I quite enjoy poems. I never studied poetry or anything like that, because I went to art school. Any idiot can go to art school.

Feature by Lindsey Johnstone | 16 Apr 2006

If you've picked up the Triptych brochure, and seen the careless, somewhat menacing, doodle-like drawings that resemble those of a slightly disturbed eight-year-old adorning this year's programme, they may have seemed familiar to you. David Shrigley is the name you're looking for. He is an artist whose distinctively messy, anarchic, absurdist style is recognisable even to those who couldn't name him, be it from one of the umpteen books he has published, or the Blur promo he created for 'Good Song'.

He is one of the best examples of an artist who makes you rethink your definition of Fine Art, the kind that divides opinions. Each drawing acts as a small reminder of the darker side of the everyday things, extracting human flaws, doubts and insecurities and encouraging us to laugh cruelly at them, out loud. Although he says that he is not misanthropic and just thinks people are 'a bit stupid.' His work walks an irreverent line between humour and melancholy profundity. It is the visual equivalent of writing on a post-it note something you would not say out loud.

He describes the process of working as; "Like lifting a jug and just letting the water pour out." When I ask if his drawings are as spontaneous as they look, he says; "I suppose I just do it. Because that's what I do. I just sit down and see what comes out. I do have a sort of strategy, but it's very much just to do it intuitively and find the right starting point."

He reads a lot, and has recently started getting into poetry; "I quite enjoy poems. I never studied poetry or anything like that, because I went to art school. Any idiot can go to art school." His take on his education there is that; "Teaching Fine Art is a bit like psychotherapy. It's one on one tutorials and it's all "What did you do that for?" It's essentially a practical subject masquerading as an academic one. It's an odd subject to study, it kind of teaches you to do whatever you want."

He always wanted to go to art school, but; "I didn't really even know that you could be an artist. I think even when I left art school I didn't imagine that I would actually be the kind of artist that shows at museums and sells their work and drinks wine at openings. I enjoyed being at art school, but I wasn't very popular with the tutors and I didn't get very good marks really. So when I left I didn't really think it was possible for me to be an artist and I decided to be a cartoonist. So deciding to publish in books was a way to disseminate my wares, and then I realised I actually enjoyed making the books. Very quickly they were no longer a means to an end, they were a reason in themselves. I really like the democracy of books."

His decision to stay in Glasgow after graduating was based simply on the fact that; "I've always really liked it... To my eyes it seemed like a really exotic place, just visually very different to where I was from."
Artist, musician, film-maker... is there anything else he would like to do that he hasn't done yet?

"What like bungee jumping or parachuting or something? People always ask what would you be doing if you weren't an artist, and I always say a psychiatrist or whatever, and they say "oh yes, very interesting, write that down, relate it to your work" but I think actually I'd quite like to be an actor. Not that I'd be any good at it. If I wasn't an artist I'd be an unsuccessful actor."

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