Meet

William Luz

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I’m from Stourbridge in the middle of the UK, I am currently based in the South West after living for some time in the north and in London.
Why the move?
London was a great influence and inspiration and as a city it is an incredibly fascinating place. It was an ideal place to be whilst I was working myself out as an artist as there is so much to see and soak up and other artists draw and learn from. I felt it necessary to come somewhere a bit quieter, calmer, and slower to process all the things I’d seen and thought. I find it difficult to create the space and time needed to think more freely in a big city – you can keep on running, but sometimes it’s important to stop and work out where you re going. Starting a family and needing physical space also prompted the move, that and a desire for a proximity to inspiring landscape and the sea.
What necessities do you require when making your art?
Time, a pencil and paper, and music. A pencil is essential as all of my work starts with drawing, but I only need necessary materials if I’m going to do something very specific. At beginning of work I like to experiment with materials, responding to what is available and around me.
How do you choose your materials?
A lot of the time they are what comes to hand, what I have lying around, can access for free or cheaply. Again, this is due to struggling with decision making, if proximity or fate can help me then I’ll let them. It also makes it feel more like problem solving, making something from nothing, rather than premeditating too much.
Are there any materials you’ve returned to over and over?
Pencil and ink, but then I think I’m especially interested in the combination of materials. Sometimes, you can only get a certain color, surface texture, or form from a certain material, and a combination of these specific elements can be really satisfying.
Describe a typical day in the studio for you.
A good day starts with working in a sketchbook, this may be to work out something particular or simply to loosen up. At the moment I’ve just come out of creating work for a show in Portugal and am showing some work in Tokyo in the spring, so I’m looking to work on and develop some of the work that was shown in Porto. I try not to place too much pressure on a day in the studio, sometimes I need to simply draw and watch and listen to what happens, other times it can be far more directed.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Finishing. I struggle making decisions at the best of times, the fun is when there is little responsibility on the work to be anything or to satisfy a specific expectation. It’s not necessarily knowing what to finish or when it is finished but just deciding to finish something can be difficult, as that’s when it becomes more serious and things can go ‘wrong’, before then it’s all just play.
Slant
I try not to place too much pressure on a day in the studio, sometimes I need to simply draw and watch and listen to what happens, other times it can be far more directed. — William Luz
How do you know when something is finished?
A familiar answer (and what I previously believed) would have been when there is nothing else to do to it. This still holds true to a degree, but I feel there is always things you could do – adding extra elements or even cropping the paper, mounting, or thinking about different methods of display. So, now I feel that it is more about finding what feels right in terms of the amount of information that is present and the information that is missing or silent: like an instrumental song that suggests a lyrical refrain or a vocal line that leaves space for you to add a harmony. For me, it’s about giving enough information so there is the suggestion of something but leaving room for an audience to bring something new to it.
Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I think I have a fairly terrible visual imagination. I struggle to visualize things and I feel that if I can picture something too easily that I’ve maybe seen it before.
Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
It may sound a bit cloying, but everything inspires me. My day-to-day experience is my inspiration. I respond to my visual landscape and the things I engage with, experience, and think about. I’m interested in art being part of the everyday, not something that is detached. That doesn’t mean it can’t be cerebral or intellectualized, but I want to communicate something about the lived experience.
How do you incorporate chance in your creative process?
Chance is important to my work, in mixing of colors, availability of materials, unpredictable behaviors of mediums and even just what I end up seeing, and then drawing and then abstracting. I specifically leave space in the work for things to happen that I have less control over. That way I’m surprised and I can’t have as much specific idea of what to expect and then it can’t necessarily be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Just good or not.
Slant
It is more about finding what feels right in terms of the amount of information that is present and the information that is missing or silent:... it’s about giving enough information so there is the suggestion of something but leaving room for an audience to bring something new to it. — William Luz
How do the different shapes come together in your works?
It’s about finding combinations that feel natural and organic, like they have always been like that, although they may be teetering on the edge of collapse.
What themes or motifs are you consistently drawn to?
I use a recurring set of motifs and forms, this is more about limiting my options than using them to say something specifically, but they are mostly fluid and the colors I use are bright, but hopefully harmonious and calming. I like Matisse’s desire to create an art that brings comfort and joy.
Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
Conceptually, I’m really inspired by John Cage, especially in relation to his acceptance and use of chance procedures and letting what happens happen. I love to watch certain forms of dance: the first time I saw a Merce Cunningham performance I was awestruck, I still go back to drawing from his dances a lot. I try and read as much as I can (which isn’t easy with a one year old around) and there are a few authors I often return to: Ali Smith and Tove Janson both inspire for their degree of observation, perception, and sheer joy in the little moments of life. I also love Richard Brautigan and Ivor Cutler for their playfulness. I think teaching helped me appreciate and learn how to be indirectly influenced by people doing things that are very different from what I want to do visually or conceptually.
Slant
I’m interested in art being part of the everyday, not something that is detached. That doesn’t mean it can’t be cerebral or intellectualized, but I want to communicate something about the lived experience. — William Luz
How important is spontaneity in your art?
I try to be as spontaneous as possible, at some times that’s easier than others, and it’s also more appropriate to certain mediums than others. When performing music this seems most clear, in that I have a number of prepared segments and notions of what I might do, but around those themes it is improvised. It’s the same with visual art making, I have motifs and structures that I use and work around but try to not have an idea of a finished thing before I start.
Are you formally trained?
I have always enjoyed and studied drawing and art making, but took graphic design at university. I think this influenced my focus on composition and desire for direct visual communication. I have had some good teachers, but the people who have influenced me the most are the other two members of Nous Vous collective who I’ve known, been friends, and worked with for the last 12 years. Our collaborations and continued conversations have been like an informal and extended arts education, we are always pushing and supporting each other and it has been a real privilege to work with such talented friends.
Do you still collaborate with Nous Vous?
Our collective is now spread across the UK, so we don’t collaborate as much as we used to and are all focusing more on our independent commercial or personal practices. I often need the input of others, but prefer personal headspace to make and think.
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
It has got more focused. I used to be far more general in my approach, it was a fun time when I was trying lots of things and making work that felt quite free, but it was often derivative and lacked a coherent vision collectively. I feel much more confident in my ability now. Even if I’m still insecure what I might make day to day, I’m at least more trusting of myself.

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