Michael Peck interviewed by Arts Hub.
Michael peck is the current feature artist on Arts Hub.
ArtsHub Q&A Michael Peck – Artist
What did you want to be when you grew up?
That depends on what age I was at the time. Here we go, starting from about the age of three and ending somewhere in my early thirties (now); Batman, fireman, policeman, garbage man (I’d still like to hang off the back of a truck!), professional skateboarder, professional surfer, landscape gardener, builder, furniture designer, architect, wealthy entrepreneur, poor humanitarian worker, or an artist. I’m still not sure what I want to be!
What did you become?
What’s your official title?
As a teacher my students call me Mr.Peck, however this is a title which no 31 year old should ever be called. I guess professionally I’m a visual artist.
What’s your background – how did you end up here?
I have always loved anything where I get to be creative and see my ideas being put to use in the real world. I grew up with pencils in my hand, I spray painted walls as a teenager and I discovered oil paint when I was eighteen. Although there have been many things I’d like to have explored, there never seemed to be an equal alternative to becoming an artist. When I completed my fine arts degree at Monash University, I was picked up by Gallery 101 in Melbourne and people seemed to like my work. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to travel a fair bit and produce commissioned work in London and New York. I’ve been exhibiting at Metro Gallery for the past 5 years.
How would you describe your work to a complete stranger?
Normally when I tell people I am a painter they ask me if I paint houses! People are not always easily convinced that being an artist is a career so normally I keep it simple; I paint pictures, I exhibit, I open myself up to scrutiny but I love what I do.
What’s the first thing career related you usually do each day?
I normally start in the studio at about 8.30 but I like to take the first half an hour just getting into the right frame of mind. I choose the right music depending on the type of painting I am doing and then I take time to look at each of the paintings I have in progress and think about the directions I will take them. If I do not take the time to do this I rush into my work and make mistakes, or worse, it begins to feel like work!
Can you describe an “average” working day for you?
I always have a few paintings going at any given time so I spend the majority of my time in the studio in front of the canvases. My days are pretty routine; I arrive, choose music to play, paint until lunch when my wife and kid’s come to visit, and then I paint up until about 6.00. I always have my laptop next to me in the studio so all of my administrative tasks can be done in between painting. I have a few friends who also do the same so often we email each other about what we are working on.
Who or what in the arts world most inspires you?
I am really inspired by art in public places- Art which you engage with when your not thinking about engaging with art; Graffiti, public sculpture, fashion, architecture and design all inspire me. Recently I have also been following a number of artist’s blogs. I love that these are constantly changing and do not seem to be limited only to showcasing artworks but more importantly give insight into how the artist’s day to day experiences contribute to new ideas.
What’s the toughest challenge you’ve dealt with on the job?
Earlier on, the greatest difficulty was to get my work noticed. Artists always run the risk of working really hard and then having no one pay any attention.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given for your career?
I ignored it! On the first day at art school I was warned that in reality only one student each year will actually go on to a successful career as an artist! The second best advice was that if I wanted to have a successful career as an artist I needed to be very stubborn and not listen to smart advice!
What are the top three skills you need in your particular role?
1. You have to be passionate, creative and skilled as an art maker.
2. You need to be able to finish projects and not go on tangents every time a new idea emerges.
3. You need to be good with people but accept that not everyone will always understand or like what you do. You need to be prepared for lots of knock-backs but at the same time make the most of good opportunities.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to do what I love and I get to put the best of me into something which I think is meaningful and purposeful.
And the worst?
Feeling uninspired and trying to force it!
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