Ian Stevenson

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Can you give us five words or images that describe Ian Stevenson?
Picture a man that does not want to be thanked helping a distressed animal and accidentally hurting it.

Who is your biggest hero?

Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren and Kurt Russell. Basically all the cool actors from Hollywood because they’re the best!

What book is your bible? (as in: what is your favorite book? or: what book helps guide your life?)
I really like that book where that American guy is the Son of God and is sacrificed on a cross to save mankind. Those stories are soooo totally awesome.

Does your art take its shape in order to reflect an overall section of society or is it based on a purely personal perspective?
It’s my point of view. I don’t think I can take responsibility for anyone else as they are too confusing. I do sometimes use other peoples point of view but this would again be to highlight my view on how stupid they can be.

What’s the message behind your exhibition ‘Really Shit’?

I wanted to highlight the negative side of life today and make people think about the reality of modern living and then use this as the selling point. The main piece of the show is a canvas featuring the words really shit, the truth behind many of the messages that fill our lives. Another piece “it’s just art” features a paint brush shape that would resemble most peoples perception of art but without the bullshit and aims to include the viewer not patronise it. My piece “i could do that” is a common phrase said in art galleries but the fact is they didn’t do it and that’s the point. As a by-product of drawing after getting the pens started some other pieces of work were created and i thought they deserved to be included just as much as everything else. Some of the packaging used to transport the work was also exhibited. The very people who don’t understand this exhibition or my work are the very ones who could get the most from it.

What do you think of today’s contemporary art scene?
What i’ve always enjoyed about art is that it becomes much more than the work on display. Style doesn’t matter and it’s how it makes you think and feel that’s the point. Some of it on the other hand is just really shit and it’s more about who you know.

Are you professionally trained?

Yes, I was created on a secret island just off the coast of the United Kingdom. I trained for many years drawing and observing ‘reality’ through the television.

Are you trying to convey a message to the world through your work?

All of my work is basically my thoughts and opinions from my mind. I try not to talk about it too much as I feel the work should do the talking and not me. If it’s need me to help explain then I’ve not done it right.

Al Gore’s channel created a documentary about you. What sparked that?
An independant film company called Institute For Eyes put forward a proposal to Current TV about doing a documentary about my work. The idea was to focus on the Rubbish Art project that I was doing, which involved walking around the streets and drawing on rubbish. Current TV really liked this idea and how it highlights environmental issues in a new way.

Do you experiment with different papers, pens etc?
Yes sometimes I pretend the pen is a magic wand and make the paper into a pointy hat and speak in a strange wizard voice.

Who was the first illustrator/artist you discovered that inspired and/or influenced you?
People who follow their own thoughts and create something new, they inspire me. Too many people today just follow and lots of things are the same.

Exhibition of the year?

I saw a collection of cream cakes in a bakery and that was very thought provoking.

Have you ever gone to the circus?

I have memories in my mind but I’m not sure if they are mine or from a TV detective series like Murder She Wrote or Diagnosis Murder. A clown found out that his daughter who is the high wire lady was being harassed by the ringmaster. He was threatening to sack her if she didn’t accept his advances. A few days later the ringmaster was found knifed to dead on the spinning target. Several people told the police they had heard the clown arguing with the ringmaster and some suspiciously obvious clown shoe footprints were also found at the crime scene. The police immediately arrested the clown as he was clearly guilty. Towards the end of my memory a meddling part-time pretend investigator revealed that the real killer was in fact a young juggler. He had recently joined the circus and was the illegitimate and abandoned son of the ringmaster and wanted revenge.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh and Picasso.

Did anyone ever refuse your work?
Companies sometimes think they want something interesting, then they realise they just want the usual crap and continue to treat the public like idiots. So yes sometimes my work doesn’t get used, it’s annoying and a complete waste of time.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I worked in an ASDA warehouse on the night shift with local radio playing love songs through the night. Not good.

Does it ever happen that you find yourself without any ideas or inspiration?
Not really, things always keep appearing in my mind. When they stop coming I’ll probably be either dead or comfortably numb.

A night you’ll never forget….good or bad?
I always forget the night time but I do remember a day not too long ago (this morning). I had settled down at the computer with a cup of tea and then the door bell rang… I answered it and signed for a package and then heard a noise… yes it was the door to the flat closing and I had no keys, jacket, phone or shoes. After about 15 minutes thinking of a plan I decided the best thing to do was walk to the charity shop on the main road and buy some shoes. It was strange passing people without my shoes on but I focused on walking like everything was normal. I arrived with wet socks and eventually paid £3 for some shoes after explaining my story to the lady. With my new shoes I went for a walk around the streets and then to the cafe with some paper I also bought and enjoyed myself with a pen. I would recommend this adventure to everyone.

If someone was looking for your advice about getting into the world of art, what would you tell them?
A few years ago I emailed a few agencies when I was trying to get representation and one of them suggested that I look around at what other artists were doing and create more work like that. If that kind of advice is not what is wrong with the world then I don’t know what is. I would suggest doing the exact opposite and now you can decide which path to take.

How much longer are you planning to carry on being an artist?

This interview is the last thing I will ever do.

What typeface do you want on your tombstone?
A beautiful script font would be good with some cheap clip art of a sunset, a plane and people waving.