Colin Talcroft runs a blog about unintended art; here is a link to his blog:
Q: What gave you the Idea for your Serendipitous Art blog?
A: I’d been capturing unintended art for many years before I began Serendipitous Art. I’ve always enjoyed recording bits of the world that looked like art to me, but I’d never had a place to bring them together. The appearance of blogging and, more importantly, the appearance of easy-to-use, free blog-hosting websites, made it possible to collect favorite snippets and to share them with the world. It seemed obvious once the opportunity was there.
Q: What is your own personal background in art?
A: I have no formal training in art beyond a few college figure drawing classes. I’ve been photographing since I was 8 years old. I still have the first negative I made (a shot of our cat throwing a long shadow as it stretched on the back patio of one of my childhood homes; I used my mother’s Kodak Brownie camera). I started drawing before that, from before I can remember. In first grade I filled a movable blackboard with an undersea scene with sharks and dolphins and ropes of kelp twisting up from the ocean floor. The teacher liked it so much she set the blackboard aside for months until open house–my first show.
Q: What is the most interesting piece of unintended art that you have found?
A: The next one is always the one I’m most interested in–the one I haven’t found yet. Having said that, the floors of parking garages and city streets are among the richest sources of unintended art. Look down for art. One of my all-time favorites was created by condensation under the glass covering an in-ground spotlight in front of San Francisco’s De Young Museum. Someone had covered the glass with a big X of blue masking tape. Beautiful.
Q: What do you look for in a piece of unintended art?
A: I wish I had a coherent theory of abstract art, but I don’t. I have an eye for composition. I don’t know where it comes from, but seeing and wanting to see have become habitual. Whether it’s something in artwork I create myself–something emerging from the chaos as I work–or just a happened-upon-but-compelling juxtaposition of color, line, form, or texture originally unintended as art, I know it when I see it. Recognition itself is a large part of what makes it art. In the context of my blog, it’s art if I say it’s art.
Q: What do you like about the art scene in California?
A: I like that there’s a comparatively high level of appreciation of local art in California. Even smaller cities have many active artists and galleries showing work, it seems. Many artists participate in open studio events, and community art centers that show local artists are more common here than in many other places.
Q: What would you change about it if you could?
A: Despite my remarks above, it can be hard to find affordable studio space and to find opportunities to show work that don’t involve giving up so large a percentage of sales to the gallery that selling work is almost pointless. It would be nice to have even more community-supported gallery space.
Q: What kind of work do you do and how does it affect your artistic sensibilities?
A: I translate Japanese financial research into English. I lived in Japan for nearly 20 years, spending about six of those years working for a stockbroker as a securities analyst—which seems fairly surreal in retrospect; my academic background is in language and literature. I don’t think my current employment has much of a bearing on my artistic sensibilities, if any at all, but I’m grateful my day job pays well enough that I can afford to live in a bountiful, beautiful part of the world and that it allows me enough free time to do things like make art.
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists?
A: I can’t point to just one or two artists I especially admire. I love art. I don’t really care who makes it. If I had to list famous names, I’d probably say Eduardo Chillida, the Basque sculptor and printmaker; Antoni Tapiés, the Catalan painter and printmaker; Victor Pasmore; Ben Nicholson; Martin Puryear; Charles Sheeler and early 20th century American art in general; and Richard Diebenkorn; and people like Paul Strand, Louis Faurer, Ray K. Metzker, and Hendrik Kerstens among photographers–but I could go on for hours listing famous names. One of the most exciting artists I’ve recently encountered is not widely known yet—Japanese-American collage artist Yuko Kimura. These artists share a modern sensibility coupled with a deep sense of craft. But nameless artists all over the world make great art every day.
Q: Where is the most unexpected place you have ever found unintended art?
A: It’s never really expected. That’s why it’s fun. That’s why it’s serendipitous art. It does turn up in odd places. I recently photographed a beautiful set of metal blades on a baggage carousel, a rusted saw blade screwed to the side of a house, and the battered vanes of an old air conditioner hanging out a window, for example—all fairly unlikely places to find art—but it’s everywhere. Art is virtually everywhere.
Q: What makes someone an artist?
A: I think anyone who suffers from the compulsion to create is an artist, whether they know it or not, but an artist is someone who does create. Too many people seem to wish they were artists without ever doing very much.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)