Mason Storm is one of the most talented and elusive artists on the art scene today. Although rarely seen in public without his balaclava I was fortunate enough to meet the man in person, face to face over a coffee and get to know more about the man behind the mask.
“I have been around and seen a lot of places in the world and none compare to London. It’s beautiful, it’s ugly, it’s safe it dangerous, it’s welcoming and hostile.”
What Is your favourite piece of art equipment?
I suppose my favourite piece of equipment the one I use the most would be my light box / projector. My drawing skills leave an awful lot to be desired. Lots of people moan about the use of light boxes believing that if you haven’t drawn the image free hand then you are somehow cheating which is nonsense as the artists has to make the marks and apply the paint. The light box is by no means a new addition to the artists box of tricks, Caravaggio is rumoured to have used one and Vermeer used one and no one rates them as lesser artists because of it. I like my paintings to be precise and the light box helps me get the scale, perspective and dimensions spot on. I have had several people challenge me over its use my reply is always the same. “I’ll draw two identical canvases with the light box, give you one and I’ll keep the other and we both paint the same image and compare,” so far no takers!
What is your most memorable show to date, yours and of another artist?
That’s a difficult one because every show is different not necessarily better or memorable, but I would have to say my 2011 solo show ‘Somewhere Between Sacred and Profane’. It was in a small gallery in North London which I rented from the owner. I did everything from start to finish and sold a lot of work, the amount that sold surprised me given the opening night was a nightmare. It was in a bleak December and the weather was atrocious so not many people attended which I thought was an ominous omen for the show. However as the 2 weeks went on there was a steady flow of people through the door and the work started flying off the walls. One lady came all the way from Paris just to buy a piece which was fantastic. The resulting back story behind that purchase is unbelievable! It involves, theft, embezzlement and murder!!
My favourite show of another artist is probably Ron Mueck’s at the National Gallery after his stint as artist in residence. His sculptures are absolutely beautiful and the work that goes into producing them is mind boggling. His ability to shift around scale and match that in the paint finishes for skin tones is amazing.
How did you learn your craft and what influenced you to work on perfecting your craft?
I never had what you would call formal art training but from a young lad went to an art centre in a Youth Club in East London. The centre was a fabulous place where for a few pennies a week you could do Judo, Weight Training, Boxing, Art, Badminton, and needlecraft and a whole host of other activities. One night my Judo class was cancelled and I went into the art class to wait for my friend who was a regular there, after that night I never stopped going right up to my mid twenties. There was never any actual lesson. You would just turn up on the night and decide if you fancied doing painting or photography or pottery and just got on with it. If you needed help you just asked and there was always someone there to lend a hand. The man who ran it, Alan Clayden was a fabulous teacher and an inspiration, as were all of the other tutors most of whom were students from the Royal Academy, Royal College and Central St.Martins schools of art who were supplementing their grants by working at the centre, it also gave them the time to do their own work. There is no better way to learn your craft then to be around people with superior talent. Looking at the work of other artists you admire is always a prompt to make you strive to perfect your art. I am constantly seeing other painters and thinking “Bastard, how did he or she do that?” It’s an ego thing. However, most of the art on my walls are by other artists.
If you were to give one piece of your work o the Queen of England what would it be?
Not sure any of my pieces are fit for the Royal collection but if I had to give the Queen one piece I think it would probably be my sculpture ‘Crack Baby’. Just so that every morning when she woke up she would be reminded what a fabulously privileged life her and her family live. Failing that I would paint her a lovely portrait so she could chuck out the dodgy ones, like the one by Lucian Freud.
Do you have any upcoming shows or new pieces you are working on?
I don’t have any major shows coming up at the moment, although there are a few projects such as a secret pop up show in collaboration with a well known fashion house.
The continuation of my modern Shakespeare series, following Hamlet and Henry V, I think Richard III is next. I am also looking at doing a slightly controversial religious piece and also working on several commissions at the moment, including one of Slash from Guns and Roses and a full size version of Rembrandt’s ‘Christ in The Storm in The Sea of Galilee for a gallery in Los Angeles. I am getting back into my bad boys and girls portrait series so all in all a busy few months ahead!
In what way do you think creating work in London has had an effect on you?
I don’t think it’s so much about creating the work in London, more it’s about having lived my whole life in London. I have been around and seen a lot of places in the world and none compare to London. It’s beautiful, it’s ugly, it’s safe it dangerous, it’s welcoming and hostile. I think growing up in London has shaped me and left an indelible mark on me and I think that’s evident in my work.
See more of Mason’s work here: