Interview with Dan Baldwin

Born in Manchester , Baldwin studied at Eastbourne College of Art and Design and then Kent Institiute of Art and Design.He lives and works in West Sussex. His work is internationally collected by an exclusive clientele. Baldwin has exhibited his paintings, prints and ceramics around the world. He has enjoyed a stream of sell-out solo shows and presented his work in art fairs in Basel, Miami, L.A, Tokyo, San Francisco, London and New York. 

In 2005, he started to paint pots ,as an extention of his painting practice -  in 2011 he started working alongside Siscilian potter Roberto Gagliano on his vases, pushing boundaries in clay and 3d cast objects which reflect the mixed media objects of his paintings.Their recent pieces are complex two part 'urns' with sculptural lids, 20% pure gold and scale of up to 120cm.

He has donated pieces to a number of charities since 2003, including Redcross,Rainforest Foundation,Kennesaw Skatepark,Big Issue,Willow, Macmillan,Shelter,Murray Parish, and supports the Teenage Cancer Trust and British Heart Foundation currently.



Hi Dan, today MoW selected 5 of your artworks inspired by music. Can you tell MoW how music inspired them ? What was the music behind the artworks ? What inspired you to create them ?

Radar Atom terror (2011)

Radar Atom terror (2011) was an exercise I set myself to show The Prodigy how I would make a painting for them. I know Liam and Maxim and they have some of my art. In the painting there is a skeletal hand, reaching out to grab the Prodigy pills, another reaching the tape spool, and a third going for the radio, these represent Maxim, Liam and Keith. We can also see three skeletal children on an old school TV which represents the three main band members again. There's a skull wearing a cowboy hat which has a Prodigy logo on it, their old star logo. There's the word SEE which came from their track Colours, 'I can see that look in your eyes'. There's a sword, representing the 'warrior' - as they often describe themselves as warriors, a blade, and hand grenade to add some power. Other than that, I listened to the band solidly whilst making the piece to generally FEEL them and make the piece feel right.


Lost Souls - I

Lost Souls - I, this painting was from my 2013 show in London FRAGILE. It fits into the more allegorical mixed media side of my art. It isn't inspired by any particular music, but music would have been playing constantly whilst making them as it is in all my studio practice.


In your book « DAN BALDWIN 23 YEARS » we can read that the piece « THIS IS THE BIG CITY BABY » was a collaboration with Alison Mosshart from the Kills. How did music inspired the piece. How was the creating process working with a music artist ?


The Alison Mosshart project is for a forthcoming book with Waxploitation records director Jeff Antebi, it's called "SFWAM SONGS FOR WORDS AND MUSIC" and he has spent years getting musicians and visual artists together. Like Nick Cave and Anthony Lister, Joe Coleman and Tom Waits. It is going to be massive.

Alison hasn't been feeling anythings they had suggested to her and then our two works collided and it went well. I made a large painting specifically for a long piece of writing she had written whilst with jack White titled "THIS IS THE BIG CITY BABY"  about a wishing well fountain and how kids can't steal money from it as they are stealing peoples dreams and how the freaks come out at night to play. It fitted perfectly to a commissioned work like this. Again, it's not an example of my art going to music, but to writing written by a musician. Needless to say music was playing whilst making it as it constantly is in the studio, and I am a fan of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs.

Why is music important to you and your art? 

Music keeps me going, it keeps me warm. I know that sounds pretentious but it's true. If you're in a cold studio and turn the music off, you feel the cold. If music is on it energizes you, and pulls you through to keep pushing on. Painting can be laborious at times, music drifts the mind away to a place so you can just get through it. Studio time is my time, my indulgence,  that's my private environment and I can be totally indulgent. I listen to a very varied juke box.


If you had to choose between the artworks presented today, which of your artwork would be your favorite ? And why ?

I think Spirit or Lost Souls - possibly Spirit - it has the balance I search for in every painting, you can't take your eyes of it. It's etherial. It took a long time to get the balance right. I get very attached to paintings, and chose this work as the back cover of my first book.


Can you tell MoW more about the techniques you used. How did it start? How long does it take you to make an artwork ?

At the beginning, I start with colour and feeling, gentle brush strokes of colour, movement, a shape becomes a cloud, spontaneous aggression mixed with delicate harmony. Painting over, reworking of elements, keep pushing and reworking and repainting until its close to completion, study it and fine tune it. I bring in selected 3D 'real' elements, hearts crucifix, razor blades...

Do you have plans on creating new artworks inspired by music ?

Not really, most of the art I make is for me, I am just on my own journey, every years collection is unique and moving constantly, but these works can fit to music related projects, like Paolo Nutini using the work from 2011 (Cyclone). That wasn't made for him, thats a 3yr old work that he loved and felt it perfect to the feel and themes in his new album.


Do you listen to music when you’re working ? If so, what kind of music ?

It's the first thing I do when I enter the space. Currently (sept 2014) I have to listen to the new Morrissey album daily "World Peace Is None of Your Business". I realized he has been in my life 30 yrs now since I heard the first Smiths album in 1984, its one of his best albums.

You have to understand I grew up the youngest of 4 children, so when I was young I was exposed to Rochabilly and ska, punk and the new romantics. I was into Madness, Bauhaus, Adam Ant and The Damned. When I was 12 and kids at school were into the top 40 charts. On my CD pile currently is Future Sound of London, an amazing duo who pioneered electronic music. I'm open to all music, I like powerful music, the avant grade singer Klaus Nomi, it's so camp & mental and great all at once, and it was thanks to Morrissey I discovered him. Similarly Roxy Music currently are on the top pile and a friend burned all 9 of their albums so I'll have a few days of nothing else. Very ahead of their time...

Nick Caves new album 'Push The Sky Away' is excellent.

I have been listening to Ty Segalls amazing album Manipulator' recently, It's like Oasis meets Suede - but its got a real old 70s rock vibe.

Also a friend in Ireland burned me a bunch of great albums. The composer Craig Martin's music is excellent, he is the unofficial other member of Massive Attack . I've also been getting into Janes Addiction and Porno for Pyros, thanks to this same friend. I like Mozart as well - anything as long as its good.

I have so much varied music I could just list a few from my Itunes. Boards of Canada, Nas, Damon Albarn, Adam and the Ants, Ali Farke Toure, Beasty Boys, Beautiful South, Beatles, Beck, Bjork, Blur, Bob Dylan, Buddy Rich, Burial, The Clash, The Cult, The Cramps, The Damned, David Bowie, David Holmes, Dj Food, Dj Shadow, The Doors, Dr Dre, Dr Octagon, Elvis, Eminem, The Fall, Graham Coxon, Blur, Gorillaz, Joy Division, Johnny cash, The Who, Aphex Twin, Mozart, Bach, Madness, Beethoven, Kate Bush, J5, King Tubby, The Kinks, Kris Kristofferson, Led Zep, Lee Hazlewood, Bob Wills, Lou reed, Leonard Cohen, Pavarotti, Malcolm McLaren, Martin Stephenson, Massive Attack, Disclosure, Merle Haggard, N.W.A, Nick Cave, The Orb, Paul Heaton, Patti Smith, Pharoahe Monch, Pogues, Primal Scream, Prince, Prodigy, P.I.L, Pulp, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Rolling Stones, Roots Manuva, Ry Cooder, Stray Cats, Sex Pistols, Siouxie And the Banshees, Small Faces, Steve Martin, Talk Talk, Talvin Singh, The The, Tinariwen, Velvet Underground, William Orbit, Wedding Present, Wu Tang Clan, The 57th Dynasty, Zero 7, Hendrix.

I like Rockabilly, Ska, Dub, Classical, Punk, Blues,Country, some weeks I won't go near Hip hop, then it will come back with a vengeance.

What is the song you liked the most lately? The album ? What was the last gig you went to ?

I don't go to gigs often but this year have seen Paolo Nutini twice on his number one album tour. It's only because I've worked with him that I discovered what an amazing singer he is. A few weeks ago we did something very out of the ordinary and went to see The Fat White Family headline in Brighton supported by The Witches, and the Growlers. The Witches new album is on my in pile currently.

Are you a musician yourself ? If so can you tell MoW more about your music projects ? 

I was in a band. We were called Lag Steeple, then Celebricide. I played the drums, we got to the stage where we recorded our first demo and had one gig. The band was a cross between the Fall and something else - not sure what - the front man Tim Leopard studied performance art at Goldsmiths. We were very good but it all fell apart like so many of these projects do, I was too busy making art, the band then formed a second band and it ended. Drumming is a release like skateboarding used to be for me, and now painting is similar, and music - its a release and like a form of therapy .

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