It is always flattering to be interviewed for a media article, but I was really chuffed to be approached by Cynthia Sipes of Quin-Art. It was a fun experience, and the blog is reproduced here in its entirety:
Paul Joyner is a sculptor who uses wires and various materials to create beautiful figurative sculptures. Paul is able to bring life to his sculptures by capturing the gesture and movements of his subject. In our interview he shares a little about his own struggles with confidence in his art, which is something he still works at. I hope Paul’s story provides insight into how you can acknowledge your fear and grow more in your creative journey. When did you first become interested in creating wire sculptures? I have always been interested in art, mainly ink doodles when I was younger, which have now matured into detailed drawings of buildings. When it comes to sculpture, I remember when I was really young I used to make miniature sculptures of birds and animals out of foil sweet wrappers, and Tunnock tea cake wrappings! I used to line them up on my bedside table! My more recent interest in sculpture came when my wife, Caroline, bought us a weekend wire art course in 2017 with the great James Ort in Towersey. I spent two days creating a dynamic sculpture of a ballet dancer, whilst everyone else was making birds and animals! It was the excitement of drawing in mid air through the medium of wire instead of ink that captured my imagination.
What has your journey been like getting into being a professional artist? I didn't start out with the intention of being a professional artist–I just wanted to find an outlet for the creativity and passion that I had buried deep during my years in the world of business. I suppose it was no surprise in that world I ended up creating new products and businesses as a proxy for my creative longings. The journey has been short but intense. Once I realised that people liked my work, and that strangers were buying from me, I realised that there was a modest living to be made, whilst still making things that appeal to me, and which stretch my capabilities and patience. You create beautiful pieces that have such an interesting gesture to them. Is there a particular form you feel drawn to create? Why? If I can't capture movement in my pieces then I feel I have failed. The greatest compliment people can give me is that they can see or sense movement in my sculptures. For me the greatest exponents of elegant movement are dancers. They are trained to extend their limbs and even fingers to convey emotion and dynamism with a grace, or sometimes power, which I strive to capture. I think what is interesting is that people see this movement and then ask me to apply it to other areas. I have created horses, swimmers, runners and even a monkey, all of which challenge me to produce a fluid piece of work out of linear material.
How do you approach working on a new piece? Lots of staring out of the window! I have to feel inspired by my subject, be it a photograph, or a still from a recorded dance, and I have to be intrigued by the form–either its structural strength or its embodied movement. Often with commissions the approach is to draw and draw and work out how I can turn my drawings into a 3D representation. I remember my first horse sculpture was produced from what amounted to a technical drawing based on a beautiful photograph–every angle was plotted, every muscle measured to get a faithful representation. With dancers I am much more intuitive. I get a feel for the form and movement, and I have to work quickly to capture what is in my mind's eye through the wire. I always start with the feet–any dancer will tell you that if the feet are not right, the pose will not be correct. How do you find inspiration? I am not a disciplined artist. I don't go into the studio at 9 a.m. and come out at 5 p.m. Inspiration for me is a mindset, the ability to think differently about my activity and challenge what I am doing every day. When I am lacking inspiration I go back to old ways of doing things. When I am inspired I will suddenly decide to create a piece of stainless steel abstract wall art, and when I had cracked that it led to a stainless steel garden sculpture over seven feet tall! Both play with light and create their own sense of movement, and this in turn is inspiring me to make larger dance pieces. So inspiration is a journey in itself. What has been your biggest struggle as an artist? How did you overcome it? Lack of confidence in my own ability, and I haven't overcome it! I think any artists who are confident and at peace with their work are rare things. My confidence comes from complete strangers being positive about what they see, particularly if they are prepared to have my work in their homes. I would love to see my work from their perspective to understand what they feel and see. I remember my first ever art exhibition, and I was fascinated to watch the expressions on the faces of people walking by, the way they would stop, stand, and absorb what they were looking at, some would say, “thank you,” and move on often to circle around to stare again.
Do you have any art rituals? No, but I have a very long list of displacement activities! Browsing Pinterest for inspiration, taking Charlie, our fox red Labrador for walks, volunteering to help my wife Caroline in her garden design and maintenance business, cleaning the house and studio (Dyson addict) Reading all the news and gossip about Newcastle United! The list really is endless! What advice would you give to other artists? I am not sure I feel qualified to give advice, but if someone had given me advice a few years ago I would have liked them to advise me that I should create what I want to create, not what someone else wants me to create, to be tough on myself–not everything you produce is good enough for a show or to be sold on a website, and that don't worry, no one knows how to price their art!! What themes do you see in your art? Movement and emotion
As an artist, do you feel you have a role to play in society? I think the last few months have shown that art and artistic activities have been sorely missed, and whilst I don't personally think that what I do is significant in any way, it is the accumulation of artistic endeavour that calms the soul and inspires our society to be gentler and more appreciative of each other. What is something that has really pushed you as an artist? Frustration. [I push myself ] to create sometimes beyond my comfort zone, and also to try and resolve the personal desire to produce something that makes me feel the freedom of creativity and the commercial need to create a piece that will be attractive to buyers. Having spent years in the business world and having not had the opportunity to create, I think in the early days it was a release of the frustration I felt in not having the time to expend energy on the creative process. [My frustration] now is because the market is all but closed and it takes the energy away. Although it has been a great opportunity to work with different materials and formats.
Do you mind sharing tips for artists who are trying to grow their network or fan base? The art scene is probably more crowded and noisier now than ever. This is the result of social media, and the shift away from galleries to direct sales, either at fairs or online. I don't have gallery presence, but awareness for me comes from being active in the local art scene. Success #1 is first getting appreciation from family and friends. Success #2 is gaining appreciation from your local artistic community and the local art market. Success #3 is getting orders from places in the UK you hardly knew existed. Success #4 is an international order. Each one shows that your work has genuine appeal outside of your local bubble. Instagram, Pinterest, and your own web presence all combine to build awareness, but remember: people don't just want to buy your art, they also want to invest in you, so face-to-face is the best way to build and grow your fans.
What are you currently working on? I am working on a commission to create two runners. I am also working on three separate dance sculptures. Hopefully they will be ready to go on the website very soon. Do you have any resources to share? Not really a resource, but I found that Open Studio events are very useful in bringing different artists together, which then creates a strong support network, and also (post COVID-19) give a strong call to action at least once a year! Learn more about Paul Joyner at pauljoynerart.com Follow Paul on instagram @pauljoynerart