Artist of the Month: Olly Fathers

April’s Artist of the Month is painter, Olly Fathers. Olly graduated with a fine art degree from Wimbledon College of art in 2010 and currently lives and works in Brixton.

Olly’s work investigates how man made structures contribute to the way we perceive, judge and negotiate our positions in space.

Olly has featured in several shows and taken on commissions and collaborative works including Harder Edge exhibition at the Hospital Club and Saatchi gallery (Nov 2018 – Jan 2019); a large wall mural for the Jealous Gallery rooftop mural project; a shop front installation with We Built This City on Carnaby street as part of London Festival (Aug 2017) and a recent commission for the ITV Creates series.

We sat down with Olly to explore his work as he explores the subconscious interaction between people and objects, resulting in a visual journey inspired by architecture, people and the city he now calls home. Watch the video in full now and read on to find out more about Olly Fathers.

Take us through the lifespan of creating a work of art
It really varies but for most I don’t often have a clear plan of exactly how it will look at the end. For a painting that involves dripping paint around the blocks for instance I see it in stages.

1. Cutting wood and shaped blocks
2. Building panels and then laying down blocks and spending time arranging where I think they could work well
3. Glue the blocks down
4. Get the panels sprayed
5. Decide what colours I want to use, then mix all the colours using acrylic and secret mix of mediums
6. Start dripping paint and then I usually come up with some kind of system where I’ll do a certain amount of drips in each direction, then asses how its looking. After this I’ll apply some new rules to the system and repeat doing this until I get that feeling its had enough and is finished.

How does material/medium inform your practice?
I’ve worked for over 10 years now perfecting the viscosity of the paint I use to drips around the surface of my paintings. I do this using a mixture of acrylic paint and mediums which is a very important part of my practice. I actually contacted the paint and medium manufacturer to speak to their technical team. I explained what I was mixing and how I was using the paint to see if they had they had any more advice or tips to. I was quite pleased though when they told me they thought I had perfected it and couldn’t recommend anything better.

How has your work developed over time?
I’ve been refining my practice more and more. Some of the ideas have been remained along similar lines but I’ve worked a lot on making the finish of the pieces better and I feel over the last few years I’ve got some of the paintings to a point where I can’t make them any better now in a technical sense.

Having achieved that its led me to explore other ways of making works and I’m now trying to learn new techniques to make work with.

Has any place or environment affected your work?
Being in cities all over the place. I love just watching people move around and how they interact with man made obstacles.

What artists have influenced your practice?
When I was younger at university I helped an artist called Danny Rolph in his studio for a couple of years. I really liked his work and being in his studio and seeing how he worked was pretty inspirational. It made me realize you don’t have to over analyse things too much and that down to earth “normal” people could be artists.

Another one which sticks in my mind is Fred Sandback. I remember going to the Dia Beacon gallery near New York on a university trip and there was a Fred Sandback installation. All pieces made from minimal strands of string that were displayed in ways replicating everyday shapes such as doorways or triangles in the corner of rooms. I’ll never forget walking though this doorway made from string and having a feeling as if I was mischievously entering a different room whilst fully aware was just a piece a string in a big white space. It was a strange feeling but just resonated the power of geometric form and lines.

You were recently selected to create an ITV Ident – please tell us about your experience. What inspired your work?
We were given a brief and the work had to incorporate the ITV logo. I wanted to use my drip painting but always planned for the focus to be on the filming of the drips rather than the finished logo.

How did the medium of television effect your work?
From the initial proposal I thought of this as a piece of video art, rather than an ITV logo in my style. I wanted the majority of the clips to be close ups of the drips making their way around the shapes building up to a revealing shot of the logo.

I’m often the only person to see the beauty of the paint flowing around the shapes so it was great to have an amazing film crew capturing those moments so well.

What’s the last exhibition you saw that made an impact on you?
James Alec Hardy’s exhibition called Yggdrasil at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery. It was in an amazing space which he had really taken advantage of and made this quite incredible immersive installation.

What art do you, or would you, collect?
I’ve got mainly prints at the moment because its more in my price bracket! But I have swapped a few works with other artists and will be looking to do that more.

What is the most memorable piece of art you have produced?
Probably the painting which I showed at the Saatchi gallery early this year. It’s the biggest one I have made of that kind, It took the longest and was the most challenging but all those things made it more pleasing once it was finished.

Tell us about your dream project
Going BIG. I would love make a massive public artwork of some kind.

What would you do if you weren’t an artist?
Carpenter, engineer or ideally footballer.

Where can we see your work next?
I’m doing a large mural for the entrance of The Other Art Fair from 4th – 7th of July at Kings Cross near Granary Square. It’s an exciting opportunity and I’m working in collaboration with an artist called James Rogers. We’re going to make an app that uses augmented reality with the mural creating a completely new dimension to the work and making into an immersive art experience.

About ARTIQ Meet the Artists
ARTIQ Meet the Artists was developed to reflect a notable milestone for ARTIQ, following the signing of the 200th to the ARTIQ roster. The ARTIQ Meet the Artists video series celebrates the breadth and diversity of the artists that we support and represent and offers artists, clients and art lovers a behind the scenes look into the ideas and inspiration behind some of our artists’ greatest works.
Watch our video series in full here: