Meet

Saxon Quinn

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I live in Melbourne, Australia, but grew up in Allendale, a country town about 1.5 hours away from the city.
What necessities do you require when making your art (radio, specific paintbrushes)?
I need 3 main things when working: 1) coffee - if it’s a day of painting I’ll generally have three coffees, including a long black, a strong almond latte from my local barista and a soy latte in the afternoon; 2) a dry, overcast day - the ideal condition for setting my bases when working with cement; and 3) music/audio - I always have either a cruisy podcast on or music, such as Colter Cole, Action Bronson, Sohn, Jose Gonzalez and Rhye.
When did you begin your current practice?
I began professionally in 2018, but it all came together in 2016 when I was living in NYC for a year. I spent so much time walking the streets and visiting galleries, just taking it all in. My mum visited and saw how good art made me feel that she pushed me to start painting. I decided that when I returned to Australia I would focus my attention on my art.

What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
The main thing would be the unpredictability of the cement. This isn’t necessarily a difficulty, but more a uniqueness. Each bag dries and sets differently, and has different tones and textures, which can affect the initial concepts. Certain areas may set darker where you were hoping they would set light. Patience is another - you need to withhold the urge to begin working on a board once it’s been set and “appears” to be dry.
How important is spontaneity in your art?
Each piece is 50/50 planning and spontaneity. I draw up the initial concept with the main mediums, then I come in after everything is dry and freely add the pastel and lead markings.
Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?
The texture of the cement is definitely left to chance.
Slant
Working with cement informs everything. The material has such a unique texture and dries in such a beautiful way. — Saxon Quinn
How did you decide to start working with cement?
I’ve always travelled, and while traveling I enjoy wandering around, even in Melbourne. I’ve always observed everything around me, whether it be beautiful to all or ugly to some. The interest peaked when living in NYC, since I would travel by foot to most places and would see the aged stoops of buildings, pavements, walls and so on. I love the textures that build over time.
How does your choice of material inform the final piece?
Working with cement informs everything. The material has such a unique texture and dries in such a beautiful way. I generally add oils to the cement after it’s set and sanded, which helps exaggerate the imperfections. From there I work out what elements go where. Depending on how the overall work feels, I’ll either add wording or not.
What themes or motifs are you consistently drawn to?
The urban landscape is a huge influence and continues to be.

How do you know when a piece is complete?
I need to step away from a piece overnight, at the least. If I view it with fresh eyes and can resist the urge to add any little bits and pieces, then I know it’s done. Sometimes I will continue to add rough details and marks right up until the piece leaves my studio.
Have you always worked in painting?
I’ve dabbled with small sculptures in cement. I’ll definitely continue to work with clay in the future. I went down the painting path because of my upbringing, and also because I studied visual design. I still work in design, so I also enjoy mixing the two, to a certain extent.
How has your work as a designer influenced your work/practice?
Having a design background has definitely influenced the way I work in terms of positioning, hierarchy and colour. Much the same as a poster or promotional brand piece, when working on a painting there are key areas that lead your eye.
Slant
I've started to work with the textures and imperfections of the cement more and more, even incorporating spray paint in very minimal ways to highlight the roughness. — Saxon Quinn
Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
Walking around the streets of cities, towns, and countrysides; emotions; Instagram (when it’s not a trap).
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
Cement has definitely kept its place in the development of my works. Some pieces started off very clean - I was always afraid to make mistakes as it’s such an effort to fix them when working with such a textured base. I’ve drawn back the designs over time, allowing for a roughness to come through. I’ve also started to work with the textures and imperfections of the cement more and more, even incorporating spray paint in very minimal ways to highlight the roughness. I’ll continue to minimise certain areas of the works, leaving them bare.
Did you have a mentor?
My mother is definitely my mentor. I grew up in the country with a huge studio that my mum worked from. Growing up I’d always be with her, either playing with clay or making a mess. Mum (Dianne Coulter) is an incredible artist, her works range from figurative and abstract sculptures, to individually-dyed garments and paintings. I definitely draw inspiration from her paintings as they are heavily textured.
Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
When I’m not painting I’m either working on startups or designing other people’s products, which means that I’m constantly on my phone or laptop - always looking at a screen. Art is therapeutic for me, and allows me to escape since I can’t use my phone. If I’m working in my studio, entire days may go by where I don’t pick up my phone. When I’m not painting I’m almost always anxious, stressed and second guessing myself, so art helps me unwind and resolve all of that.

How does art make you feel?
When I know that I have a day of actual painting in the morning I get excited, like someone getting ready to go to a festival on a weekend or something. I love it.
What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?
2 things: a simple lead illustration my mum drew of my late father when he was much younger, and a series of beautiful lace pieces that my mum had for years that she gifted to my partner in such a beautiful way - they still smell of my mum’s perfume and her home.
Do you admire or draw inspiration from any of your peers who are also working now?
I like paying attention to many artists, to name a few: Taylor White, BD Graft, Imi Knoebel, Douglas CantorArmando mesias, Oso (osoparadoart), Randy Perez.
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist? Which photographers and musicians have an impact on your work?
I enjoy a number of photographers, and musicians definitely have an impact on my work. I love all types of music - blues, jazz, rap, and alternative. Other than the mentioned artists I really love to listen to Charles Bradley, Colter Wall, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Fout Tet, Eric Clapton, Queen, Sohn, Angus and Julia Stone, ASAP Ferg, Travis Scott, Leon bridges, Tash Sultana, Glass Animals, older work from Nas, Jay Z, and Biggie. The list goes on!

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