Dion Kitson: Artists Inside The Industry

'Wotsit Wig' (2020)

Dion Kitson makes everything.

Well, if not ‘everything’, certainly ‘most things’.

“Determined never to settle down to one thing” the artist’s portfolio spans sculpture, film, collage, text-art, and sound.  His inspiration comes from all angles: The midlands, overheard conversations, Fred Astaire, TV, and rubbish. The mundane as much as the glamourous.

Dion Kiston

I’m a subject matter butterfly, it’s the internet’s fault. My hometown Dudley is the tenth muse, so a lot of my work is in response experiencing growing up here

Dion Kitson

“My practice is reactive, if something pisses me off then an artwork will reflect that, but I don’t want to ride in on some moral high horse proclaiming I have all the answers. I gave up on all hope after the worlds largest frazzle made headline news.”

In July Kitson released a “touring exhibition within a publication”. The glossy magazine (in an edition of 50) showed a selection of his works, and was sent out first-come-first-served at “£0 + VAT”.  The first page asks the reader to sign the “guest book”, view the pieces, and then pass it on. It’s an ingenious throwback to old-school dissemination.

In an exclusive interview with Art Plugged, Dion spoke to us about scepticism as part of being an artist, taking yourself too seriously, and how Dudley is a universal metaphor.

Q: First things first, why do you do what you do? 

A: Instinct.

Q: What is your inspiration?

A: I’m a subject matter butterfly, it’s the internet’s fault. My hometown Dudley is the tenth muse, so a lot of my work is in response experiencing growing up here, searching for the miraculous in the mundane of a post industrial town. 

‘Wotsit Wig’ (2020)

I believe Dudley is a universal metaphor for most of the country, places that exist on hope and promise but trail pathos and disappointment. I think this reveals the underbelly of the British Psyche. I follow my nose, if something excites me then its worthy of exploring.

This can be anything, from Chips, Black Rod, Fred Astaire, a football in the canal or Fanny Craddock murdering an omelette. Art is simple, human beings are complex. Currently I’m researching the Dudley Radicalism movement of 1834 and the history of the working class movement between 1750 -1832. Socialism before Marx, in Dudley, who would have thought that?

Q: What is your creative process?

A: I’m always plugged in, so I’m never really not working. If anything I don’t know what is not my creative process. I made some jelly the other day, I wasn’t sure if I was prepping possible sculptures or a dessert. I joke that some of my work is just procrastination in making other work. Word play seems to be vitally important to my process too.

I think in rhyme both verbal and visual. But genuinely I get out of bed and think: “right, what can I make today”. This sometimes can become a very dada day, making a wig made out of Wotsits as an ode to Bob Mortimer, or filling a football up with a full English breakfast. Other days are really serious, concrete casts, film making or designing more publications. 

Bankroll-2020
Q: Which is your preferred surface for working on?

A: I’m a bit of jack of all trades master of none. I don’t really have a medium. I’m determined never to settle down to one thing.

Q: What would you say is an integral part to the work of an Artist?

A: Scepticism – Be sceptical all the time, be sceptical about everything everyday, The left, The right, The wrong, The right. It’s important to be happy, if your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.

‘Buoy’ 2020
Q: What is the reason behind your use of political statements and everyday objects in your works?

A: To re-frame then in a different setting, you’ll hear them said on the radio, butchers shop, or on the bus. They become ear worms, so I use art as a dustbin to get rid of them. It’s only natural to see the everyday as political, especially during a global pandemic.

I can’t go anywhere without hearing television tropes repeated on benches or in cash machine queues. I try to make work with multi layered subtexts, one of these layers will be a political poke. My practice is reactive, if something pisses me off then an artwork will reflect that, but I don’t want to ride in on some moral high horse proclaiming I have all the answers. I gave up on all hope after the worlds largest frazzle made headline news. 

Q: How do you know when a piece is finished?

A: If it sings it sings. I usually have around 10 pieces being made at the same time, this means my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is in check, some work can take months, others minutes.

Q: What is your favourite piece from your collection?

A: Rolling Tobacco (2020), I don’t think its the best work I’ve done, but I found the tin in a field, the next day I stuck some wheels on it and I had stumbled upon a harmony.

Rolling Tobacco (2020)
Q: How did you feel when you did your first solo exhibition?

A: Relieved, I thought it would never happen. It’s great fun and an honour to meet galleries and curators who can see what you’re trying do and to help facilitate it. Linzi Stauvers at Ikon Gallery is a godsend.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing for you about being a part of the Art Industry?

A: Being able to interact with creatives. I’ve grown up in a cultural desert, so being able to open up dialogues within the industry is incredibly rewarding for me. It’s like a family, there’s arguments, but deep down we all love each other.

Q: Is there anything that worries you about how social media is affecting the promotion of artists?

A: I try to imagine what Duchamp would have done with social media. Prelude to a broken screen. The problem with artists online is they take themselves too seriously. It’s connecting everyone and Art has its biggest audience in its history, while being the most accessible. This might be a good thing or it might dilute it. Art should always be accessible to everyone, all the time. The virtual wall shouldn’t replace the gallery wall, or should it?

Chipped-2020
Q: In your opinion, do you have any advice for artists on how to manage their social media image? Or does it even need managing?

A: Be interesting and try not to care too much, my biggest advice would be try your best to photograph works professionally, it goes a long way and it’s just good practice. 

The  digital ‘image’ is what we project for the world to see while hiding our boring mundane existence, everyone online is drinking cocktails, looking fantastic, rich and woke. It’s an onslaught the goalposts are in constant flux. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re being listened to. Social media has created the age of the individual, it’s a room full of people shouting and nobody listening,  sit in the corner, observe this, take notes.

Q: Do you have any advice for artists starting and don’t know where to begin?

A: Work makes work, work hard, work all the time. Don’t listen to many people, you’ll find your own way and methods of navigation along the way. A great start is a website. This can be your space to curate whatever you want, collate your portfolio, write shit, whatever you want. Don’t try to belong to something, there’s no such thing as community, especially a digital one.

‘Fat-Bastard’ 2020
Q: What would you say is the best way of getting your art noticed in the age of the Internet?

A: If you make great work, everything will be fine.

Q:  Are there any places where you feel Art and Technology really shouldn’t overlap?

A: Who am I to say? I find it beautiful I can have sculptures that are currently in storage but exist as an mp4 in public, on a virtual wall within a digital realm, however nothing will beat the real thing.

https://www.instagram.com/dion.kitson/

All Rights Reserved © Copyright Dion Kitson 2020

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