‘Everyone can make art and most of us do when we are little. Somehow that gets knocked out of us as we grow up.’ – ArtAttack Interviews Orson Kartt

Earlier this month, ArtAttack visited The Other Art Fair at Victoria House, London. Strolling through the press preview, we were truly overwhelmed by the vast quantity of excellent work being presented, and made it our mission to speak to every artist who’s art spoke to us in some way.

We decided to interview these artists to give our readers an inside look into the creators behind our favourite works from the fair.

Our first interview in this exciting series, is with artist, Orson Kartt, who shares with us, among other things, personal stories of his difficult entrance into the art world.

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Orson Kartt, ‘I lost the typewriter’

ArtAttack: How did you become involved in creating art and at what point did you realise you wanted to make art your career?

Orson Kartt: I began making art like many children do by drawing cartoons and the like in the playground. Everyone can make art and most of us do when we are little. Somehow that gets knocked out of us as we grow up.  

For me, all was well and I enjoyed drawing until I was told “I was doing it wrong” in a formal art class at [age] 11. It doesn’t take much to extinguish creativity; it’s a fragile thing so  I stopped until I was in my late teens.

At this time I was doing A-levels, none of which were creative, and I failed spectacularly and wandered into the world of dead-end jobs. I ended up working on the oil rigs cooking. The shifts were 2 weeks on and two weeks off so I would work, bring back a bunch of money, get high, drink and make art.

After a few years of this I went back into formal art education; by this stage I kind of figured this is what I do, i.e. make art. It wasn’t so much a career choice as it was an addiction, the challenge was how to pay the bills while making art.

Seven years later I emerged and set up a studio. I was selling fine sculptural pieces through galleries and art fairs globally and in the background experimenting with new concepts and the idea of working with content through imagery. It was a reinvention process from which the series on books evolved.

AA: Much of your work is done on sheet music or book pages. Can you explain the significance of this?

OK: I like books, they have always been in my life. A few years ago I thought they were going to disappear but it turns out that because of the Kindle and other high-tech gadgets they’ve become more popular. There’s something special about  the qualities of an old book – the obvious aging, the stains, even the smell. Then there’s the  democracy of it; we all have books and they have a cultural significance. Tearing a page out of a book and using it is an act of creative vandalism. When I overlay an image onto a page it always relates somehow to the text.

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Orson Kartt, ‘The revolution will not be televised’

AA: Humour and double entendre seem to be an integral part of your practice. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

OK: Humour, certainly. Art has many functions; it can be used as decoration, something  to match your curtains, it can also be something to make you smile and maybe think about things. 

I feel the stance an artist takes is important.  Creating beautiful objects for very rich people to trade and use as status symbols is one thing, but art can have a role beyond this.  We live in a society, a  place where we have beggars on our streets obviously in need of mental health and social care, while our elected government makes cuts in these areas and gets pay increases themselves. Don’t you find this just a little crazy?  

AA: Do you have any future projects lined up you can share with us?

OK: I’m involved with a project for the Alzheimer’s society. It’s a portrait of a famous composer with a motion device placed close by so that a 10 second snippet of music is played as the picture is observed. If you’d like to see how this develops feel free to follow me on Facebook.

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Orson Kartt, ‘Wolf at the door?’

– India Irving

For more on Orson, check out his website.


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