Tuesday, 2 December 2014

VIDA now launched

I've been fairly active on my Facebook group promoting these but have somehow my blog fell by the wayside so I'm just updating you (whoever you may be) on all progress since my last past.

VIDA was launched last a few weeks ago and seems to be going pretty well with plenty of press attention etc.  Though to be fair they are selling some very lovely products not just my own.  It's all very exciting and strange for me to be entering the glossy fashion business but it's also very enjoyable and enriching.  

I got an exciting email today alerting me that the first design pictured has been listed as one of the top 30 products to gifts this season in Fashion Times - scroll down to the third image, just below the torn up jeans and the gold watch.  There it is.  The same image you can see just below. 

For simplicity if you are wanting to buy any of the currently released products I've tied a link in to each image so just click on the image your interested in and it will take you straight to the product. Alternatively feel free to view the full collection here http://shopvida.com/collections/garth-simmons

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

VIDA prelaunch

VIDA are launching this month and there website is currently in it's prelaunch phase.  So you can sign up to the website and if you share the website with your friends you'll get free credits with which to buy lots of cool products (like the t shirt in the image).  It's all looking very snazzy and polished so far and it's been a very interesting few months watching it develop without having to take much action myself. 

VIDA are already creating quite a buzz in the fashion industry and have been featured in Fashion TimesApparel NewsFashionista, Wall Street Journal, Tech Crunch, amongst others.... also VIDA has been funded $1.3 million from the likes of Universal Music and Google Ventures.... so it's all suddenly starting sound very pretty impressive. 

I've not much more to add at this point but there will be more news coming up soon when VIDA launch properly later this month.  You should certainly sign up to their website in the meantime and share with your friends.  With each friend you recommend more money goes towards teaching literacy to residents of third world countries.  So I'm not just promoting this for selfish reasons.

Until next time here are a few zoomed in segments of some of my upcoming products.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

VIDA scarf design launch

January this year I started to make a concerted effort to turn my art into pattern design.  It was during a week when I was bedridden with bladder stones and a very long and particularly debilitating migraine.  At the time I didn't really imagine much would come of the patterns, I was probably too delirious and in pain to actually think at all.  Anyway in my feverish Yeats like death-delirium (''can I please see Isabella one more time before I die?'') I managed to produce vast amounts of patterns, all derived from the various collages and drawings I've been producing over the last ten years.  I've been really surprised and pleased with the amount of opportunities my week long migraine has produced. 

The large amount of interest and the amount of productivity has now been verified in physical form by the complimentary scarves I received in the post a few weeks ago.  They are sample scarves that I designed for a new company called Vida who are based in San Francisco. Vida are a very nice company who's objective is to sell printed fabric designs using artists from a wide variety of countries, giving them a worldwide cultural aesthetic.  Also they are very generous and caring and ethical in regards to their workers in Karachi and Pakistan where they are teaching them literacy courses and skills leading towards better career opportunities.  Anyway it all sounds very nice and you can read more and look at all the other scarves here: http://www.shopvida.com/ - at the moment the website is in preview stage but you can request a code very easily and still make a purchase.  Also you should like them on their Facebook page. I'll be posting more on Vida as it occurs.  

Onto the actual designs themselves:  this first one is derived from a notebook drawing I made whilst working at the Manchester City Council's contact centre (quite a loathsome place). The drawings are very architectural but also very, biological, medical and tooth-like.  I like that it has been drawn on graph paper and you see the subtle outlines of squares within the pattern.  So it's like the mess of our lives is all organised into some painful hell like geometry.....  Hmmm....  perhaps a normal person would have a nicer way of analyzing it.  

This next scarf is derived from a section of a collage produced from my own notebooks interspersed with colored card and highlighter penned sections.  It's a very sharp and fractured image.  All the text is completely cut up which allows for new meanings to emerge in a very counter cultural collage fashion.  Despite this the pattern itself somehow intuitively takes the shape of a junkyard or perhaps the ruin of a building, you can see the skeleton of a support structure poking out through the wreckage.  Or perhaps it's a broken bridge leading nowhere.  This one does look outstanding on the actual scarf and what is very striking on the physical product is the way it inverts halfway up the image.  It's a very startling and eye catching contrast when seen in print and I wasn't expecting it to be so bold but the wonderful thing with collaboration is that it opens up all new pathways of surprise.

I think that each scarf has managed to represent some separate and important aspect of my work over the last 10 years.  The first is drawing, the second the integration of written text and image, then this one takes on the qualities of work that I actually sell the most of - ie. work which has a recognizable landscape.  As in a sky and terrain and some kind of correlation between the two, but also a visual defiance and illogic so the images still portray in an intangible, unvisitable null space.  Voids reclusive of actual reality and therefore escaping the trap of being representative but also drawing in the viewer to build their own interpretation through what is prompting the imagination.....  hmmm.... this paragraph has probably been one of my most sustained and lengthiest attempts at ''art speak''. Although perhaps my longest and most sustained period of art speak has actually been the last 10 years of my life.  

Apologies that I've not as of yet taken any photographs of the scarves received.  The friend I was going to ask to wear them has been away on holiday so it's not something I've gotten around to.  The selfies I've taken of myself in them are pretty rocking but the problem with those is that I'm worried that my big, slack jawed head would likely detract from the greatness of the craftsmanship and designs of the scarves themselves.  Anyway as mentioned above I'll be posting more news as it occurs.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Front Row Society Contest

I've entered a scarf design competition for Front Row Society.  These online contests are mostly a popularity contest rather than being judged by the merit of the work itself, therefore I have to ask all my friends to vote for me through links I'll be posting on Facebook and on this blog entry.  I doubt I'll have enough clicks to actually win as I imagine there will be other designers on the website who will have more time to post links all over social media all day and everyday.  Then again, who knows?  There's no point in not trying and my hubris tells me I deserve to win.  

I'm going to do some more blogging but first I'd like you to click on the below images or links, one by one, and vote for each image.  Perhaps an emotional blackmail campaign strategy is the best way to win this contest... Here goes....  

If you don't vote for all my images then you are not my friend. So please vote. 



So now that you've done that... or you probably haven't... or you might have done... though you probably didn't.... but you should... though you won't... not that it matters much.... except it does... but it shouldn't. Anyway now that you've done that (or haven't) I thought I'd write a little bit more about the images. I don't know if I best represented them with my writing on the Front Row website.  I said something about 80s sci fi films like Bladerunner being some kind of influence but that was simply a way of fitting in with the Modernist theme of the contest.  80s science fiction is the event horizon of modernism (though Event Horizon was actually a 90s sci fi film) bringing the lofty ideals and logic of early modernist utopias into gritty decaying dystopias.  

All well and good but really I'm not sure that it has anything to do with my work.  We are a product of our culture (or at least that's something we can use an excuse for being the terrible people) so perhaps by having a childhood steeped in science fiction did influence my outlook
and visual aesthetic... but if it did it only did it on a very subconscious level.  So in the description on the website I am effectively lying.  I didn't realize this at the time so when I typed it I convinced myself it was true, I was even lying to myself.  I convinced myself that it sounded good and that it would give people a context with which to understand it.

Does this mean that everything I ever write could be a lie?  Am I telling the truth about what I'm writing right now?  Is that actually possible for me, or for anyone?  Is the truth so mutable that it can only define one moment therefore making all promises into lies?  What was true isn't anymore.  Soon the truth will be something else.  Therefore I need to know what is actually reliable?  I can't even rely upon myself to be able to define exactly what it is I'm thinking or what it is that I actually want.  Sadly it goes much deeper than that... MY truth is something in a different language that only I can speak but I've completely unable to understand.  I'm dislocated into a fiction.  I've gotten to a point where all my dreams are actually just shapes and colours.  People don't factor into anything anymore. 

You'll notice that there are images images interspersed throughout my pitiful ranting.  These are close ups of the scarf designs.  You can actually click on these and vote for me in a contest (as mentioned above).  Perhaps if I win then the truth might become much less mutable for me.  Life will become a little more solid and reliable and I might stop telling lies about Bladerunner.  

At this point you might be reminded of an X Factor contestant talking about his/her dead relatives or the fact they have to work in a dead end job and live in a really rubbish flat.  

Well guess what?  I have dead relatives.  Very dead relatives.  I also work in a dead end job and live in a very rubbish flat.  I have a cat to feed as well.  He is called Claude and by caring him I demonstrate that I have the ability to love and I that I am not a scary psychopath.  

I think if you have not already done so then you should vote for me.  All five of my images. I irrefutably deserve it what with me being so hard done by.  I can tell you another reason why I'm hard done by, and this one will put you on a real guilt trip and have you desperate to vote for me.  The main reasons that my existence is so wretched is YOU. It's actually all you're fault.  Every last one of you.

Though don't stay in your guilt trip for too long because guess what?!  I forgive you all.  My weakness is my strength.  My compassion is me and I will heal you all with my love and empathy.  But only if I win this contest.

So after reading all of this then you should realize that voting for me in this contest is possibly the most important thing you could ever do in your entire life.  All your mistakes and missteps so far will be just fine if you click on the links and then click like... also I think you have to log in to the website using Facebook.  Anyway what are you waiting for?  Stop reading this and get clicking on those links.

Have you done it yet?  Come on.  It's free to vote.  There's really no reason why you shouldn't and every reason imaginable as to why you really, really should.  God is watching and he thinks that you should vote for me.  I think he's right.  You think he is right too.  Don't you?  Yes.  You do.  Well go on then.  Get voting. For me.

(It's worth noting that this contest is a legitimate contest and not actually just a popularity contest, so that means that even if I don't get to the top by voting I am still in with a chance of winning via selection of the staff at Front Row Society.  Though that's not an excuse for not voting).

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The unquantified non process

I have been working in a new temp job for the past 4 weeks where I was answering calls from schools who were uploading the results for their National Curriculum Assessments.  It was an incredibly quiet job so I got lots of time for incredibly productive daydreaming and drawing.  It's the most I've ever been paid to sit around and doodle and daydream.  I've compiled these drawings and daydreams into a kind of psychological narrative, and also colored them in digitally.  I wouldn't call it a comic or a story but more of a historical scroll.  Anyway see what you think and please don't take it too seriously.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Society 6

Recently uploaded some images onto Society 6.  Which is an interesting idea, basically I upload old images and website pays for them to be printed onto merchandise like cups and phone cases and prints so I don't have to make the effort or put any of my very lacking finances into printing costs and materials.  You'll notice I'm experimenting with an advert banner at the top of this blog, I may get rid of that if I start to find it aesthetically irritating.

I think this could be seen as selling out but then I didn't have anything to sell out of in the first place. My dignity, ideas and general individuality isn't at all damaged by being on this website and if I start to make a bit of extra money to pay for cat food then that's all well and good.  It's early days yet so this is just a little experiment although admittedly I do think the merchandise does look pretty cool and that every household should have a Garth Simmons tea mug.  That might sound slightly egotistical but for the people who know me it's the exact attitude they would likely expect.  In this business you have to constantly bolster your self confidence, passion and determination otherwise you become all flailing and mournful.

So buy my things and then my self confidence might not feel quite as misplaced as it does when I think about it rationally.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Eight Day Cafe Exhibition until 30th June

Last weekend I put up lots of work at the Eight Day Cafe in Manchester.  I'll put the essential information about the location of the cafe and the dates;

Eight Day Cafe
111 Oxford Road
M1 7DU

Exhibition finishes on 30th June.

Please come along and enjoy and maybe buy some pictures.  That would be nice.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Critical Analysis of Garth Simmons' Submitted Artwork to the Barbican Art Prize 2014

(with interjections by Garth Simmons)

Garth Simmons is submitting the following artwork to the Barbican Trust Art Prize 2014.  He has added his own thoughts to this process in the smaller italic text though I advise the reader to ignore this.  The larger text that you are reading now is more academic, impartial and all in all an attempt to make this article less disconnected from the personal politics and thoughts of the artist.  Once art is viewed by the public it is no longer the possession of the artist.  Words of the artist should not dictate and dilute what the artwork itself conveys and the artwork should be able to speak for itself allowing the viewer's interpretation of the work to take absolute precedence.  

Unfortunately the typical viewer of art cannot be trusted to always have a worthwhile or valid opinion.  So Art Historians like myself are required to skew your perceptions so you think exactly what you are supposed to think therefore creating a consensus opinion which can then be taken as fact.  I will tell you, the viewer, what is the best opinion to have.  Please feel free to share my conclusions as if they are your own.  You will be able to massively impress your friends with your intellectualism.

I've made some larger artwork again.  One of the many joys and benefits of being unemployed is that you get more time to be creative.  I also get lots of time to stare into nothingness. Unemployment has allowed me to adapt my life into an impenetrable (or less penetrable) self contained compartment.  I now live in a concrete bubble of furniture and disarrayed objects and I have to schedule my own days to make them as productive as possible.  Productivity can be very difficult as it is tempting to just have a really good stare into space.  Last night I smoked about five roll ups whilst watching the Greatest Moments of Billy Mitchell from EastEnders on YouTube.  

The pursuits that sidetrack me don't have much relation to real life aside from doing my fair share of job hunting, interviews and psychometric tests, aside from this I don't tend to interact much with the real world or keep up with any news.  Whilst I have been in my compartment planes have been disappearing and an entire schools worth of Nigerian girls have been kidnapped and turned into slaves. The world continues its criminal spin outside my window and in all my spare time I have done nothing to intervene.  I have simply been having lots of fun and expressing my inner spaces through my collage and pattern making.  I have been incredibly self serving.

This piece is called ''Vocalization of a Broken Chasm''.  It's a quintessential Garth Simmons artwork perhaps a culmination of various themes that Garth has been exploring for the past few years.  Marrying the convergence of lines towards a central point with a vaster texture of self generated notebooks, drawings and prints.  Conveying his usual rootless existentialism and attempting to convey a large sense of everything all at once.  It has no real context in collage history and is more in line with 1950s Abstract Expressionism but Garth has not contextualised his sources appropriately and therefore this bears no continuity with previous works of abstraction. For example, Pollock achieved his expression through movements of his body interacting with the paint and the brush creating honest sweeping expressions from within.  This is not achievable with the primitive art medium which is collage, Collage is sticking and pasting.  The expressionism that Garth is attempting to adopt into his work is completely false.  In many of his writings on this blog Garth claims he is just making things up has he goes along.  This leads me to conclude as fact that Garth's cognitive artistic ability is less of that of a chimpanzee putting the right shapes into the right slots on a psychometric test. Therefore I assume that Garth's creative abilities and talent are a fallacy.  He could be consider an outsider artist if he had not studied art at University, so due to this contradiction critically I can only conclude that Garth is never an artist or an outsider but more on a dull interloper caught between the working and the middle class.  A sad product of the 1980s miners' strike in Yorkshire.  If not for Margaret Thatcher Garth would be working respectably as a coal miner.

There have been periods of keeping this blog that I have written posts every week just to keep the notion of myself alive and to make it appear that my creative persona really was something of importance.   Both my persona and person are very important to me and I exist somewhere between the two of them so my internal world is pretty complicated.  An awful lot of self analysis, like a DVD commentary is playing inside my head and criticizing the way I run for the bus or fry an egg.  I do wonder if everyone thinks like this and has discussions running back and forth between their multiple aspects.  I have tried to relate this experience of separation to people and see if multiple threads of thoughts of sustained in other people’s heads.  Although obviously everyone else has their own unique way of thinking.  Their consciousnesses are just as multi layered and important and I do recognize that each and every living thing has the potential for complications in their sensations.  We are all mostly complicated personalities (except for Billy Mitchell, he's straightforward, redeemed, salt of the earth and fictitious).  We are also all separated but somehow glued together through a huge shared experience that is life.  

This piece is called ''Internalized Spread''.  Garth is using his cut and paste collage techniques to create an impenetrable wall of his own confusion and chaos.  An attempt to express uncertain chaos.  I must apologize for the quality of this photograph.  Due to being largely unsuccessful and not having adequate finances Garth resorts to photographing his artwork with his mobile phone in his back garden.  Therefore lacking the professionalism, commitment and resources of a proper artist.

Our lives all have internal complications; we all intersect very badly like crappy bent jigsaw pieces.  Abrasive and never fitting permanently, just sort of sticking together for a few seconds but never forming a complete picture..  We all live within an environment that is THE WORLD and that links us all together so we can all have something to talk to each other about, but the world also makes us all different and we all have a different angle and viewpoint on the world dependent on our positions... that much is obvious.  These days I see the world quite nicely through my living room window as I make artwork and sell patterns and make big pictures to submit to exhibitions.  The world outside to me is big green trees and a few residential houses and gardens. Nothing bad really breaks into this bubble.  I don't have to spend two hours a day on public transport wishing I was going somewhere different for once; I can stay exactly where I need to be.  This makes me feel guilty and complicit and I dislike my lack of involvement but I do get to make lots of artwork and get a lot done, though I will be getting a job again soon, I don't have the finances to really exist in this way indefinitely.  Not yet anyway...

This piece is entitled ''Dilation of Inefficient Sparks'', produced in 2012.  Garth had advice from a friend back in 2010 to title his work less floridly and to simply use the title to describe what the image looks like.  This has allowed Garth to find the naming of imagery much easier, but it hasn't helped with the floridness of his titles.  I do get the impression that the use of language in Garth's work make him feel clever and interesting.  The use of the ''inefficient'' in the title is referring to the badly structured yellow elements in this picture, how they don't really convey sparks and contain no observation about the real physics of sparks.  This shows that Garth is at least self aware that his work doesn't quite measure up to even his own standards of aesthetic.  Worse still is the fact that he readily admits his laziness to better his creative approach in the title of this picture.

I do dream that one day I will have the finances and free time to do whatever I like.  Not so I can live in an internalized self imposed but productive bubble of existence but so I can actually expand that bubble into the outside world.  Somehow make all my internals into externals.  Like vomiting on the world I suppose.  I know that doesn't sound very nice but it's an apt metaphor.   I hope to be filled so full of finances that it makes me sick with money and I have to puke it all up all over existence, leaving collages and patterns everywhere.  Selfish?  Perhaps not.  With the ego, money and recognition I'd attain I could feed all the homeless, I could eliminate third world debt and solve the Bermuda Triangle. Or perhaps I should just build a bigger concrete bubble, where me and my cat can sit and pretend the outside world doesn't exist.  Whatever the choice it sounds very ugly and unbecoming.  This is the problem with self awareness and therefore self analysis.  You take a thread of yourself and pick at it until it becomes something bad, leading myself to all kinds of self doubts until you yourself become something ugly.  In my case I've turned my potentially lovely and successful future self into some money bloated ego freak puking all over existence whilst gleefully and condescendingly throwing pennies at homeless people. Somehow I doubt this is going to be my future.  This is good.  The best benefit of self awareness and self analysis is that it allows you to understand the processes of how your mind works.  You can even enjoy a little bit of self parody.  Though the problem with self parody is it's difficult to understand where the self parody starts and ends.  It's difficult to always be able to tell when I'm joking or not, especially when I'm tired.  

I would not say that I wish Garth Simmons luck in his future.  As an Art Historian I am not here to make wishes but to dictate and cement facts for future reference.  

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Deconstruction of Falling Bricks

Some of you may have been following this story on Facebook, I did become quite obsessive about it and took as many photos of this slowly demolished building as possible.  I my eye on it all day due to it occurring outside my office window for the last four months I was working for Manchester City Council.

I'd been working for the City Council for quite a few years and took voluntary redundancy meaning my contract finished March 2014.  That's the uninteresting part of this story.  This is the story of my unlikely non-friendship with a collapsing structure.  Here comes all the personalized, irrational but knowingly just metaphorical stuff.  The collapsing structure could be seen as a physical manifestation of the end of my time working at the City Council.  The gray facade was torn from the face of the building, revealing all the hidden colours.  Almost like how my job had given me a bureaucratic facade and as time went by the mask had to slip away for the real me to reemerge... now that's turning the metaphorical into the pretentious... but I don't mind so much about that.  Pretentious is as Pretentious does.  And Pretensious writes a blog.

It wasn't like any ordinary demolition.  When I was young I remember Edlington's pit being blown up in an amazing explosion.  The whole structure tumbling down in one fast organised collapse leaving behind a blackened undeveloped wasteland.  The explosion was exciting to my 4 year old brain and I wasn't of an age to appreciate the political ramifications.  I had a vague concept of Thatcher as a pantomime villain who stole milk from children.  To be fair on my four year old self he likely had a lot more political knowledge and awareness of current events than I do now as a thirty two year old.

In contrast to the last demolition I watched this building was taken apart in slow motion.  I'm assuming it was taken down in this fashion for health and safety reasons, though a friend told me that they might be selling the bricks so they'll need them all intact.  Either way the deconstruction method could probably be googled and that would give you a more satisfactory answer as to why some buildings suffer this slow unravelling. This entry is more about how interesting I found it on an aesthetic level.  Like a form of archeology. Looking into other people's past lives, their taste in colour and how well sign posted their fire exits were.  How a dull, boring tower block can have under it's surfaces such vibrancy, and that even in council flats there is a taste for bright colours.  Not all council residents look live like Mike Leigh believes them to.

So I would check everyday, see it from different angles dependent on my position.  Discovering that there was not just one of these buildings but two of them.  If you have ever been to this area of West Gorton you would know that there isn't a great deal to do apart from smoke.  So the arrival of this rough, colorful character into my life became something of a fascination and I thought about it on a multitude of levels, some of which I can't actually recall or even put into tangible words.  Or in other words ''I'm not sure I can be bothered trying to put them into words.''  Perhaps this is due to a lack of words in the english language to define my feelings or perhaps it's due to me feeling that to reveal them would be telling too much about myself.  The main reason though is that some of the levels were very silly.  Needless to say though I did have an appreciation and at times an actual affection for this building in it's dying days.

The broken building became something important for me to chronicle.  The more it was taken apart the more the imiment change in my own life approached.  The idea of leaving my job before the building was destroyed seemed like cheating, it needed to be destroyed on the last week of my work.  Progress on the poor thing was very slow for quite a few months, so it got to a point where I feared my visual journal wouldn't be complete and that I wouldn't be there for the broken building when it was finally torn down.

Around this time I started to get into pattern design.  I started to see the world differently and the real world started to feel like art and patterns.  I started looking at everything in different ways, seeing pattern potential in everything.  The fact the building was being destroyed meant that it's pattern would be lost forever, but also it meant that it would leave a new pattern behind.  That being the issue of existing within time and space everything moves and changes.  Patterns and art are a way of fixing life into some form of permanence. There was nothing permanent about the broken building or my job at the City Council and most importantly for me to remember that there was nothing permanent about me.  That I really am adaptable and I am capable of changing.  At the time this was very frightening.  I wasn't sure what I would become and still feel like I'm in a bit of a chrysalis.

A few years ago, possibly around the point I started this blog or not long after, I actually felt I had reached my full psychological apex, that I wouldn't ever rise higher or change into a different sort of person ever again, that I had reached the middle of my life and from this point onwards I was a fixed point.  This doesn't mean that I was incapable of achieving but that my core characteristics were always going to stay the same, whether I was living alone, with people, with a cat or with whoever I would always be the Garth Simmons that I had become.  As the building was taken apart so was I, and within the ghost walls I began to think more about the real me rather than the trappings and definitions I'd inadvertently put on myself.  This is good as those definitions had become very old, tired and predictable for me to live in, sometimes they were actually frustrating.  But it was strange and scary because I had no idea, actually still have no idea, what it is that I will become.

And so it ended.  The last week of March.  The whole thing broken down and turned into piles of dead brick.  I got the bus away from West Gorton for the last time.  Leaving behind the dead shell of a departed friend not to mention some lovely co workers.  In this blog post I've attempted to make the mundane epic or perhaps make the epic personal.  Experiences somehow change their substance when put into words, ''mundane'', ''epic'', ''personal''.  It all was what it was and all these things happened and now the future feels vast and indomitable.