As May begins and we start to edge towards some semblance of summer, galleries across London start to wheel out a host of exciting and engaging exhibitions. Today sees the opening of one such show, with artist Von’s new work on display at KK Outlet. To truly appreciate the skill that goes into Von’s painstaking pencil drawings you really need to get up close and personal with them and Elsewhere shows off his skills at their finest.
The drawings are based on a series of photographs taken by Dan Sully and Von has also collaborated with four graphic designers – Hort, Non-Format, David Pearson and Darren Firth – to produce bespoke posters for the show.
We caught up with Von to find out a bit more about the exhibition…
What would you say is the overarching theme of Elsewhere?
The concept of the show stems from walks into central London and increasingly catching sight of someone in a cafe or through an office window, totally enveloped in their own world. It was such a rare, momentary and, on some level, personal thing to witness; it really stuck in my mind.
Moments to ourselves seem to be becoming rarer, particularly living in a city as we are advertised at practically everywhere. We reach for our smartphones whenever there’s a few seconds to kill and sharing our day-to-day lives online is almost a pressure. All this made witnessing those people’s lost moments such a fantastic and fragile thing. The 22 original works created for the exhibition explore that involuntary process of slipping away from our surroundings, appearing to others to be completely elsewhere
How did the collaboration with Dan Sully come about? What is it about Dan’s photography that appeals to you?
I’ve known Dan for a few years now through a mutual friend. He is primarily a director and I’ve long been a fan of his moving image work but it was at some point last year I happened across a personal photography project of his of people on night buses that really caught my attention.
It seemed to focus on similar interests, really striking a chord with the ideas I had begun playing around with – not least a slightly voyeuristic fascination with people when they’re totally zoned-out. I knew I wanted to work with a photographer on this and he seemed like the perfect guy for the job.
“At points it does feel like a self-imposed endurance test but now it’s over it’s all quickly forgotten.”
You sometimes work with very big clients, how do you find balancing the commercial and personal sides of your practice?
The last few years have been so busy with commercial work that I’ve not really had time to concentrate on doing a show for a long time. That’s one of the main reasons that I set up ShopVon as it provides me with an output for personal work in the form of seasonally released, limited edition prints, originals and collector’s box-sets.
I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of great clients but taking a bit of time away from that at the beginning of this year to focus on Elsewhere has been really satisfying – a much relished opportunity to really push myself again.
We hear a lot about the emotional challenges of the creative process but can you tell us about the physical effort that goes into creating your work?
It is long hours both creating the work and from an organisational point of view. I’m up at 6am and working till 11pm pretty much every day. For the large originals I’m on my feet solidly for days on end and inevitably there’s a bit of hand-ache involved. At points it does feel like a self-imposed endurance test but now it’s over it’s all quickly forgotten.
Your partner (Emily Forgot) is also a creative, do you bounce ideas off each other or work in splendid isolation?
I’d like to say yes but I’m sure she’d say it’s more a case of her having to listen to me thinking out loud.