A Sculptor’s Journey| David Mitchell

Courtesy_ of_David Mitchell

Courtesy of David Mitchell

This week, I had a “Creatives in Focus” interview with David Mitchell. David Mitchell is a Scottish artist/sculptor with a BA (Hons) Sculpture.
David Mitchell’s talent and modern approach to sculpture have gained him recognition among emerging Scottish artists. Mitchell creates bespoke commissions, gallery work, and public monuments produced in marble, bronze, terracotta, and plaster. Mitchell’s sculptures vary in artistic purpose from indoor pieces to grand monuments.

During the course of this interview, we spoke about David’s creative journey and the artistic drive. I learnt that the journey of a successful creative requires hard work, self-motivation and authenticity. Grab a cup of tea and let us get stuck in!

1.    Please tell me about your professional journey? 

I attended college in Glasgow and I then went on to study sculpture at the Gray School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland. Soon after graduation, I opened a studio and I have been working as an artist ever since.

2.    What do you do as an artist/ sculptor?

In simple terms, I create figures out of clay. This involves sketching ideas, creating a small model and then producing a larger scale sculpture. A small study may take a couple of hours and a big monument, 7 to 8 months. Most of the time, I work on my own and it can be challenging but I enjoy what I do.

3.    Why did you decide to pursue a career as an artist?

Initially, I wanted to spend two years after college as a missionary. My dad encouraged me to enrol into a college art course. I later attended Glasgow City Art college where I mainly studied painting. The style of teaching at the Gray School of Art steered me away from modernist art and pulled me in the direction of sculpture.

Sculpture_ by_ David_ Mitchell
Sculpture by David Mitchell
4.    Did you have any misconceptions about being an artist?

Yes, I had a few misconceptions. I thought that once I opened my studio, people would be knocking at my door to purchase my work, but this is not always the case. To be a successful artist you must be self-driven and find opportunities to promote your work.

5.    What is the inspiration behind your work?

The inspiration behind my work is humanity through my perspective. I am inspired by classical artists like Michealangelo and the inspiration behind their art.  Inspiration also depends on the work I am producing, if I am creating a monument for a local council, I have more of a defined brief. I must work within those parameters but also infuse my own unique signature.

6.    What is the purpose of art in society?

A typical answer would be that the purpose of Art is to enlighten society. I believe art is a luxury, for a society to be creative then it must be doing well in other aspects.

7.    Do you have any other artists that inspire you?

Most of the artists that inspire me are dead. However, the artists that inspire me include; Michealangelo and Bertel Thorvaldsen .

Sculpture by David Mitchell
Courtesy of David Mitchell
8.    Is there a piece of work that you are most proud of?

I am very critical of my work so I will not say I am proud of my artwork. I often see the flaws in my work. I guess it is because I spend a lot of time on my sculptures. The largest artwork I have produced is a 9ft figure of Rob Roy which is now a monument in Peterculter, Aberdeen.

Rob_Roy_ Figure
Rob Roy In Progress | Courtesy of David Mitchell
9.    How do you develop your skills as an artist?

You develop your skills by practice, researching to gain inspiration and making lots of your mistakes.

10.    Do you have a mentor, or have you had one in the past?

Yes, I have had a mentor, I worked with Sandy Stoddart, a sculptor based in Paisley, Scotland. He taught me several techniques which I further developed through practice and university projects. 

11.    What was the first piece of artwork that you sold?

The first piece of work I sold was at my degree show. I previously sold a few pieces to my family and friends, but I don’t believe that counts.

12.    How do you promote your work?

I promote my work through my Website, Instagram and Facebook. I have advertised in magazines in past, but I have found that promoting through word of mouth and networking is more effective. There needs to be a balance, your art should speak for you, but you need also promote yourself because you need to make a living.

Torso_Boy_by_David_Mitchell
“Torso” by David Mitchell
13.    How do you deal with praise and criticism?

I don’t really like praise, if someone is being critical it doesn’t really bother me.  If someone has negative things to say about your work. They may have an agenda against your person and not necessarily your work.

14.    What are the biggest challenges you face in your profession? 

The biggest challenges I face include self-motivation, this is not unique to sculptors but I believe most individuals struggle with self-motivation. Another challenge is selling my work.  A sculpture is much harder to sell than a painting. Galleries are less likely to exhibit a sculptor than a painter.  Thankfully, after graduating from art school, I had little capital and with the help of my family, I was able to get a studio. My wife and family members constantly encourage me and this makes me work harder despite the challanges.

15.    How do you achieve a healthy/ work-life balance?

I don’t work on weekends. I go to the gym regularly; my work is physically demanding.

16.    What advice would you give to a young person who would like to pursue a career as an artist?

You need to be willing to make a lot of sacrifices, don’t expect everything to be plain sailing. Be prepared to work hard but enjoy the process or else it will drive you crazy. Being an artist and owning a studio has its challenges but allow your business and influence grow organically. Be genuine.

Connect with David Mitchell

Website: https://www.instagram.com/david_j_mitchell/

Instagram: david_j_mitchell

Facebook: David J Mitchell

Twitter: @sculptissimo

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