Meet Joe Sweeney; London-based artist, sardonic wit and the latest Top 8 collaborator.
Joe Sweeney’s art takes mundane life in Britain and transforms makes it art with a touch of morbid humour and a twinkle in his eye. Sweeney celebrates honest humanity by exploring the harsh realities of everyday life and the British penchant for nostalgia.
Sweeney’s work has been part of various shows since he graduated from Chelsea College of Art in 2013. Most recently his solo show ‘Take Away’ at the Cob Gallery played with the quintessentially British take-away.
Now Joe Sweeney has taken up the challenge of fashion design, collaborating with House of Holland to produce a capsule collection for our T-Shirt Shop.
ON THE SUBJECT OF
I LOVE MY JOB
Inspired by one of his designs 'I love my job' we caught up with Joe to discuss why he loves his job...
So, we know you love your job enough to write it across a hoodie - Tell us why do you think your job is great?
I think it’s quite a wryly-insincere phrase actually, when I saw it I thought it summed up apathy towards the day grind of Britain. I normally associate the word job with something I don’t particularly want to do. After about 5 years out of Education I’ve found a way that I can work, through developing a visual language to communicate. Creating something authentic is difficult, but in an insatiable way.
Are there any particular parts of your job that you don’t enjoy?
The solitude, I work from home as I have the space to, luckily. But I would love to work around other artists in a studio complex. It’s something you almost take for granted at art college, the daily interaction. I’d say working together on a creative project with other people is a special thing.
What is the worst job you have had? Has it made you more appreciative of the work you do now?
Hands down cater-waitering. But also for a couple of years I found myself in charge of gift wrapping in various department stores. I can’t help but feel that it was just the general public that made both of those jobs so difficult. But at the same time I’m a great one for observation and eavesdropping, it’s definitely informed my work, so I take it all back! ‘I LOVE THE GENERAL PUBLIC’… put that on a hoodie.
Before starting a new piece of work is there any particular process you go through to get the creativity flowing?
I’ve recently acquired a video camera, its allowing me to record all my visual references so I try to take it everywhere. I used to feel randomly panicked by my lack of documentation. But making a book for my last show ‘Loose Change’, where the Carpet Diem series featured is from, retaught me the importance of documenting and contextual material in my process. I am currently making a film for my next show…
"RELAX, NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING"
What themes do you explore within your works?
I think, coming from London, that I’ve always been mentally documenting its ever changing aesthetic. Combing over it with my morbid sense of humour, reinterpreting people and feelings like apathy, nostalgia, the sardonic and the relentlessness of regeneration. But themes change…
Who or what has been the biggest inspiration in your career so far?
It’s a mixture of Francis Bacon and my GCSE art teacher…
If you could offer 16 years old you a piece of advice for the future, what would it be?
Relax, no one knows what they are doing.
"i think the work has come full circle in a brilliant way"
If you weren’t an artist, what other job would you have liked to do?
I’d quite like to be a fashion designer or and architect.
How has it felt to see your work translated in a different way onto wearable pieces such as hoodies and t-shirts?
I think the work has come full circle in a brilliant! Taking it fully transformed, back to where it came from. I won’t tell you exactly where though, you’ll have to keep an eye out.
What’s on the horizon next for Joe Sweeney?
My next solo show easter 2019 with Cob Gallery, there are a few other projects but I’ll have to keep them under my belt for now. I am also working on a capsule collection of some clothes, it’s in the very early stages so it will be interesting to see where that ends up. It’s not easy!