David Clarke is an artist printmaker, working predominately in digital media. He has a BA in Fine Art from Nottingham College of Art & Design (now Trent University) and an MA in Fine Art and DipIAD in Graphic Design. After a career of 35 years working as a designer in the advertising industry, he decided to experiment with print technology and develop fine art digital techniques as an independent artist. He is an associate member of Leicester Print Workshop, giving talks and demonstrations on digital print media.
A DAY IN YOUR LIFE
What does a typical day as an artist look like for you?
I'm an early riser so 6-8am is emails and social media. Then I critique what I did yesterday and try to move some of it forward. That lasts as long as it lasts - could be 6 hours but if I'm really into something. all night. If I'm just not in the zone that day then I'll concentrate on the business side.
David Clarke, 'End of Days', archival digital print
What media do you usually work in?
I work with digital media and mostly self generated. I try to show that working with computers not brushes doesn't mean it cannot be art.
All my work is printed to archival standard so quality and longevity are guaranteed.
David Clarke, 'My Old Stone Wall', watercolour
I am predominately a printmaker. That means producing a lot of original sketches and drawings, vital to getting the ideas organised and sometimes that can result in a finished art work in its own right.
David Clarke, 'Autumn Leaves', watercolour and digitial abstraction
How did you choose your current theme, if you have one?
I have quite a few series of work on the go at any one time including 'Cast Shadows' ,'Urban Chaos', 'Standing Stones', 'Event Series' 'Seasons Fields'.
David Clarke, 'U-Thirty-Seven Jealous Moon', archival digital print
I add to my series, usually at random, as the ideas surface.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
David Clarke, 'First Contact - the Space Between', archival digital print
It has been known for me to run round in footballer goal celebration mode when I finally crack a concept after several failed attempts.
The most satisfying part of the process has got to be seeing first edition print proofs. A computer screen, no matter how good, just doesn't compare with seeing it at size and on paper. Seeing a piece you like, framed well, also gives a nice warm glow.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
David Clarke, 'Monument 3-2', archival digital print
Knowing intuitively when its finished and leaving it alone! Working digitally means a constant battle with myself having total flexibility, multiple undoes and easily producing endless variations.
How did you get to where you are now?
David Clarke, 'U-Two', archival digital print
Sheer bloody-mindedness and not listening to anyone saying, "Are you sure that's a good idea?" As part of an MA in fine art I fell in love with printmaking so also took a DiplAD in Graphic Design to learn more about print. I was then seduced into the advertising industry. You know how it goes – glamour, bright lights, money, status - and a lot of crushing pressure to deliver in tight deadlines. With the development of modern print technology and moving on 35 years really felt I should be utilising that knowledge back in the fine art world and scratch that ever present itch to produce real art.
David Clarke, 'U-Eleven', archival digital print
So, I took the plunge. Spent 18 months experimenting and built a body of work and then I applied for membership of the LSA.
I am also an associate member of Leicester Print Workshop.
I try to show that by working with computers, not brushes, doesn't mean it can't be art. I give talks and demos to members on how I work, spreading the knowledge about digital printing and to help traditional printmakers see a wider context to what they do.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
People saying you can't - and ignoring them.
What’s the proudest moment of your artistic career so far?
In my current artistic career – to have my work displayed at the 2018 LSA annual show - then, seeing a red spot on my work at the preview - . . cue: footballer goal celebration!
David Clarke, 'U-Twenty-Eight Winter Blues', archival digital print
What advice would give your 22-year-old-self?
Make your own mind up what you want and don't give up.
AND . . . .don't expect to be brilliant all the time. Failure is good, that's how you learn.
EITHER/OR. . . .
David Clarke, 'U-Twenty-Four Split 2', archival digital print
Coffee or tea?
Coffee any day – preferably Italian.
Michelangelo or Picasso?
Michelangelo – just for the sheer passion.
Mac or PC?
Mac any day.
Do you prefer morning or night?
24 hours if I'm working – knowing when to stop is the clever bit.
Do you like music as you work?
No, its a distraction. I do get ideas about work from listening to music though.
David Clarke, 'Standing Stone 4', digital print
What is your favourite music?
I have 50 years of musical history so it's virtually impossible to name just one. However, with apologies to The Stones, Joni Michell, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Cream, Bowie, REM, Massive Attack and all soul and blues singers, this choice may surprise you - Gustav Mahler. Mahler wrote music at the turn of the 20th century in a more expressive and experimental way to the formal norm of the day - similar to the Impressionistic painters. I defy anyone listening to his 4th Symphony 3rd movement to not get emotional.
David Clarke, 'Big Wave', watercolour
A favourite book?
Difficult again - but anything by J. G. Ballard – just for their surreal nature. If not novels, any art book is good for me.
David Clarke, 'Cast Shadow 6 Garda Moon', archival digital print
Who are your favourite three artists?
Oh no! Only three? OK – Bridget Riley, Patrick Caulfield, Anne Christopher - pure brilliance. I do always hanker after Patrick Heron, Victor Pasmore and Norman Ackroyd though.
David Clarke, 'U Nine', archival digital print
Things to do on a Friday night?
Glass of red or two, chat to friends, two daughters, three grandchildren. Remind myself of what and who is important. Then, plan the weekend accordingly.
Your favourite holiday spot?
Italy – Rome or Florence.
What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
David Clarke, 'U-One' archival digital print
In the early 90's I won the contract to completely rebrand a national public Government body against London competition. When it was launched, in the design press Creative Review, Design Week - no Social media or online press then - there was a flood of complaining letters to the editor . . . 'why wasn't this done in London?' . . . .'the design isn't edgy enough'. . . that sort of thing.
I said to the client's Head of Public Affairs. 'How do we respond to this?' and his response was, 'Say nothing, let the critics argue amongst themselves. Rise above it. The work speaks for itself.' Very wise words. I never forgot that.
David Clarke, 'Moody Silverback', archival digital print
David Clarke's work can be seen at The Cank Street Gallery in Leicester city centre.
Conflict in Nature - David Clarke
(30 April - 8 June 2019)
The Cank Street Gallery
44-46 Cank Street
Leicester LE1 5GW