We have been huge fans of the work of Barry Goodman for a long time now…and after having had the pleasure to work with Barry on several publishing projects, we can wholeheartedly say that his work is just as lovely as he is! With a long-standing fascination with the world of architecture and automotives, Barry creates beautiful, detailed collagraph prints with the use of cardboard and paper at their very source. We have fallen in love with his London-inspired pieces and their masculine, retro signature.
Since a young age, Barry had always intended on becoming an architect. However, his admiration for motorway fly-overs and huge brutalist buildings – such as London’s South Bank Centre and The Barbican – found an outlet through his paintings, which led to the study of Graphic Design at college before pursing a successful career in Design and illustration. Most people’s career stories would end there quite contentedly. However, 11 years ago Barry decided to step away from his career as a Creative Director within the Advertising/Design industry, and follow his passion to become an artist.
And so Barry returned to painting, and would explore his gritty urban environment with his camera and sketchbook; finding dumped cars, rusted metal and rotting buildings as a wonderful source of inspiration. As a child, Barry had collected old tin toys as a hobby, and this return to rusting automotives found a true resonance within his work. Upon experimenting with printmaking, finding that it allowed for much creative freedom, Barry was able to create editions rather than creating single, one-off paintings; something he had started to feel restricted by. He went on to study printmaking at The London College of Printing, and his true ‘light-bulb’ moment came when he began working and experimenting with collagraphs.
Collagraph plates are created by sticking and gluing materials like textured paper (or in Barry’s case cardboard) onto the plate and then coating it with shelac varnish or an acrylic medium to protect the materials. It was through this process that Barry’s signature style was initially developed. With a growing love of how collagraphs didn’t rely on a ‘science lab’ of hazardous chemicals, Barry would set up work at home on the kitchen table without any limitations. “I usually carry my sketchbook and camera around with me, I never know when I will stumble across something great… either a rain streaked 1960’s concrete structure or an abandoned rusty Fiat, it just has to be recorded. Strangely it transpires that cardboard (Collagraph print) is the material to capture these images”.
Since then, Barry has become a truly collectable artist. His work has been widely exhibited both across the UK and internationally, adorning walls from Streatham to San Francisco, New York to Naples. His work has been published by a number of highly respected publishers including The Almanac Gallery, The Art Group, Quarto Publishing, Art Angels and NP Worldwide. He is a member of The California Society of Printmakers, San Francisco, USA.
Q. How difficult has it been for you to establish yourself as an artist?
A. Anyone who says that it is easy isn’t telling the truth! You go through so much self-doubt, wondering if what you are doing is the right thing, and so you really have to trust your instincts and have self-belief. Deciding to leave my role in the agency world was one of the scariest things I have ever done, but it has been the best decision I have ever made.
Q. I always find it fascinating to see peoples’ working space.. Whether it be their studios or bedrooms, kitchens, garages.. or a tiny space on their living room floor! Please could you describe your working space, to give us a sense of where and how you work?
A. I mainly work from Artichoke Printmaking Workshop – a shared studio and workshop in Brixton, South London, which I absolutely love. It’s a really creative environment where ideas can be shared, and where everyone feeds ideas off each other..and I am fortunate to work alongside several internationally acclaimed printmakers. I have considered setting up a studio from home..which I still may do one day.. But I know for sure that I would really miss the interaction that Artichoke provides. And so I am very happy for now!
Q. What is a typical day for you like?
A. I don’t really have a ‘typical’ day. Although consuming copious amounts of coffee is very typical. It all depends on what projects I am working on at the time. I could be in the workshop experimenting, making plates at the kitchen table or just printing, printing, printing. Like all of us, Summer is my best period – blue sky, early start. On cold Winter days, with cold hands and sticky fast-setting inks, time becomes of the essence. My editions are usually limited to around 40-50 in number, because the plates are constructed from cardboard and paper they are quite fragile and have a limited capacity for successful usability, therefore high editions numbers are not a fact of life for me. But some days I just take time out for myself. I might take a train down to Brighton for the day or lose myself in a gallery and seek some new inspiration – get a change of scenery.
Q. Speaking of trains! Transport is a hugely influential theme within your work. Do you have a favourite subject / mode of transport which you like exploring the most in your imagery?
A. London transport is my absolute favourite.. and I don’t think I couldever get bored of working with the classic Routemaster Bus. I grew up opposite a farm in the country, and didn’t move to London until I was 21yrs old. And so even though I have lived in London for many years, I don’t think my admiration for the capital’s iconic transport will ever wane. At least I hope not!
Q. Would you ever consider relocating, do you think? And if so, where to?
A. I have spent a great deal of time in San Francisco, and so this would be my 2nd home perhaps. It feels very European and is a really exciting and stimulating city..not to mention their beautiful trams! But for now I am still in love with dirty old London.
Q. Who, or what, would you say has been your biggest inspirations for your illustration work?
A. I have always admired and have been influenced by 20th century American art in general. The work of Edward Hopper and Richard Diebenkorn are particular favourites (their work also has travel at its heart), as well as the master of pop, Andy Warhol.
Q. What kind of work adorns your walls at home?
A. I am a real collector and hoarder of vintage things. I have shelves of toys.. A collection of old vintage tin signs.. Travel-themed prints, old car brochures from the 1950’s and 60’s, Russian Soviet posters. Infact, the house and loft is groaning with all the ephemera I have collected, and simply can’t bear to part with!
Q. What would be your dream collaboration or project..or do you have any particular aspirations for the future?
A. I am sure that architecture will reappear within my work, this is a strong possibility for 2012. I would love to hold an exhibition based upon London’s misunderstood, much-maligned brutalist architecture – a love story devoted to concrete and rust! … a dream project for me!
Barry’s website link: http://www.barrygoodman.com