David Shrigley Interview with Juxtapoz Magazine
01 Jun 2023
Every year, Jealous aims to release a number of David Shrigley limited edition screenprints, alongside the numerous screenprints we print for the galleries that represent the artist. It's always lovely to see Jealous mentioned in an article by an artist we work with, and we were thrilled to see our name pop up in Juxtapose for their summer issue. What a treat! We've only mentioned a snippet of the interview below, so please make sure to check out the full article by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
Evan Pricco: How many interviews do you think you have done over the last 30 years?
David Shrigley: A lot? The fact that the video wasn't working when we first got on wasn't really bothering me that much. It was the fact that I couldn't find my little book that I doodle in while I'm on Zoom calls, and I still can't find it; I have no idea where it is. I've actually realized that I'm actually a bit of an obsessive-compulsive.
I would assume you would be a tad obsessive-compulsive.
Yeah, I am a bit. I mean, I realize it's not as helpful as it is unhelpful, you know what I mean? There are things where I get a bit agitated because I can't find my special notebook. But then again, the fact that I have a notebook is kind of interesting. So that's good.
What comes first: the line or the image?
The line, the text of the image. Well… actually the image comes first. There are four stages.
The first stage is I look through the numerous books on my bookshelf, or mostly nowadays I look on the internet for images. And then I find images I think are interesting, and often I’m trying to find things that I've never drawn or painted a picture of before. There are not actually that many themes in the world. And I describe the image. I write down what the image is, like a crocodile holding a child's arm or something, and I write that down.
Once it's time to draw, to paint, I look that up again, and normally I can't remember what it looked like. Then I make a drawing and then I go back to it afterward, usually adding some text to it. So that's usually the way it works: there's image, text, text, image. And usually, the image comes first. But there are layers of me trying to deceive myself or trying to forget what I was originally inspired by.
I don't really have a sketchbook as such. I just have books with some very crude drawings that are sort of memory aids. Because I am, as it turns out, slightly obsessive-compulsive. I don't like drawing. The first line has to be the last line if you know what I mean. I can't redo anything. I can't make a preparatory sketch unless it's sort of in a two-centimeter square in the corner of this book. Once this book is finished, there's loads more books like it.
As you were painting in the studio today, do you still bring a massive amount of joy to it? When you're saying that you have to, at times, motivate yourself a little bit, do you still get that feeling of enjoyment this many years into your career?
Yeah, I think. But one thing I say very often is, well there's a couple of things I say, but my own personal motivational statement is: just get on with it. I have this written on the little cards stuck to the wall in the studio. Just get on with it. If you just get on with it, the work makes itself. So it doesn't matter, meaning that, even when you're kind of depressed or you're feeling really fed up and you just don't want to do anything, just do it anyway. But also at the same time, I try to treat every day as if it's my first day. Maybe it's my first day at art school where everything is just exciting, different, and new, and I can do whatever I want and it's totally fine.
But I guess the secret is to fully embrace it. So when it's going well in the studio, and I work five days a week and usually two days a week are really, really good. Two days are a bit of a grind, so, on the fourth day, I get home early. I go home early and take the dog for a walk and smoke weed. So in answer to that question, it is, yeah, it is really exciting. But you have to embrace the opportunity and I have to remind myself that I can do anything I want. And if you don't want to do it, you don't have to do it, it's fine.
But you do have to do something. I am also kind of miserable if I don't make any art. I mean I'm happy if I can read all day, then I'm quite happy. And I like going to see music, going to see bands. I like going to see football matches, soccer. But still, I kind of have to make some art, otherwise, I'm just a bit miserable. I really love doing that. When I paint a picture, I have a memory of being five years old at school, the first year of school where they just give you some paints and a piece of paper and you just paint a picture. Just be there for an hour. Or if you're a child, it is probably five minutes. But it feels the same. And in my mind, the piece of paper that I was working on at that age is the same size as the piece of paper I'm working on now. It probably isn't, but I was tiny then. But it's the same thrill where you can do anything you like. You can paint anything you like and you can say anything you like. And that is an immense privilege. The privileged position that I find myself in.
Visit the Shrig Shop at shrigshop.com for all Shrigley products, and David sends a thank you to Jealous Gallery, who makes his prints.