Weekly interview #9 - Scott Mitchell

I was born in Derby, England and graduated with a BA Hons in Illustration from Lincoln University in 2010. Since graduating I have been focusing on selling portraits both of celebrities and people’s family members along side my illustration paintings.

I work almost exclusively with acrylic paint, either on canvas for the portraits, or wood for the illustrations. 

What got you started? What keeps you in?

I’ve been drawing and painting as long as I can remember. My interest in painting most likely stemmed from my family, my mother paints regularly and my grandfather used to too.  I eventually decided it was something I wouldn’t mind doing for a living, despite being pretty awful back then, although I guess you always think your older work is bad.

As far as staying in goes, other than the obvious answer of enjoying painting I’d say I love knowing people have got my paintings on their walls across the world. It still seems pretty crazy to me that I have sold far more out of England than in, but I guess that’s the power of the internet. I’d love to have a painting on every continent one day, even if I had to do some for free to get to that stage. I really appreciate some of the responses I get when people receive their paintings, so that’s a good feeling too. I still worry when I first show people their painting though - just whether it’s up to their expectations or not!

What/who inspires you? In what way?

I’m get really inspired whenever I see anything I find especially impressive. I’m like, ‘Damn that’s impressive, I wanna do that!’. Sometimes if I’m getting fed up of painting I’ll just look at some cool work and I’ll want to get back to painting and improve myself.

As far as specific artists go, for my portrait side of things I’d have to go with Sebastian Kruger, he paints in acrylic too which is rare for portrait artists. His work tends to be caricatures of famous people, in various ranges of exaggeration, but they are painted so realistically it really blows my mind. His paintings are huge; I only paint around 16”x20” and would like to see how one I’d done would look that size, I’m really slow at painting so I dread to think how long it’d take though.

For my more illustrative pieces it’s got to be Jeff Soto, I love how he includes a lot of design elements in his paintings while keeping them rendered incredibly well. I’d always hoped one day I’d be able to paint as well as he does, then I saw some of his more recent stuff the other day it’s got ten times more detailed. I guess you always need something to aspire to.

What is art for you? Examples of "real art"?

This is a discussion I truly hate. People go around in circles around in circles trying to define what they constitute as true art, which I find very elitist. Art to me is anything that was intended to be such. Something can still be art even most people see it as bad art. People are always going to like different things so to exclude something from being art based on your own personal preferences seems rather self absorbed. I’ll stop talking about this now before it turns into a rant!

The most powerful/your favourite medium: picture, words, sounds? Anything else?

I wouldn’t say any medium was more powerful than another. There are people who are creating powerful pieces in all mediums; I feel it’s more what you do with it rather than what you do it with. 

As far as my favourite however I’d have to go with acrylic or oil paint as they’re something I can relate too, I like getting up close to a painting so I can see where and why the artist chose to apply the paint in that particular area. I feel acrylic gets a bad rep as being too hard to achieve complex results with so I like it when an artist like Sebastian Kruger as I mentioned earlier, comes and proves the naysayers wrong.

Plans for future (of your work)?

I’d like to add something a little more creative into my portraits, maybe to exaggerate slight features, but while still keeping them far away from being a caricature. They’ve helped me improve technically a lot so I only think it’s far to try and improve creatively as well.

I’d love to get back to working on illustrations again too, I’ve just completed one and it was a welcome change. I’d quite like to look at doing some weird creature (as most of my stuff seems to feature) but painted as realistic as I could make it. I don’t get any time to work on anything for myself these days so I’ll just have to hope someone commissions me for something like that!

Anything you'd like to add? Maybe a song, a picture, hello to friends and family?

Just thanks for the interview and that I feel really privileged to be featured alongside the great artists you’ve interviewed in the past. If anyone likes you can check out my website here, or my facebook page here

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