Raised in Glasgow, the Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed, 47, studied at the Slade. His works, which range from sculpture to installation pieces and paintings, are much informed by Marcel Duchamp’s ideas concerning the presentation of objects – see my post about Marcel Duchamp.
His neon slogans have been displayed on the facade of Tate Britain (“the whole world + the work = the whole world”) and New York’s Times Square (“Everything is Going to be Alright”). In 1994 Creed formed a band, which forms a parallel outlet for his artistic practice. He has recently released the album Thoughts Lined Up.
His new sculpture, “Understanding”, a 25-foot-tall rotating red neon sign, was on view at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6 until October, 2016.
In an interview with the UK’s Telegraph Newspaper, Martin is quoted as follows:
I get up at about 7am, it’s ingrained. I start work straight away, sometimes even when I’m in the shower. Often first thing in the morning I’m in a wee dreamy bubble that hasn’t yet been dashed on the rocks of reality. It’s a nice time for some daydreaming, which I think is important.
I drink a huge amount of coffee just to feel okay. I used to smoke like crazy, too, as soon as I woke up – I’d have 10 at least before I even began to think, but I’ve given up now. I drink the coffee, usually in bed, and make notes. That can go on for an hour or two, sometimes until midday.
I live in two places during the week. Half the week in a flat at the Barbican, which I’ve had since 2006, and half of the week in a house in south London with my partner and step-daughter – we’ve been there for about two years.
I don’t have a separate studio, I work at home. I’ve got an office in Brick Lane, too, but that’s more for the people who help me. Whether the end result is a painting or a piece of music, the work that I do is more in terms of making notes than things. Lying down is my favourite place to do that. There’s space in the house in south London if I want to make bigger things.
I like to know where things are but I’m not tidy. My notebooks are all kept on shelves and in one place, though. I use a mix of longhand notes in a pocket book and voice memos, especially for songs.
I don’t listen to the radio. Sometimes I might listen to music – Kris Kristofferson or Waylon Jennings, usually – but a lot of the time I’m making music and then I have to keep my mind clear.
I often get hungry but if I eat too much, the whole world feels different. My brain changes and I lose the thread. If I have a very light lunch then I might be alright, but I don’t often chance it. I also sometimes have a sleep during the day.
My walls are mostly bare, although there might be some work notes here or there. Around my home I have a couple of paintings by Shelagh Honan and Alec Kronacker, and a couple of my own works, too.
Deciding when a work is finished is a bit of a problem for me. Often I try to second-guess that problem by coming up with a work idea that has the ending built into it, for example a live show on stage, because then you have to finish; you can’t just go on for bl**dy hours. I tend to work and work and work on things until I’ve spoiled them. I often ask other people for their opinion, because one is not the best judge of one’s own work. I ask curators, musicians, the guys I work with, my partner Anouchka and Jimmy the dog. He’s very wise.
I wouldn’t use the word “inspiration” in describing my process. I would say that I try to cope with life as best I can, and that my work is a reaction to life. It can be anger, as in, “this is all a load of b******s”, I want to make something to express that, or simply, if I’m on the Tube, and an idea just comes into my head. I suppose you might call that inspiration, but I think it’s just a reaction to what’s going on around me.
I don’t experience artist’s block, but I do suffer from doubt, where I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’d say a lot of my work comes from not feeling sure about things, and making a song and dance about it, which involves trying to create something out of that. I find myself stuck sometimes in a sort of “here I am, me and the world” thing, and I have to deal with it and try to accept myself. I usually deal with it by carrying on working. It’s like, I don’t know which colours I prefer, so I try to use all of the colours to work it out.
Finish time is variable. Theoretically it’s at 6pm or 7pm, but then I might start work again at 9pm. I do try to keep evenings and weekends free so I can hang out with Jimmy. I think things suffer if you work all the time.
Having a routine is quite helpful, although I don’t like feeling imprisoned by a need to get up or be somewhere.
I can work on more than one piece at once – I have about 50 in progress at the moment.
I relax by spending time with Jimmy or Anouchka. When I’m on my own I tend to eat and watch the news, or sometimes Holby City on a Tuesday. I like going to bed early, but often I can’t sleep