THE ARTWORK OF CANDICE TRIPP, PAINTER LADY
That amazing piece of work, it turns out, is by the one and only Candice Tripp, British artist extraordinaire. She works in several mediums–oil, gauche, sculpture, etching, fabric–and her work is as creepy as it is beautiful. Feast your eye bones on these bad boys:
Ms. Tripp was nice enough to sit down and answer a few questions…
Could you please give us a brief history of yourself as an artist?
CT: I never connected my love of painting with any real world notion of being an artist. I didn’t study. A friend of a friend saw my after-work hobby and offered me a show with 6 weeks to prepare for it. I was aware that I was being offered a rare opportunity and decided to throw myself into it.
There was a boom in print sales at the time and I was lucky in that collectors and galleries both seemed really open to new, unknown artists and their (my) unrefined, sometimes clumsy work. It hasn’t always been so easy, but I bit the bullet and here we are today.
I want to ask about two concurrent aspects of what you do, and see what happens if you try to answer them together: You are a really talented fine art painter/sculptor/etc., AND a big fan of horror/weird/scary stuff. Which came first, and did they immediately gel together, or has it been more complicated?
First of all, thank you very much!
I’d draw whilst watching Scooby-Doo on TV, so both interests go as far back as my memory can stretch.
When I started out I made a conscious decision to never work from pop culture. I didn’t want my work to fit squarely into a time frame at all. It was a quiet rule for myself- partly because at the time you couldn’t move sideways without seeing a cartoon character wearing a gas mask or a McDonald’s logo. The scene felt saturated with pop culture girdled in violence and/or greed and I was happy to be set apart from that.
Without consciously having a hankering to reference pop culture, I felt like I had to prove myself before I could even entertain the idea.
I was 21 when I popped onto the scene. It wasn’t until I felt like I had a solid history that showed considerable growth before I let myself paint whatever I wanted, for the pure joy of it. I needed a good enough show under my belt that nobody could take away from me, that wouldn’t be diminished by personal indulgence.
By the time I let myself revel in some true fandom, I didn’t feel like anyone could throw the “stupid young girl with no original ideas” book at me. Moreover, I couldn’t chastise myself for that either.
With that being said, there’s been a lot of interest in exhibiting the House of Horror series but I have no interest in doing that. They’re loads of fun, but feel too easy.
I don’t want to get known for fan art. I’d rather exhibit the work that makes me sweat.
Who are some of your favorite visual artists? Who have been the most influential to you?
Seonna Hong, Nicola Samori, Goya, Jane Alexander, Femke Hiemstra, Nomi Chi, Sam Wolfe Connelley, the Chapman brothers and Antony Micallef, who has been, hands down my biggest influence.
When I was 17 I spent two weeks in the UK and bought my first ever Face magazine. Inside, I found an interview with Antony Micallef and I was totally enthralled with his painting ‘Dirty Deluxe’.
At the time I had this idea that the only people who sold paintings were the ones who had to appeal to the suburban market that wanted a pleasant still life or fishing boat that would match their sofa.
It’s art, sure- but you bought it from shops inside upscale malls, or at the side of the road, not galleries. I thought you had to reinvent the wheel to be a serious artist and create unlovely, intelligent work; exhibit your soiled bed, used condoms et al or cast a bust of your head in your own frozen blood.
Here though, was Micallef who didn’t paint for hotel walls and created art that I (and so many others) could respond to. I was amazed. I thought it was cool as fuck. He was doing what he wanted and people were sitting up and taking note.
So when I was offered a show, I thought “My god, do this! ‘They’ just gave you the green light to paint”
As far as being a horror super fan, who are some authors you really like? What are your favorite books/stories (or at least a few of them)?
Get ready to be unimpressed, I’m not going to reel off a load of underground material.
I pray at the altar of Stephen King. I’m so devoted that I’ll happily forgive him every third act (because let’s face it, those are not the best bits, in any horror book or film)
Favourites include Lisey’s Story, Misery, The Talisman and Big Driver.
The Shining in Winter, but not at Christmas. IT in late Spring. Cujo in Summer. Bag of Bones happily slots in year-round.
As for other horror authors, I also like Michael McDowell, Dan Simmons, T.E. Grau and Robert McCammon.
I’ve had House of Leaves for 4 years and still haven’t finished it. I’ve heard it’s the scariest book of all.
And what about horror movies? Any absolute favourites?
Nope, I can’t choose. I get a brain cramp just trying to narrow it down.
A lot of your work seems to have a narrative going on, telling a kind of dream-logic story. Do these happen organically, or is there a lot preplanning that goes on?
There’s no narrative between paintings, but each one needs a solid idea for me to get behind it. If someone can spin themselves a story that threads them together, that makes me happy.
Waiting for an idea is how I imagine it must feel to lay a very large egg.
Can you describe a painting session? Let’s say you’ve just put a blank canvas in front of yourself. What happens next? Do you have working rituals?
I NEED an audiobook. I can’t work without one anymore. The longer, the better.
I’m usually riding a high because I’m relieved that I’ve finally come up with an idea.
I start by laying down an abstract mess, wait a few days for it to dry and then see how I can fit the characters into the scene. It mostly serves as a suggestion of where the landscape is and how to work into it.
What can you tell us about The Tribe series?
I love a collection. Uniformity. I think it all started with the Care Bears.
The Tribe is a means to play with a character without needing to inject it into a setting or suggest an agenda. It’s regimental freedom from thinking, of sorts.
I like that your paintings tend to have both a creepy AND a playful aspect going on at the same time. Care to say anything about that?
Thank you. I think the juxtaposition is necessary in order to avoid a sympathetic cringe on the part of the viewer.
They’re like legs. I could get along fine with just the one, but life is so much better with both.
Do you have an overall artist’s philosophy?
Embrace the fear.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve had to hit pause on a big fatty of a painting to work on some etchings that are in the works with Souled Out Studios in Bangkok, whilst working on my second ever commercial commission.
Lastly: What is the SCARIEST book you ever read? And movie?
My holy grail is a truly scary book. To date, I think the only book that really scared me was The Shining. All hail Steve. I had to periodically break for coffee and to get a grip.
The movie that scared me the most was A Tale of Two Sisters. I will freely admit that I walked out of the cinema clueless. I had been so engrossed with the set design and so thoroughly scared in turn that I had to watch the movie twice before I could even piece together the greater story.
Thank you, Candice!