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Paul Helm

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating?
I began to be seriously interested in art when I was in my twenties (40 years ago!). I had moved from England to Verona, Italy, got married and started a new job with a big printer/publisher. I was involved in the production of beautiful books for the international market and many of them were books on art. Living in a beautiful town like Verona, you cannot help but soak up the culture, the art, the style that surrounds you. In addition to the 'classical art' in abundance there were also dozens of small galleries where local artists showed their work and browsing these was part of the evening 'promenade'. Then one day I had an accident on my Vespa and was off work for a while. My wife bought me a box of oil paints and that was it - the bug bit!
What is your medium of choice?
I like experimenting and trying different media and mixing them. My current work combines drawing, digital, photo-etching, aquatint, collagraph and custom framing. Having had a framing shop (now closed) I am fortunate in having all the equipment. I have learned the importance of the frame, often it becomes an integral part of my images. I also like mixing high-tech with low-tech. I am a great fan of Photoshop and find its power and possibilities phenomenal. But digital technology cannot (yet) replicate the feel, the smell, the texture, the richness of traditional hand pulled prints. So I am experimenting with making images which combine the old and new technologies.
What are your motivations for creating?
Fame and fortune! Wouldn't we all like to be rich and famous? We all like recognition. But failing that, 'creating' is a very satisfying and therapeutic activity. Boredom doesn't exist any more. There are not enough hours in the day. I'm an addict.
What other artists and movements inform your work?
I have a great admiration for Picasso and David Hockney. I don't like all of their work but what I do admire is that they don't get stuck in a rut. They try different media, different techniques, different styles. Sometimes it works better than others. But it is always interesting. Peter Blake, pop artist and Tom Phillips, painter, writer, composer, translator, are two English artists that I like a lot. Three types of art that have influenced me are Russian icons, English pub signs, and record album art. A lot of my work is square and about 12" x 12" the size of a record sleeve. Often they incorporate both text and a portrait.
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
Google Images! What a fantastic resource. When I want to research a new subject I start with Google Images and lo and behold I am presented with a wealth of relevant matter. What a time saver and more important - how stimulating. But now I want Google Images to be not only the beginning of a project but also the end. I want my finished image to be ranked on the first page of a Google Image search! That is a challenge I have set myself and it should also be very helpful in the marketing of my art.
Read anything good lately?
I have just finished re-reading 'The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: from A to B and Back Again'. You may or may not like his art but artists can learn a lot from him about self-promotion, the marketing of art and how he considered business as art. Instead of considering marketing as a chore, look on it as part of the artistic process - it helps. Also 'Failed States' by Noam Chomsky - mind boggling.
What are some of your artistic goals for the future?
Well 2007 has started off well for me being an EBSQ featured artist for January. I am quite excited at the prospects for online artists in 2007. There are fantastic new resources such as imagekind. Existing resources are improving and becoming more powerful. There are new ideas and concepts. Tagging, social bookmarking, etc. (art 2.0?!) Everything is coming together nicely. So my goal is to really get to grips with the tools that are there, to build my brand and to SELL. Is that an artistic goal? - Andy W would say yes of course.
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
I owe a lot to EBSQ. You have taught me a lot through the forums as have those members in other forums such as eBay, cafepress, etc! Thank you. I will be continuing the series of portraits I am currently working on and exploring new territory in combining modern digital techniques with traditional printmaking. I aim to prove that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!

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