Iona's Studio
20Q Interviews : Iona Singh

20Q Creativity Interviews

Artist & Author Iona Singh

How does creativity benefit society?

By Chris Dunmire | Updated 7/23/15

Iona SinghWhat's your name?

Iona Singh.

Where are you from?

Originally London. Now I live in France.

Who are you today?

Practicing artist, author of the book Color, Facture, Art and Design.

What do you do?

I spend my day in my studio working on new paintings or thinking about what to write next.

What's your story?

I have a degree in Fine Art from the University of Portsmouth in the UK and continued to paint and write after leaving the course until I landed a job as a journalist which fulfilled my writing ambition but had little to do with art.

I then went freelance (which fitted around family commitments) working mainly for The Artist's and Illustrator's Magazine where I ran my own monthly page for several years testing and writing about art materials and other things. This led to more serious stuff, and I had two peer review articles accepted for publication in the US.

Why is creativity important to you?

It's one of the core features of being human, even though modern life does not rate it very much. So, no creativity is disenfranchisement from fundamental human capacities both physical and intellectual, leading to a very sad state of affairs.

I regard a really egalitarian society as one where everyone is encouraged to exercise that capacity as science, art whatever. Wow, what a boast for society that would be, I also think it is the ultimate personal desire (apart from love).

When did you realize you had a creative calling to fulfill?

When I was quite young I wanted to do something 'critical'. Aged about 10, I was stunned by a Monet painting and also the Manet exhibition at the National Gallery in London. Another Eureka moment was when I realised my drawings were now good, in my late teens.

How did you embrace it?

Was unsure how at the time, but sometimes you just have to get on with what you're good at. It's a sort of rebellion. I decided to study art, my parents were antagonistic at first, but then liked it when they saw how hard I worked.

How did that feel?

I felt great when there were little successes; accepted to college, first writing published, a couple of little exhibitions, first essay, then the book. All provide highs that keep you going, sort of a good addiction.

Where has your journey taken you?

I know enough to carry on but may want to change direction slightly, perhaps write in a different format, for example. I am pleased to have enough knowledge to be able to ponder that.

What challenges have you faced?

Studying the subject was just a beginning. To understand what I wanted to do I first had to do some jobs that I really did not want to do and really did not suit. It was quite traumatic sometimes, but there's nothing like it for appreciating what you should be doing.

Also, artistic pursuits can be quite solitary. It's important to do things to make up for this, I prefer cafes or a little teaching balances it up quite well.

What worked for you?

Just concentrating. Getting a quiet space and time to think about what I REALLY wanted to do, then doing it. Grasping at straws at first, but with perseverance this improved rapidly.

What didn't work for you?

Having no time.

What 3 tips can you share to help others starting on a similar path?

  1. There is some personal philosophizing and questions; What do you really want to do? Why?
  2. When these are clear then start doing it. Just pick up the tool of your trade (whatever that is; pen, paintbrush, chisel, piano, papier mache, scenario whatever) and get on with it.
  3. No matter if it starts off crappily, it's the routine and doing it every day (or as often as you can) that makes it good.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a series of 8 paintings, and a single larger work.

What's coming up for you in the next year?

We are planning to open a gallery.

What else do you want to do?

Have some new ideas, be able to fulfill them, produce something of quality.

How might you make that happen?

A really good cup of coffee in the morning, a friendly work space, and time and energy spent.

What question would you like to answer that hasn't been asked?

What benefit do you think creative activity is to the society at large, your own work included?

All good art (music, literature, design, drama) is progressive, in a micro-societal and macro-societal fashion, I mean it's good for the individual (I explore why in my book) and it's good in a larger political sense.

Where can people find you online?

My book, Color, Facture, Art and Design and author profile at Zero Books.

And the article, Thoughts on Colour Materiality and Dependency by Katrina Blannin.

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