A Twin Study with Tom Gerrard January 15 2020

Photo by Barry Mansfield.

Tom Gerrard is a Melbourne-based artist known for painting simplified characters, architecture and nature using a minimal colour palette, and is highly regarded in the Melbourne art scene. The characters and elements that make up his paintings have been inspired by people he’s seen and places he’s been. His work is a blend of street art, illustration and fine art, has been sighted on walls as well as galleries, and he often collaborates with other local artists.

Ahead of his show Twin Study, we interviewed Tom about his daily sketches, connection to twins, and his ideal art-making day.

Interview by Louise McIntosh. 

Do you approach the dual sides to your art practice differently?  Has something you painted on the street led to a painting in the studio and vice versa?

Yes. All the time. I find that I approach a lot of my studio work in the same way I would paint on the streets. I also use a lot of graffiti implements in the studio. They are the tools I’ve grown up around and I’m most comfortable using. It also goes the other way and a lot of the patterns, compositions and line work I incorporate into my street pieces have been developed in the studio and in sketch books. I don’t over think any of it. It’s just the way it happens.

Photo by Barry Mansfield.

You often use passport-sized sketch books. How important are these in your practise?

They are the backbone of my art practice. I’ve drawn in them every day for the last 6 years. They are a great way to generate new ideas and develop style and technique. I always turn to them prior to starting a new painting. They are also a great marker of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. I’m currently on my 76th book and have no plan on stopping.  

Favourite art tool of the moment?

I’ve been using chinagraph pencils a fair bit. I like anything that I can make a continuous line with. I also like white out pens and Krink mop markers. The pigment is good and you can get nice drips out of them. But I like lots of different tools. It depends on the task at hand. I use a lot of spray paint, roller paint and I’ve been getting into the airbrush.

Photo by Tom Gerrard.

Describe your perfect art day.

I love traveling and looking for places to paint in interesting countries. I spent a few months painting in India and I have also painted in most countries in Latin America. I love a good day of adventure painting where I can get about 5 pieces done in great locations and interact with the locals. I also love a good day in the studio. But it’s not as exciting.

There is a wide breadth of subject matter in the body of work for your upcoming show. It is refreshing to see the different themes you are currently working on. How did you approach this show?

I’ve been working on a lot of bodies of work over the past few years. A lot of them have featured about 12 paintings. I wanted to bring some more variety into this show, so I worked on several smaller bodies of work. I also produced a lot of works on paper of various sizes. I like working on paper because it gives me a chance to use different materials. I’ve been priming the paper with house paint prior to painting it. I love how it feels like a thick sheet of latex. It doesn’t feel delicate like a sheet of paper.

Photo by Tom Gerrard.

This show is titled Twin Study. Tell us more about why you chose this name.

My parents separated when I was 3. My brother and I are twins, and lived together till we were 10. But he wanted to live with Dad in the Dandenong Ranges and I chose to grow up in the city. We are real products of our environment and very different. He’s a builder and I’m an artist. But my mother is also a twin and I have twin cousins. My mother and aunt are part of a twin study. I remember letters arriving with the Twin Study letter head.

I was working on a series of paintings that had a lot of twins featured in them. But each twin was done in a different style and with different mediums. It’s my way of saying that we may look the same, but if you look closer we are totally different. The Twin Study letter head came to mind as I was painting them. I liked the paintings so much that I decided to name the show after them.

Some artists listen to podcasts or audiobooks, but I know you are a vinylophile – any favourites that you played whilst working on Twin Study?

I’m always listening to records in the studio. I love it. I’ve been listening to a lot of Rocksteady, Roots Reggae and Jazz. I also have Hip-Hop Friday every week. It’s a day where I leave the laptop at home and paint all day with no distractions from emails and other computer related tasks. I also listen to a lot of podcasts when I’m traveling between home and the studio. Check out my podcast called Bench Talk if you’re into art podcasts. I’ve interviewed artists from all over the world and had a great time doing it. I’m currently up to episode 140.

Top 5 things to take whilst marooned on a desert island.

Lots of water. 2 sketchbooks and 2 pens.

Thanks so much for chatting to us, Tom!

Twin Study by Tom Gerrard
Outré Gallery Fitzroy, 319 Smith St, Fitzroy VIC 3065

23 January – 10 February 2020
Opening night starts from 6pm, Thursday, 23 January 2019 (not our usual Friday opening!)
Opens alongside Skinny Dippers by Jillian Evelyn
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