DOWNTIME w/ Stephen Tierney

Artist work space

Artist work space

1) Location? Sydney, Australia 🇦🇺

2) Years collaging? Around 20 years. I’ve been creating mixed media artworks and collages since design school in 1995. It took me a long time to figure out exactly what it was I was doing and what I wanted to say. I kind of messed around with a bunch of different mediums including painting and silk-screen for a few years, but always with a collage type effect. For the last 6 or 7 years I’ve focused entirely on developing my own style and working toward establishing a name for myself internationally as a collage and mixed media artist.

3) What do you love and hate about collage? I’m obsessed with the imagery and material that I work with. I love recycled bookstores and thrift stores. I’m kind of addicted to the smell of printed paper. I love flicking through the worn and yellowing pages of old books and magazines.

In regards to process, I like that I can work pretty quickly to achieve a result. I also love when accidents happen. The way that you never really know what the final piece will look like until that one image is placed perfectly over another, and it all just fits together like it was meant to be.

I hate that collage is not really taken seriously. I think we still get lumped into the world of ‘craft-art’ because it’s so accessible to anyone. Admittedly there is a lot of shit collage out there. But there is also a hell of a lot of terrible painting and other forms of plastic arts and artists.

My hope is that the current surge in popularity that collage is going through will eventually die off and the people who are really pushing the art form will be left with something that is recognised as it’s own movement in the same way that artists of Dadaism and Surrealism are celebrated now. 

4) Biggest influences?  Mostly music and musicians. I have to be listening to music when I’m working. Most of the time music directly influences the thoughts and visuals I have, which transfers to my work. I’ve also been influenced by artists, designers and other creative thinkers throughout the years. Some names that come to mind are Peter Powditch, James Powditch, Martin Sharp, Brett Whitely, Reg Mombassa, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Rene Magritte, Picasso, Jacques Villeglé, Robert Motherwell, Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Saul Bass, Paul Rand, Eduard de Bono, Mark Gonzales, Andy Howell. As well as musicians and songwriters like Nick Cave, Black Francis, Michael Stipe, Thom Yorke, Bjork, Neil Young. Too many to list really.

5) Analog Vs Digital? Both. I think analog is really important, and I actually prefer to see a collage that has been created by hand. I’m also very much for the progression of the digital age and I’m interested in new ideas and ways of thinking that are happening digitally. I am from the old school era though. I love the feeling of cutting paper and pulling apart old books too much to move to digital completely.

6) How do you spend your downtime? Preferably at the beach.  

7) Three tips for someone starting out in collage? Look at what other people are doing now. Look at what other people did in the past. Then play and experiment without limiting yourself to any medium until you find something that you like and is your own. There are no rules.

8) Up and coming shows or projects we should know about? I have some new work in a group show in London opening in April this year. I’ll have details about it on my website soon.

Instagram: @steve.tierney.collage

Artworks (top to bottom) 
'Angel' 1997. Paper collage and pencil
'Just Because' 1997. Paper collage, pen and crayon
'Untitled' 1997. Mixed media collage
'Rest Assured' 2017. Paper collage on wooden board
'Suffering' 2017. Paper collage on wooden board
'There’ll Be Hell To Pay' 2017. Paper collage on wooden board