This year we are joined by a number of contemporary artists who help make Shangri-la what it is. This is our first artist blog with the talented Neon artist, Andy Doig.
Tell me about your normal day?
Put out our tables and chairs on the seafront; admire the clouds and talk to a few day trippers . Bend a little glass and plan some designs for the future. We’re quite relaxed in an organised way.
Neon signs are something of a niche craft – how did you get into it?
I don’t know what it was about neon – a combination of environment, a meeting of personalities, a personal time in life for me, being immersed in change – in America – whatever it was. I had the incentive and ability to do, and a craft that reflected me!
How does your commissioning work, and have you had any interesting customers?
Lots of interesting customers – don’t forget our studio is on Brighton seafront! I love all our customers – they share the love of neon.
Tell me about how you go from an initial idea to a final, finished piece of artwork?
If it’s a commission I search the client for the idea – otherwise it’s not them. For my art it’s about being brave and going forward with something. We draw it, live with it, bend it into glass and process it. We also have to plan it electrically and consider the practical side. Installations are cool because they can be wilder.
What’s the biggest piece you’ve made, and what were the difficulties making it?
The main signage for Komedia, Brighton: it’s huge, lights up a whole street. It took weeks to design and bend – mostly on living room floors and lobbies in Sussex Square.
How did you learn your craft, and do you worry about a lack of apprenticeships and tutors that offer the same teaching for future generations?
I was taught as part of an industry apprentice scheme in the 1990’s, and that’s gone now. Craft courses have replaced that, and so I would say “invest in a course, then invest your time getting better.” Really not that much has changed – in fact there are now two courses in the UK – one run by Richard Wheater, and one run by me !
What is it you love about making work for Glastonbury?
I came here 3 years ago to present neon at the SnakePit. My son helped me install it and he now makes his own glass. This year I can show my wife and daughter around Glastonbury for the first time. Not to mention the great friends I have made in life that share this festival connection .
What does it feel like to see a piece of your work completed?
A relief! No seriously, an ember of light that will glow, and warm someone’s soul!
You can find out more about Andy’s work here http://www.andydoig.com/