It’s a drizzly Thursday evening in London and I’m meeting the brain child of Colourblind, a man by the name of Alec Saunders at an exhibit showcasing his latest works. The location is Matthew’s Yard which is at the heart of Croydon’s renaissance.
Alec is a twenty something South London or to be more specific Croydon native. Who amongst others known as ‘The Collective’ are at the forefront of the artistic renaissance in London’s largest borough. After being walked through his pieces and taking some photos I sat down with him to better understand the man behind the artist. Who might I add defined ‘sartorial elegence’ in his outfit.
ThatGuyBons: Shall we get this started then mate. First question has to be, what was the moment you realised that art was your chosen path?
Alec: Art is always something that has come quite naturally for me. It’s a natural ability that I think has come from my father who is a Graphic Designer and was part of the team that designed the Channel 4 logo. So you could say ‘father like son’. There are two things I put this level of effort into they are my art and my football.
ThatGuyBons: Where does your inspiration come from?
Alec: Inspiration comes from almost everything, mainly from graffiti artists but if were talking established artists then my main reference points is an artist by the name of Anselm Kiefer. He’s an artist I found at college during my art course, his work utilises a lot of metal work and collage pieces.With me being a collage artist primarily he’s my main source of inspiration. Alongside that there are the now famous street artists Banksy & Obey whose work back in the day I would see on Brick Lane and in the news. I’ve always liked gritty underground art and with a metropolis like London around us it’s a great source of inspiration. Ultimately inspiration surrounds us in everything from music, fashion to random sights, sounds and smells.
ThatGuyBons: In recent times there has been quite a few collage artists, what would you say sets your work apart?
Alec: There are few around as you’ve said but I’ve never focused on them if I’m being honest as I’m still evolving and trying to find myself an artist a process that is continuous, as I’m not a rounded artist and if I’m being honest haven’t been doing it seriously for that long. The more you work the more you identify little intricacies and ways of working which best suit you, that then comes through in your work. For me working with new materials and new textures is what excites me! Where I work mostly free hand it allows my pieces to develop quite organically from the initial idea I have in my mind to the finish piece. I don’t like using computers in the creative process and from that I’m quite old school, I could mass produce some prints but for me it’s more exciting doing one off pieces, probably why I’m still in retail and not doing my art full time. I like to keep my work recognisable by utilising local references in London or even Croydon in particular.
When I’m commissioned by individuals to do pieces I like to use subtle details which create an emotive reaction from the client, as your aware (referring to the work I recent commissioned him to do as a gift in July for my girlfriend, pictured below) or using something key to the client as the actual canvas. That’s what I feel sets me apart.
ThatGuyBons: What’s your creative process like?
Alec: I’m not a big planner like most artists I would say and that’s down to the difference in wiring of the creative mind, we’re not really organised. Obviously there are different people and they maybe organised. I however don’t plan anything! I will have four or five pieces at the same time and do little bits on each piece at a time. I may work on one project and then feel that I’m getting a little bit board of a piece then I feel I’m not giving the work it’s best so I like to keep several going to prevent that from happening. Sometimes there are projects which I do set aside and don’t revisit for long periods, I have projects that have taken me a year to complete. I normally get a concept in my mind of what I’m trying to show or what I’m trying to portray, from there I try and pencil or pen out the idea direct on to the canvas….I literally will never do a plan (exhibitions aside that is) using reference points of information. Mistakes occur but the artwork is adapted to encompass what was once an error. It takes a certain level confidence to work that way but that’s how I like to work and 9/10 I don’t need to make any adaptations. It makes it more exciting for me and more fun which helps to keep in engage and in the feeling behind the idea.
ThatGuyBons: How do you feel being at the forefront of Croydon’s re-branding given the bad press in recent tomes the borough has got?
Alec: I think it started with the impact Croydon had on the UK music with close friends of mine Bennie (Benga) and Skream who pioneered Dubstep. Now it’s arts turn in the borough and with the art 1/4 in Croydon firmly placing local artists on the map we’ll go from strength to strength. This is my passion and the life dream is to work on something that is my passion but at the moment I have to balance that with keeping the lights on at home and the amount of football I play too. It’s something that I will make happen utilising the full 24hrs in the day to create and develop my craft and to show case locally first and one day nationally.
Alec: I was going through some tough personal times along with quite a significant relationship break up which made me sleepless. I just couldn’t switch off but for some reason it made me turn to the one skill that had always come naturally to me and that was art. Now I had studied art in school and in higher education but put it to one side to focus on other things in life but when things got tough art and drawing almost became my own in-house therapy, it gave me something to do during those hours I would normally lay there staring at the celling. Out of a negative environment it gave me a channel to express myself. I’m not saying you need to experience struggle or negativity to create because you will see that there are some real positive pieces in my portfolio, but I can safely say without that experience I wouldn’t be speaking to you today about art.
ThatGuyBons: This has been really insightful delve into the mind of a creative for me and I hope for those reading this post. Where can I and they next see your work?
Alec: There is nothing concrete at the moment but I am en route to meet other members of ‘The Collective’ to discuss what’s next for us. I am in talks with a landowner about doing a container installation in a location in Croydon which is 90% done and is really exciting. To keep up to date I would keep an eye on my site and Instagram accounts (follow the links above in the article) to see what’s up and coming.