Shy, modest, and introverted are words you wouldn’t associate with today’s spotlight artist Mason Storm.
He was recently splashed across the pages of the Mail on Sunday due to an article we wrote, linking him to the £10m Banksy painting ‘Devolved Parliament’. Today the balaclava-clad, larger-than-life artist kindly spent some time answering our questions…
A bit like a certain well-known stencil artist, you’ve managed to shroud yourself in mystery. Can you tell us a bit about you, your background, and how you got into this crazy art game?
I was doing judo at a local youth centre and one night the judo was cancelled so I wandered into the art class where my mate was and never left, well I mean I did leave each evening but stayed for like 20 years. There were no set lessons you just turned up and did what you fancied, sculpting, painting, pottery, photography.
The art room was run by an amazing fella called Alan Clayden, a true inspiration and a good friend, who is sadly no longer with us. It was also full of degree students who used the room for extra time to paint… and the cheap materials, so if you had a problem they would just say do this or that. Basically we got a degree class education for about 30p a night!
Many of those tutors are leading lights in the U.K. contemporary art scene and great friends
You are clearly an admirer of the classic masters. Who in particular do you hold in high regard?
Well Caravaggio is my absolute favourite, sublime paintings, a philandering Bad boy who enjoyed all life’s vices , used his art to fund his lifestyle, then disappeared, what a guy!
Van Gogh, a no brainer, mad as a bag of frogs. Rembrandt, amazing talent and a money making machine who spent it all on lovely things! Duchamp, absolute piss taker! Giacometti, another character enjoying the finer things!
Then there’s all today’s faves, Hirst, Ron Mueck, Koons, Mauritizio Catalan, Robert Sample, Jeremy Geddes, Mitch Griffiths (even though he wouldn’t sign my book) Ai Wei Wei, my mate Phil Kristian Von Hornslethh and all of the worlds amazing forgers especially Han Van Meegeren, Woolfgang Beltracchi, Tom Keating. So my tastes are pretty wide.
We love the ‘Storm Spin’ you put in your versions of classic paintings. How do you come up with your ideas? What inspires you?
My ideas come from, like most artists, my history, my sense of humour, my upbringing and the people and influences around me.
I love movies, TV and comic books, classical literature, anything quirky and offbeat, so sometimes I’ll see an image and merge it.
For example, my version of Caravaggio’s ‘Taking of Christ’ merged with popular culture gave rise to my ‘Bigger Than Lennon’. Or a subject or idea might arise after reading a book. I did some scrabble board sculptures after reading a book on tracking drug cartels in Columbia.
Literally an inspiration or idea can be found anywhere, they don’t all necessarily work but it’s worth a try. I suppose the things I do are just my brain farts made flesh.
You exhibit a lot of your work through Simon Skint’s Reload Gallery. How did this come about?
I got an email one day from a fella who asked if I would put stuff in his gallery. The next thing I know he actually went and opened one, so I was morally obliged and he’s held me to that verbal contract and I can’t get out of it. I’m locked in for the foreseeable, he’s ruthless!
You recently launched your own artist agency ‘Artist Asylum’. How are you finding this experience?
Managing artists is like sticking your head into a box of startled angry cats, painful and not in a good way!
Since the article broke I’m suddenly a very important artist. I’ve always know this but now the wider public have come around to my way of thinking. I still make my first cup of coffee, but if my driver, maid, barber and chef are late in the mornings, I can get more than a bit tetchy!
What are your thoughts on the current UK art scene?
The current U.K. art scene is wholly representative of the talent in this country, it’s non elitist, it’s not incestious, it’s not sewn up by an entitled elite or trust fund Charlie’s or money laundering rogues! *
*(I Say this as I’m hoping for a big gallery to take me on and hike my prices to the point where my conscience and morals are eclipsed by a motorcycle collection and air miles)
What advice would you give to artists just starting out?
For an artist starting out I would say hone your craft before concentrating on your ‘image’. The work needs to be good. Don’t worry about whether you’re the ‘finished article’ yet, I’m not the finished article, so create your work and enjoy the process.
Don’t expect to be a millionaire Instagram sensation overnight. Having said that there are some artists who are overnight Instagram millionaires, whose work is abysmal, so what do I know!
What’s next for Mason Storm?
Next up, I have a show coming up in Copenhagen in 2020, a bundle of commissions to work on and new body of work called alternative universe, you know the kinda thing, Mother Theresa as an MMA fighter Jesus as a scaffolder, and who knows what.
Some more holidays, more motorcycles and made to measure Prada underpants.