The internationally recognized London-based artist Dean Rossiter takes us along on a ride through his journey during this difficult time.
Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself, your artwork, and the first piece you’ve ever sold?
A: Sure, I’m an internationally emerging artist born and raised just outside of London in one of the U.K’s provincial industrial towns. My work spans painting, collage and photography and deals with themes ranging from social isolation, consumption, the attitudes of contemporary society and arts purpose in the digital world.
I had my first exhibition in 2016. Having graduated a few months earlier from a university which wasn’t one of the famous London art schools, I felt completely isolated from the UK art scene and nobody was interested in exhibiting my work. In response to this, I organized my own exhibition and sold out the show in its opening weekend. Since then I have gone on to exhibit at the Louvre for the 2019 Paris Salon and I now regularly exhibit with galleries and museums throughout London, New York, Miami, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Q: With everything that is happening this year especially during this pandemic, how has that affected your art? What are the kind of challenges you are facing and how do you continue to find inspiration and motivation?
A: Needless to say the pandemic has affected things but it’s also brought a new lease of life into my work and it’s been an incredibly productive time. I am just coming to the end of two completely different bodies of work and I honestly can’t remember a time I was this productive. Being stuck inside has certainly helped with this.
I think the biggest challenge artists now face has to do with getting the work out there in a non-physical context. Luckily the internet has made this easier but the decision I made right at the start of the pandemic was to venture into limited edition giclée prints of my work. Because my work deals with themes of engagement and escapism it’s important to me that my work remains accessible even in the lockdown. Given the nature of this pandemic I like to think art can offer some form of hope and allow our minds to escape even if only for a moment.
Q: What are you currently working on and what do we hope to see in the future?
A: I am just coming to the end of two new bodies of work both of which have been made during lockdown and in many ways have been informed by our new paradigm. These new works have really taken my practice into new territory and the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
One of these series is a collection of original portrait collages which explore theme of isolation, consumption and the contradictory attitudes of contemporary society. The other is a series of original documentary photographs of the BLM protests. With this body of work I want to put the viewer in the role of the spectator and force them to engage with the scenarios and context at hand.
In terms of the future I am in the process of partnering up with a charity and using my art to help underprivileged children in South America. I’m also getting ready to release these two new bodies of work whilst discussing corporate projects throughout Europe, Asia and America.
Q: Tell us about the people who have the greatest influence in your work.
A: It’s not a terribly exciting answer but my family have always influenced my work more than anything. Don’t get me wrong my work draws inspiration from a variety of sources including advertising, music and social media but the greatest influence has always been my family.
From a very young age my family installed a strict belief that hard work, perseverance and above all a desire to take accountability for one’s own choices could allow you to live life on your own terms. Growing up in this working class background and the people that have been there from the start will always be my greatest influence.
Q: Describe to us a busy working day.
A: A typical working day for me starts at 6am and I start by answering my emails. Because I work with galleries and museums throughout Europe, Asia and America, communication is crucial and getting ahead of the curve and taking care of these when I’m most fresh has become a strict routine.
After an hour or so I then start to schedule my day, this can range from meetings with my agents to collectors and of course less glamorous things such as preparing shipments and ordering materials.
I also own an art academy and a photographic PR business so I always touch base with my team at the start of the day and work the demands of those two businesses around the demands of my art.
This usually takes me up to midday where I start engaging with my artwork, I can spend the afternoons reviewing the work I have made the day or week before and I use this time to analyze what it is I am making and how the work is developing. I also use this time to experiment, research and to test out new ideas. If I have meetings in the afternoon with collectors or project managers I tend to discuss my experiments and have an active dialogue around the development of my work. I find this really useful.
I don’t typically start making anything concrete until the late afternoon or early evening. Usually around 4:00pm or 6:00pm when the day is coming to a close for most people this is when I start up again and feel most focused. I tend to lose myself in my work until around 12:00am or 1:00am at the latest. After which I tend to go to bed, recharge and get ready to start again the next day.
Q: What advice would you have for aspiring artists? What factors do you think have contributed to your success?
A: My best piece of advice would be to find mentors both in and outside of the art world who you look up too and who you feel you can learn from. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some amazing role models who have offered me advice and varying perspectives in the early days of my career with one in particular becoming a patron for a time.
Beyond this my advice is simple, just keep on going and don’t compare yourself to anyone. There’s this toxic culture which social media has created where people feel the need to compare themselves constantly. Don’t do it! Understand that art and being an artist is a way of life and that we all have our own races to run. Self-belief and a genuine love for what you do has a way of making what seems impossible completely possible.