Glasgow artist Paul Kennedy talks about life as an artist, his career and what inspires him.
When and how did you start making art? How did you get where you are now in your career?
I started drawing with felt tip pens, like most kids, when I was 3 or 4 years old, and from there, anything arty was so appealing. I’m fortunate that my parents encouraged my creativity – for which I’m grateful.
At primary school, I always wanted to succeed but was never seen as the best artist in the class. Then, at secondary school, I entered an art competition and won the opportunity to design the Edinburgh Fringe Festival poster for 1994, I was 12.
From there my school, family, and everyone I knew encouraging me follow my passion and to do art for life.
The path to becoming a professional artist starting with Higher Art at school, a college portfolio course which led to an HNC in Environmental Art, and a degree in drawing and painting from ECA. From there, it has been 12 years of constant creating in the studio. I do everything I can to be as creatively free as possible.
What do you make and what are the ideas behind what you make?
The ideas for my work all come from my life or what triggers a fascination in me. I’m fascinated by small homegrown cultures found in society – everything from park life and dog racing to holidays.
If I visit a place that I find inspiring, it triggers a process; then an exhibition may follow which is all related to that initial inspiration.
Similarly, a childhood memory can trigger off a series of work. It’s complex, but daily life and people I encounter are constant source material and the work I make kind of filters and chapters subjects that interest me.
Mostly I paint, although I have spent periods of time making screenprints, although I’m taking a sabbatical from printmaking until I know want I want to achieve from that.
What inspires you?
So many things inspire me. My family history is a huge inspiration; I feel that as my life continues so do the chapters of the photo albums that started back in the 40’s. Painting is the thing that cements everything together, the past, present, future, and it helps me make sense of life.
Where do you work? What is your average working day?
I have a studio in WASPS South Block and work there 3/4 of the time and 1/4 from my flat. An average day is a lazyish morning. I must have some morning TV. Then exercise. This combination gets me a good mental place to paint. I get to the studio before 10 am, set up, and assess what needs to be done and what I want to do. I work in that order so that I can enjoy painting later in the day, it is easier to create when you love what you do, even if you’re exhausted. I usually work from 10-7
What are you working on now?
I’ve just completed my major show for the Leiper Gallery ‘A Night at the Dogs’. The idea for this body of work originated from a Stag a Party at Shawfield in 2013. The works reflect the dark and light side of all things related to a night at the dogs.
In what way does being Scottish/in Scotland influence your work?
I find the energy of Scottish people very courageous and real. We are a brave nation and have always had to look out for ourselves and battle our way for survival throughout history.
In a way being an artist is similar it’s about survival, your art surviving and your mental strength to conquer the haters the put downs, the risks and faith in yourself that are involved as well as the sheer commitment and sacrifice of a ‘normal’ easier life. In saying that wouldn’t change what I do as to me it’s not a choice, it’s a way of life.