Stephen Baker makes bold use of the banal everyday. Reducing scenes to geometric shapes, block colours and heavy line-work, the Australian artist focuses on “capturing the moment” without unnecessary embellishment. We suddenly realise that toilet doors across the world are in need of a makeover…
When did your current style truly start to develop?
A few years ago I moved from quite delicate and detailed figurative line work to a more minimalist approach. Simplifying the structures within my subject matter, reducing the forms down to single line strokes and bold block colours. I wanted to leave out surface details and concentrate on capturing the moment without any unnecessary distractions.
Do you have any unlikely inspirations?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Jack Kerouac’s old records recently. I love the translation from what he sees and experiences into writings and beat poetry. To me he objectively compiles everything as it happens into an almost rhythm, a jazz beat that resembles life around him. I’m inspired by this execution of perception, I try to capture the nuances in everyday life the way I feel he does in my work.
How do you projects take shape? Talk us through the process.
Most of my work starts from free form sketches of places I’ve been to or inspired by photographs I’ve taken as reference. I’ll take these sketches and re-size for larger canvas works and begin to fill in larger areas with block colour, applying my line work last. I’ll use my computer for projects that require a digital output, but pretty much works the same way. I use my computer for developing colour combinations sometimes, and use these palettes as a guide for when I mix my paints.
What role does colour play in your work?
I use colour to draw the eye to certain spots on the work, or to push and pull back the shapes, colour also helps to link a body of work and attach it to a common thread. I also use colour to control a level of abstract throughout my work. Unconventional colour arrangements create a more abstract piece I find, the less representational of real life they are, the more one finds it difficult to figuratively piece together.
What kind of home do you imagine your work hanging on the walls of?
I can see it in many styles of homes I think. You would probably think they’d have to be sitting in a minimal/modernist style setting, but I don’t think that’s the only setting for my work. I think you just have to be conscience of the colour palette within the works and look at how that works back with the room.
Fill in the gap – ‘The…….., the better’.
‘The looser, the better’. I’m always trying to loosen up in the way I work, the way I approach ideas and life. Loose and free is the way to be.
Make sure to check out his latest magazine cover interpretations on Instagram.
Words by Alice Freeman
Featuring Stephen Baker www.stephenbakerstockroom.com