With the recent launch of UAL Future Creatives, which provides art and design courses for kids and teenagers across the UK, we decided to catch up with one of the teachers of these new courses. We joined Roger for his 11-17 after school class in Cambridge...
How did you come to work as an artist?
At school, drawing was always the thing that made me stand apart. I went on to do a degree in sculpture, then went to art college and then America. After a few grotty jobs I decided to become an artist, starting with a residency through a local arts programme in the East Midlands.
Afterwards I started teaching in London, spending about 20 years working in Further Education, before doing an MA at UAL: Central Saint Martins (CSM) which is how I established my link with UAL. More recently I’ve been working part time and exhibiting nationally.
Are you able to tell me a bit more about your own creative practice?
While I was at CSM I got very interested in building and the materials they used. I use plasterboard as a starting point, and have learnt building trades including plastering, so that method of building and using materials that don’t come into the normal art canon has been really important to me. I like working with found materials and discarded paint colours, and I work in an abstract way, because I like work that has its own identity.
So what was it that made you want to teach with Future Creatives, and why is creativity so important for young people?
I’m really into the idea that if it hadn’t been for someone saying “have you thought about this?” I wouldn’t be where I am today. So I want to provide that push for the next generation.
Art and creativity has such a massive impact that’s a bit submerged because it isn’t seen as a ‘proper job’. But the creative industries make as much money as the banking sector in this country, and it’s so diverse between music, TV, visual art and drama.
It’s always good for kids to know that there’s careers out there. It’s not easy, but it’s a different point of view, and we need creative people to get us out of the mess we’re in at the moment.
What are you teaching on your current Future Creatives course?
The current project is around the theme ‘I see faces in places’, which has been an exploration of finding a face in everyday objects and situations. The psychological effect is known as pareidolia and has successfully been used by surrealists and contemporary artists like John Stezaker to make us look at the world in a different way.
Our students engaged in different collage, drawing, photography and making processes to create masks that fuse the shapes of everyday objects with influences from tribal masks.
What advice do you have for our aspiring creatives?
Draw draw draw, all day long! Scribble on things, be experimental. Don’t beat yourself up about what it looks like and have fun.
Go and see some art. The world is better in this respect for new generations because when I grew up we didn’t have Instagram and the internet. But you can access amazing artists’ work, and even have conversations with them. Harness the power of that thing in your pocket.
Draw, paint, make and do, find out what you’re good at and come to a Future Creatives course!