Berlin Kunst

Interview with Lee Wagstaff

Lee Wagstaff is a Berlin based English artist working with painting, sculpture, printmaking and tattooing. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London and Kyoto City University of the Arts. A continuing theme in his work is pattern, ornamentation and optical illusions.
Lee Wagstaff at his Studio Berlin
Lee Wagstaff at his Studio Berlin

What are your main sources of inspiration?
I am mostly inspired by the idea of tricking or manipulating the viewer’s response to an artwork. I am interested in the relationship between a physical/optical reaction to an artwork and how that could lead to an emotional response.

Lee Wagstaff at his Studio Berlin
Lee Wagstaff at his Studio Berlin

How did you come to your style?
I have an idea about what I would like to make and then find a way to make it happen, this usually means spending months, sometimes years learning a skill and then taking it as far as I can. I spend a long time experimenting and making tests learning about materials.

I do a lot of research into processes, pigments chemicals etc, I am very methodical in the studio.

Tell us a little about the creative process.
My process is quite ritualistic, I start the day around seven and write a list of things to do (it is usually the same things, I like order inside of chaos). I always know what I want to achieve. I rarely work in an expressive way. I try to switch off and become almost like an automaton – mechanical mathematical, I listen to a lot of Bach and Telemann, I did not grow up listening to classical music so it is like discovering a new band and finding out they have over 1000 albums in their back catalogue). I work on lots of projects at once, because I use mainly oils. This can mean months between the start and finish of a piece.

The project space RISE berlin was …
… a space that I ran with my friend Jenus, the space still exists but is on pause. It ran for 9 years putting on around 35 shows and performances, it started of as a way to encourage an evolving community of artists working mostly around the body and identities, we had lots of really interesting shows and got to know lots of interesting people in Berlin and make friends.

Since yesterday
Since yesterday

What have you always wanted to do?
I graduated 21 years ago, pursuing art as a career has had its ups and downs, my main goal is to make art that firstly is interesting and challenging to me that can sustain me artistically and intellectually.

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to design and build a house, a really small one that I could sit on the roof and bird watch.

Lee Wagstaff –