Art Asylum:  Tell us a little about yourself, your lifestyle / background?

Stolen: Hi I’m Stolen, of polish descent born in the east end of London. I’m 31 years old, have a gorgeous wife and two beautiful children. At university I trained as an Architect, day to day I head up the design collective Part4 productions. My philosophy is to work hard and play hard, enjoy the journey but don’t lose sight of the destination. I work across a range of media including 3d, moving image, print, paint and sculpture.

Art Asylum:  You went to school for Architecture, how did you move into the direction of art? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

Stolen: I studied at the Bartlett school of architecture, the course explored architecture through moving image. This led me into the world of animation, digital film and Jack Daniels, got lost somewhere on the way with several cans of Montana and some blank canvas’……. I’ve always been very creative and artistic, studying architecture focused my effectiveness in executing my ideas.

Art Asylum:  How did you come up with your name? Is there aspecific meaning or story behind it?

Stolen: It’s funny at the time I was thinking of a name, I got a call from the bank to say there was an irregular spend on my bank account, it turned out that I had been the victim of ID fraud, my identity had been stolen. I thought what a bizarre age we live in where people can actually steal something so personal, with my identity taken I became Stolen.

Art Asylum:  During the day you run a design collective called Part4, Can you share some insight into your daily work and how it may tie into your artwork?

Stolen: Working day to day in a very creative environment keeps my mind fresh, our work is heavily graphic, we have worked for the likes of Channel 4, CNN, Ideo, Future systems, Air, really varied multi-cross-media projects. I get to travel quite a bit and get to see lots of galleries, I tend to arrange meetings outside of the office somewhere creative like a Stolen: Observe, observe, observe, if I have learned one thing from architecture it is to look for the fine details in everything. I used to read a lot and watch tons of movies, have less time for that now but I keep an eye on the news and a few periodicals, I suppose it’s just part of my personality now.

gallery, or well designed bar. The type of work can vary from building websites, to branding to photorealistic visualization of interiors and buildings. There is still a very strong architectural influence in our work. Perhaps that’s why I like stencils over say painting a watercolours and oils.

Art Asylum:  How do you get inspiration for the pieces you create?

Stolen: Observe, observe, observe, if I have learned one thing from architecture it is to look for the fine details in everything. I used to read a lot and watch tons of movies, have less time for that now but I keep an eye on the news and a few periodicals, I suppose it’s just part of my personality now.

Art Asylum:  Can you share some insight into your process and the types of tools or media that you use?

Stolen: When I was 14 I invested in an airbrush, I was the only kid at school and college who used one, I liked it as it set me apart from everyone else. Airbrushing involves a lot of stenciling and I think this is perhaps why I chose/ like that as part of my process. Nowadays I can do with Photoshop in 1 hour what would take a week with an airbrush, I couldn’t live without Photoshop and when I’ve had enough computer time I get out the canvas and spray cans, tend to test ideas on canvas before investing time in screen printing. Testing is either In the form of postcards/ stickers or high quality photo prints.

Art Asylum:  In your opinion what has been your best creation to date and why?

Stolen: Storm0001 was probably the most popular in terms of sales it was my first print of the unemployed stormtrooper, in terms of the one I have most enjoyed would be a new print loosely based on several Disney characters, it’s not been released yet but makes me laugh every time I return to complete it. I remember taking a photo of the spineless piece I stenciled an old building in Seville several years back, I had it printed, signed it and then listed it on ebay, I thought that some fan out there would like it but ended up with about 70 bids, testing on ebay has always been very useful for getting an idea of popularity and how much to sell for. Although in the current economic climate I wouldn’t recommend it.

Art Asylum:  When creating art what part of the creating process do you find to be the most fun and easy? What is most difficult?

Stolen: Drawing up the plates in illustrator is dead slow and dead boring as is cutting stencils, best bit is pulling the first screen print or pulling away the stencil to reveal what’s below. Stenciling is a bit of an art, when I first started I made some hilarious mistakes.

Art Asylum:  What are some of the things that you do to keep growing creatively?

Stolen: My wife, my children, prayer, exercise, and alcohol.

Art Asylum:  As some may or may not know, you also make abstract digital films under the name Visual Vitamin, can you explain a bit about your digital films?

Stolen: During my final stages of my architectural studies at the Bartlett I made several abstract films using 3d animation about a space I called the ideal city which was based on superstrings theory, heaven and renaissance architecture. I was spotted by a scout at OneDotZero film festival and they showcased my films, I also made the front cover of Design Week that month. After being screened at the festival I got loads of cover from other festivals, I went on to produce work for Channel 4 ideas factory, it was a lot of work and late nights. I am in discussions with a gallery about a possible future show for the Vitamin, all very exciting.

Art Asylum:  You work in a variety of mediums, i.e. painting, film, design. How did you educate yourself to become so well versed in creative control and process?

Stolen: All self taught out of necessity, for instance I couldn’t afford a website so I learned flash and Dreamweaver, to be honest I’ve been involved with computers since I was a very young.

Art Asylum:  What are three things that you need to help you get into the creating process? (Certain music, time of day, etc)

Stolen: Only two – Coffee and my laptop.

Art Asylum:  Who are some artists that inspire you, dead or alive?

Stolen: Michelangelo, Dali, Dante, Brunelleschi, and Palladio. I have to admit I went to the recent Banksy show in Bristol, and it was amazing. I love to collect screen prints and have managed to get some great ones over the years.

Art Asylum:  What do you want people to walk away with after looking at your paintings? Does it matter to you?

Stolen: Art and architecture is so subjective, I used to get so worried about what my tutors would think at university, then I thought “f**k it, I like what I’m making and enjoy what I’m doing”, I think I developed confidence in my work and the tutors stopped being so critical. I know artists that have wanted to kill themselves after reading bad reviews on blogs, what’s the point. I would say that I hope to provoke a reaction, if someone just walked past and ignored my work then I would feel like I failed.

Art Asylum: For an artist with a specific style, Do you see your art work drastically changing in the future?

Stolen: I don’t think so, I am getting a little more political and provocative with new work, perhaps that’s just my coming of age.

Art Asylum:  Tell us a story that might be interesting, or relate to your growth as an artist or as a human being (as if there’s a way to separate the two).

Stolen: When I was at college I had to take life drawing classes (nudes), it was the funniest thing I’ve ever done. Now you have to imagine this was a state run college so the nude models were not getting paid, when I walked into the room and saw a 70 year old man standing there naked, holding his little shriveled penis in one hand and a sword pointing towards the ceiling in the other I immediately burst out laughing, so much so that my eyes were watering and I was almost sick in my mouth. Once I managed to compose myself I realized how important these lessons were in developing my skills as an artist, I think if you can draw from life in 3 minutes and hold your composure you can draw anything. I’ll never forget another model who had 6 toes, where did our teachers find these people, we were convinced they were homeless people he had picked up off the street.

Art Asylum:  How do you go about naming a particular piece, are the paintings based around a concept or the concept based on the paintings? Which originates first?

Stolen: I’ll think of something and then start working it up as soon as I can, I’ll know as soon as the pen hits paper or whatever medium is to hand whether it will work or whether to can it. My wife’s opinion is very important to me and often ill talk through ideas with her before completing them, she is very pragmatic and tells it how it is.

Art Asylum:  What other interests do you have besides art? What do you do for fun? If given the choice to skip work for a day how would you spend your day?

Stolen: As I work almost every minute, I spend any spare time with my children. I think I may need to buy a pipe soon, ha ha. I tell you as we have just had our second baby I would love to skip children for a day and head into central London, eat sushi and drink cocktails then stay in a hotel and have a full night’s sleep – that would be fun!

Art Asylum:  If you could share anything with your readers that they do not already know about you what would it be?

Stolen: I am very handy with a hammer, in fact all tools, I love DIY. Have made some furniture and lights in the past when I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted.

Art Asylum:  Where do you see yourselves going from here, what is the focus or goal for your art in the future?

Stolen: To have some of my work hanging the Tate, ha ha, no I pledge to carry on producing as much art as I can for as long as I can.

Art Asylum:  What is in the future for Stolen, any gallery shows, upcoming projects etc. What do we have to look forward to for the upcoming year 2010?

Stolen: Well a very kind gallery has invited me to exhibit at their forthcoming show ‘Art strikes back’ in November. Following that I have 2 new prints for 2010, my first ‘Leia’ will be unveiled at the show in Boston as a limited edition postcard, the full size screen print will follow. Second print will be coming out in March. I am following up interest from several other leads. I also aim to have the website back online before the November exhibition and promise to keep it updated.


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