is so much art out there, so many artists. I guess you just got to do what you do, and enjoy it. Put the work into your own online presence, social media and online galleries etc, and the buzz really kicks in once you sell your first piece, (which is alwyas a good signt that people like your work) you’re on your way.
If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 guests, living or deceased who would they be and why?
Wow! This is a tough ask, could I cheat and have 3 categories please?
From the world of Music:
Eric Clapton, firstly because it was solely because of him it started my interest in all things creative. It all stemmed from here. And not forgetting to mention he’s an unbelievable gifted musician. He also introduced me to the world of Blues too. (speaking of which I would have to invite his mate Jimi Hendrix too) I recently visited Jimi’s old flat in Brook street London, where he lived in 1968. What an experience that was. Capped off in the evening watching Eric at the Albert hall, happy days.
From the world of Culture:
Michael Lang, Music concert promoter, producer and artistic manager. Best known for being the co-creator of one of the world’s greatest cultural landmark events in history the Woodstock music and arts festival in 1969. What vision and tenacity he had to make it happen. Inspirational to generations.
From the world of Comedy:
Frank Skinner, Bob Mortimer, Lee Mack and Paul Whitehouse. What a night that would be, side splitting laughter till the early hours. Geniuses.
What does the future look like for you?
More of the same I hope. We have a big trip planned in late August this year, Route 66.
I cannot wait for this and to visit some of the famous music venues on sunset strip in LA and blues clubs in Chicago. I’m sure all the Americana on the journey will find its way into my work.
View Shaun Keefe’s full gallery.