An INtyVoow...

Actual interview is here http://bluntedpresents.co.uk/2009/01/22/collective-era-interview/

1) Please introduce yourselves, and your creative style

Layla: We are Layla, Chris and Tom, visual artists who have the dubious pleasure of being part of Collective-Era. We’ve been working together as a group for two years but have known each other for a lot longer.

Chris: I don’t think we’d want to define our creative style beyond the fact that we are basically painters. Our images are what they are and hopefully stand up by themselves without the need to be categorised…

2) Does music influence the art that you produce, if so then how?

Chris: Music definitely influences us massively. We’re all into loads of different music and have all made or produced music at various points. I think music has probably been more important to us than art. When we started the collective we were talking about it almost like it would be a record label for art. When we collaborate on paintings it works a lot like how musicians improvise together, we each add and respond to what the others have done and the paintings build and morph in unpredictable ways. We always have music on when we paint…

3) Your style is unique, was it something that developed organically or were there specific influences to shape it?

Layla: We all have individual angles to our work that has been developing since we began to create art. For example, I can see early traces of my fascination with line drawing from my school artwork age 13. The more you practice, the more it is unleashed. Once we came together, after admiring each other's style, the influence between us started to affect our production, first in individual work and later in collaboration. It has gradually become more complex, filling every possible space on the canvas in every possible colour. There has been an organic development between us over time, with appreciation for individuality. It’s almost like our collaborations are the love child of the combination, a natural and inevitable result of working together. Each of us has many different sources of inspiration, as well as many shared ones.

4) You've delved video and animation too, how does the creative thought process differ from putting a piece down on canvas and do you have a favourite?

Tom: The video work is an interesting crossover. It uses almost exactly the same automatic thought process as creating an image, except you’re creating many images in sequence and applying this extra element, time. Producing visuals at club nights and gigs, you notice the way the image translates to sound at the time they both happen, and how they relate. There are a lot of similarities between sound, image and moving image, they are all inspirational in their own way. Mixing them together can be explosive.
I’m planning to create some animated shorts in the near future, mixing the music and visuals I have been producing.

5) Your pieces look like direct streams of consciousness, with their intricacies and colours. Is what comes out, straight from the brain to canvas or planned and developed first?

Layla: Nothing is planned once we are working together, although occasionally we may take inspiration from a past sketch, use a cut-out collage thing or add a stencil. It is important to look at the spaces within the work and see shapes, lines or characters within; the mind imagines and the hand creates. The works usually have a foundation laid down consisting of lines and forms. These are then worked into gradually. When the work is made and not considered too closely, it seems you eventually discover what your mind is actually thinking, or trying to say through image. Ultimately, it is a stream of consciousness direct from the brain, under a certain amount of analysis.

6) Do you think that art should be used as a platform to comment on political issues?

Tom: The act of creating is political in itself: you can create new culture and build a new world, instead of mindlessly consuming the manufactured one we are spoon-fed .The real goal of Collective-Era is to use art to inspire creativity and imagination, the two fundamental sources of new thought. What we need is a strong culture of creative people with open and inspired minds of their own, inspired to think of solutions to problems like mass-media/political control.

7) What is the most artistically challenging project you've done and why?

Chris: I’m not sure what’s been the most challenging… We are always trying to push ourselves to improve or try new things. We definitely don’t just want to remain as one static thing which people will get bored of so we’re always challenging ourselves to approach things differently. Every show we’ve put on has been fairly different from the others. When you go into an art gallery and you have a limited time to turn it into something interesting before people arrive then that’s a challenge, but it’s also a huge buzz!

8) What does 2009 hold for Collective- Era??

Chris: At the moment we’re preparing for our next show. We’re back in Oxford and taking over the Jam Factory for a month! (The show ‘Chaos in the Continuum’ starts on the 9th February and is on until 3rd March). Also just before that (On 24th January) we’re doing a VJ set for ‘Attack of the…’ at Milano’s on Cowley Road. As for the rest of 2009 we’ve recently relocated to Brighton so we’re hopefully going to get stuck into something here pretty soon…