Monday, October 09, 2006

Art Space Talk: Gareth Botha

Gareth Botha is a young, skilled, and determined digital artist who has gained much acclaim over his recent cover art for Seether (http://www.seether.com/home.asp).

Mr. Botha's work can be observed in practically any music store across the United States since the release of Seether's album 'Karma and Effect'. His provocative digital art is eye-catching, to say the least. I'm certain that his success will continue in the near future.

When I first discovered Mr. Botha's art (a few months before the 'Karma and Effect' release) I thought that I was observing work by H.R. Giger. That reveals the depth of Mr. Botha's skill and talent as a digital artist. I can see his work taking many directions in the future.

In my opinion, Mr. Botha's work seems to capture the essence of the struggle between nature and technology. Gareth combines these conflicting forces in a manner that reflects the struggle that we all share between nature and the technological world that we find ourselves in. I find elements of science fiction and aspects of the cyberpunk genre within the context of his images. His work captures a sense of longing for what humankind once had... now perverted by our own creations.

I recently contacted Mr. Botha for an interview. The following text will give you insight into the world of this young artist:

Q. Could you talk a little about your work for Seether. How has it helped your career? How did you feel when you discovered that they accepted your work?

A. "Naturally, after being approached by seether's agent, my initial reaction was to believe that the offer was too good to be true. I suppose it wasn't until I began seeing my artwork on television (commercials on mtv, vh1, comedy central, etc) and on the "top 10" shelves of music stores that I realized the extent of the exposure that one sale had aquired for me. the number of daily hits on my website skyrocketed, and I suddenly began receiving large amounts of emails commenting on my work, and often looking to purchase prints, etc. I even had one guy from the U.K. email me to tell me that he had one of my artworks tattooed across his entire back, which was naturally a huge compliment to me. I was fortunate enough to actually meet up with the band after a show of theirs here in atlanta, and drink a couple beers with them in their tour bus, which was definitely a fun experience."

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "Growing up, I never really had much of an interest in pursuing art. I found art to be beautiful, and I was impressed by those with artistic talent, but I never saw it as a path that I might personally take in my life.

I've always been a shy person, and very withdrawn, so it is only logical that I discovered quite by accident that artistic expressions allowed me to confront my feelings and emotions and portray them to the world better than I ever could verbally."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "On a personal level, I find that art helps me to be more aware of myself as an individual. being an artist helps to gain an understanding of one's self. through art, I've also come to deeply appreciate the beauty of individuality, which lends itself well to establishing an acceptance of myself, my flaws, my strengths, etc. as an art student, I am constantly surrounded by the creative energy of inspired and motivated people. this helps keep me on my toes, so to speak, in friendly competitive creativity. On a professional level, art has essentially shaped the beginning of my career, which hopefully will continue into the future."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I try to keep my art more intimate, personal to me specifcally, but I would be naive to say that it's uninfluenced by society. as an individual, I am a product of society, and therefore its likely as much a part of my work as it is a part of me."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "Much of my work acts as an acknowledgement of things that are insignificant, or not particularly "beautiful" -- sticks, weeds, bugs, etc. I guess you could say that i am influenced by the things that would normally go unnoticed."

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa -- a city riddled with poverty, violence, and prejudice. Having endured a certain degree of unpleasant experience with such a negative environment, I moved to the united states with my family at the age of fourteen. although I have never had any regrets about this change of environments, I believe the sense of loneliness and solitude present in much of my work can be credited to the loss of the only way of life I knew at such an early age. I also believe that it made me a more independent person.

I had my first interests in art in high school, where i was pursuing the field of technical drawing and draftsmanship, looking to use my drawing skills in a marketable fashion. however, I desperately sought more creativity, which led me to my early pursuits in the fields of graphic design and digital art."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I find that the people who are interested in my work are typically fascinated and bewildered by, and can see beauty in, things and ideas that are not traditionally considered beautiful. A reasonable assumption would be that they are not the faint hearted type, to be able to appreciate the often disturbing graphic nature of my work"

Q. Where do you see your art in 10 years? What are your plans?

A. "That's a very difficult question to answer. I find that my art has changed and evolved so much over the past four or five years that I have trouble guessing where it would be next month. although I would like for my art to continue growing, I would also like for it to remain true to its "roots" so to speak, and not venture too far from my style. As for my future plans, I'd like to continue working for the music industry, since digital art lends itself so well to that field."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it? What is your artistic process?

A. "This ('Transmuted'.Image below.), I believe, is one of my favorite works that I've done thus far, which is odd, considering it was created in a very different manner than how I normally work. In all honesty, this image itself was two years in the making. the imagery was based on a dream I had two years prior. I maintain to this day that it was the most vividly beautiful dream I've ever had (the image reflects only a small portion of it).

It started out as an initial idea in my mind as the days, weeks, and months went by where I couldn't get the imagery out of my head. eventually, I decided to try to recreate it as accurately as possible. After many failed attempts, I decided to put it aside as a "long term project." eventually I had to force myself to work on it, balancing my fear of the memory fading with time with my worry of not accurately portraying what i remembered."
Q. Why did you choose the medium that you use?

A. "Although I have been trained in traditional mediums (graphite, charcoal, oil, etc), I choose to work digitally because of the freedom it gives me. Being able to quickly fix mistakes means I am also able to quickly experiment and try new things. This also lets me tweak my work to a higher degree of customization before its finished."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art?

A. "I am currently working on my bachelor's degree in fine arts, and will most likely be attempting a masters degree after that."

Q. Where can we see more of your art? Are you involved with other websites? Do you have a personal website?

A. "I keep most of my art on my personal website, http://www.cleanwaterart.com/ "

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? If not, do you want to be?

A. "Currently, no, although I have been discussing the possibilities with a gallery in Tennessee recently. I am always interested in such opportunities."

Q. How many pieces have you sold in your career?

A. "Thus far, I've directly sold around 25 to 30 artworks. However, my art has been on the album covers, tshirts, posters, etc, of hundreds of thousands of other products. It still boggles my mind every time I accidentally glance over a rack of cd's at a music store and catch a glimpse of my artwork."

Q. Finally, why do you create art?

A. "I create art, because honestly, I can't see myself doing anything else."

Gareth is currently preparing his myartspace.com gallery. I will post where you can find his art on the site once he is finished. I hope you have enjoyed learning about Mr. Botha and his digital art. Feel free to comment on his work.

Take care, Stay True,

Brian Sherwin

4 comments:

Jessica Torrant said...

That was a great interview and I am happy to have been "introduced" to this incredible artist. I love all of Gareth's work, especially the piece inspired by a dream - I'm glad I got to read more about the inspiration behind it.

minerva bloom said...

Fantastic Interview. Great questions Brian! Glad to meet this incredible artists.

I loved to read about his creative process and how "the things that would normally go unnoticed" give his paintings a striking and emotionally moving quality. Thanks for sharing.

timcd said...

This is the kind of work that I really like. Technically spoken it comes close to the work of Giger, but that is a compliment.
Nice done

Anonymous said...

Tremendous interview i was impressed to discover such depth in Gareth as an artist.

I particularly loved the comment about never imagining doing anything else.