We are guilty of spending way too much time glaring at images on Instagram and Pinterest, but when you come across an artist as marvelous as Todd Simpson, that time spent reaps a mighty fine reward. Add to our delight the finding that Todd is a local Melbourne artist.
How would you describe your art in one sentence?
Through my art, I endeavour to convey everyday beauty that is often overlooked in the midst of our busy lives.
Which Artist has had the biggest impact or influence on your work?
I’m in awe of artists with the technical skill to accurately render what they see to the point where you have to question whether you’re looking at a photo or a painting. On a trip to the National Gallery in Canberra many years ago I was spell bound by a photorealistic portrait by US artist Chuck Close that got me started on my journey as an artist.
Your body of work includes sculpture, painting, and portraiture. Which medium has been most successful from a commercial viewpoint?
Definitely the streetscape paintings of the last couple of years, these are typically snapped up within hours of being made available and some have even sold on the basis of a ‘work in progress’ image on social media.
Of all your many awards, is there one that stands out as the most memorable or important?
Last year I was a finalist in the inaugural Darling Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, no trip to Canberra has ever been complete without a trip to the NPG so to be hung amongst so many of my painting heroes was a thrill. Incidentally I also had a painting hanging at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery at the same time so the Trans-Tasman double was special.
How do you get into your creative “zone?”
I’ve found the key to being productive in art as in most things is turning up and getting on with it. I don’t wait to feel in the mood, I have a dedicated studio, my projects well planned in advance and I treat my art like a job. I’m constantly thinking about the next project, gathering ideas and references as I go so I’m never really out of the zone.
Via which online platform do you sell the most art?
Bluethumb – it’s an online space where Australian art is bought and sold and represents over 11,000 artists with more than 230,000 artworks listed. The way art is sold has slowly been moving away from the bricks and mortar galleries to online, a trend that has accelerated since Covid.
What do you find most difficult in running the business side of your Art?
Anything that takes me away from making the art. At the moment it’s the time taken to get artworks uploaded – the photos, artist’s statements, social media posts, and so on, and when an artwork is sold it’s the time taken to pack and ship. Good problems to have though because it means I’m selling.
Can you shed any light on the Art scene in New Zealand versus Australia?
The main difference not surprisingly is scale, Australia has an abundance of public institutions, private galleries, and collectors that just aren’t there in New Zealand, consequently it’s a lot easier to be a starving artist in New Zealand. Other key differences would be the respective influence of Aboriginal and Maori artists on the local scene and the influence of a very different physical environment on what artists choose to create.
Looking ahead, what plans do you have for 2022?
I love what I’m doing at the moment so the plan is more of the same. My first solo exhibition was canceled last year because of Covid and all the works were subsequently sold online through Bluethumb so putting some new pieces aside and working towards a new exhibition in 2022 could be a plan.
“Stilled Screwed Up – Cover Portrait Artist Statement When I was thinking about the artist’s statement for this painting I was tempted to make something of the ambiguity of the title along the lines of the literally screwed up image and a figuratively, lockdown induced psychologically damaged artist. Far from being traumatised by months of the Melbourne lockdown I’ve been fortunate to have endured it with relative ease. The truth lies somewhere between attempting to find an interesting approach to tackling a self-portrait and being no more ‘screwed up’ personally than usual.