Suky Best is a visual artist living in London. Currently she teaches Photoshop classes at Artupdate Learning. Suky has been using Photoshop as long as she can remember. She has also taught Illustrator at Central Saint Martins for a number of years.
A lot of artists and designers can’t work without having a studio is
it vital to your works?
I think a studio is important, it can be a room in your house or a room or space somewhere else, but you need a dedicated space to think and work. Its important to be able to put down some work, go away for an hour or a few days and be able to return to where you were before. If you have to keep putting things away or clearing up your work it interrupts your ideas. A studio has other meanings it’s a dedicated space for your work and nothing else. It acknowledges your work as an important activity and its status as your place of work as an artist. I used to have a workroom in my house, and now I have a rented studio space in a complex of studios. I love my studio. Its feels like a bit of home. When I first moved into it I didn’t know how to use it. So the first thing I did was have a sleep on the floor and gradually it became a safe enough place to make work in. It’s also quite a private space; making work is a private activity. I don’t like Open Studios as I find strangers wandering into my studio intrusive. One of the things I like about the studio complex is everyone’s studio feels totally different, and they even smell different.
Do you place a lot of emphasis on narrative in your works?
I’d describe myself as essentially a storyteller. Everything I do has an important narrative element. Works without an obvious narrative still have a time component and when time becomes a part of a work, narrative is always there. For the past few years my work has been video/animation and print. And my subject has been our relationship to the natural world or our strange constructed ideas bout nature, birds in particular. We seem unable to look at animals as themselves, what we do is anthropomorphise, give them human characteristics, or explain their behaviour in human terms. Even serious wildlife documentaries have narration that gives or describes animal behaviour in human terms. I’m also interested in how time is represented in still and moving imagery and I use this as a technique for working with ideas around our relationships to animals. For the past 10 years I’ve been interested in birds, but now I’m becoming interested in big cats, leopards in particular.
How do you stay sane in London?
London is a wonderful, stimulating culturally diverse city and I use the city its theatres, cinemas, concert halls and exhibition spaces. But its also noisy tiring, violent and exhausting. So I cycle as much as I can. You see the city in a different way and connect to it more than you do by public transport. I try to only cycle on quiet back streets. This often makes my routes longer than going in a straight line, but you get to see more of London. Being an artist is hard. It’s financially unstable and can be very stressful. You’re constantly exposing yourself, your inner thoughts and feelings via your work, so I do Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga as an escape. I also sit in front of the computer a lot, and the yoga is so physically demanding that it’s the perfect antidote for a sedentary day in the studio. Ashtanga yoga is very challenging, mentally and on your body, and its impossible not to forget about everything other than the asana (posture) that you’re in whilst your doing it. You also have to concentrate on your breath; each in part of your breath is synchronised to a movement. I try to do yoga at least 3 times a week and if possible 5 times, a mixture of classes and self practice. This takes a lot of time and self-discipline, but its all part of being an artist.
You’ve made animation before. What is it about animation (54 Morning Lane) that other mediums can’t express?
Animation is an interesting way of working as it’s between still and moving imagery. Each frame is still, but when assembled together creates the illusion of movement. I became interested in animation whilst Henry Moore Fellow in printmaking at the University of Wolverhampton 1998-2000. I had never been interested in films until the fellowship when I borrowed a video camera. I discovered the joy of looking at footage, breaking it down into separated frames and then reconstructing it into something else. This is essentially animation even though it’s not drawn. I also began to play with the ideas of duration and my first film was a 25 second flipbook wildlife documentary. There was a lot of talk in the late 1990’s about interactivity at this time and flipbooks struck me as being totally interactive and incredibly interesting. I began to re film flipbooks and this turned into a type of animation.
I’m currently finishing off an Mphil at the Royal College of Art in film. An Mphil is a research degree like a PhD, but unlike a PhD it can be a more open exploratory piece of research. My MPhil is by practice and I’m writing about Birds & Film. I’ve also begun a new piece of work with an accompanying blog about the Amur Leopard project (more news will be posted on my website as it happens). I’m also working freelance doing print preparation and artwork which I’m really enjoying.