Liam Snootle is a self-taught visual artist from Melbourne with a background in Mathematics and graffiti. Predominantly working with painting and urban installation pieces, Snootle’s work can be categorised as a visual response to sound or in contrast an attempt at creating an aural experience via visual stimulus. Influenced heavily by East Coast American alternative music of the 80’s and 90’s, Snootle is interested in the combination of colour and shape and how these are able to trigger an emotional response in the viewer. Often painting representations of his interpretation of punk songs. Using a language of shapes as his alphabet he encourages the viewer to allow the work to recall a memory, a sound, an idea or a thought previously experienced and provide time to contemplate and celebrate that moment.
This week, Snootle has not one but two shows opening in Victoria, Australia. He took a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to chat with Damo from what he affectionally refers to as his Snoodio.
Damo: Who is Liam Snootle?
LS: He’s an artist, he likes to paint shapes and listen to very loud music. He’s like a much cooler version of myself. He only comes out at night because during the day he moonlights as a maths teacher.
Damo: What’s your background?
LS: I’ve always been a creator, I’m a musician, I played rock music back in the day, didn’t everyone? The painting was always something I wanted to do, but I guess it was the revelation that my visual thinking approach to my life could translate as art that allowed me to emerge as a visual artist. I pinch myself everyday when I think that people dig my art and the fact that my art has been shown around the world and that people actually put them in their houses blows my mind.
Damo: Can you talk a little about your work and your practice as an artist?
LS: I paint geometric abstract art, sometimes for galleries, sometimes on walls, occasionally they get on the telly. I usually try to paint a response to an emotion, usually one that is associated with music. I really enjoy what I do and I’m constantly trying to push myself in new directions.
Damo: You have two shows opening on 9 September. Can you tell us a little about each show, what can we expect to see? Why do you think people should come along to one of your shows?
LS: The shows are opportunities to show two very distinct bodies of work. At Off the Kerb Gallery, in Collingwood, I’m showing a series of shaped canvases that are an extension of the pieces I put on the streets. I’ve really enjoyed making them and the fact that gravity determines their position has been really exciting. I’d like to think that I’ve always been in control of my paintings as far as their orientation and direction but with these paintings, control is in the hands of the art, there is nothing I can do.
For Boom Gallery in Geelong, I’ve made a show of my interpretation of Daydream Nation, the 1988 Sonic Youth album. I’ve created a painting for each song. When the album came out, I was in High school and remember it being such a revelation, it was a mix of punk and optimism, and almost a call to arms for my generation, a rallying cry that the nineties were going to be alright. Given the Trump debacle, I reckon the album has a much relevance today as it did then. The painting are fun, and many of them are a real tangent to my usual art.
Damo: What art do you most identify with? Whats your favourite artwork and why?
LS: Oh God, there’s a lot, too many to mention here. I guess it’s one of those things that depends on the day. If I had to narrow it down to my top ten artists in no particular order then it’d currently look something like this; Anthony Lister, SheOne, Jerry Inscoe, Remi/Rough, O-Two, St Monci, Paul Kremer, Jim Houser, Michael Bennett, Carl Cashman and Graphic Surgery, is that ten?
Damo: Whats the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
LS: ‘Just keep making!’, I can’t remember who said it to me, but it stuck and now I’m pleased that it did.
Damo: Professionally, whats your goal?
LS: Not saying I don’t have great days in the classroom, but recently I’m noticing that the generation gap between myself and my students is increasing, and I guess my teaching is suffering. The idea that going full time with art is the dream. I spoke with sculptor, Dion Horstmans who said that to be an artist, it has to be a full time thing, I haven’t forgotten that, but I do have a mortgage!
Damo: It’s a tough day in the studio. What do you do to get through the day and/or any creative blocks you may have?
LS: Most of my paintings are a response to the music I’m listening to, so I tend to have a large collection of CD’s playing in the studio, anything american from 1985 through to 1998 seems to provide enough inspiration for me.
Damo: What’s something about you that google doesn’t know?
LS: My age!
Damo: What’s your most embarrassing moment?
LS: I lost $249,000 on Millionaire Hotseat a few years back, which my students’ never seem to get tired of reminding me about. Eddie was nice though.
Damo: If you could choose, what superpower would you have and why?
LS: Apparently my Midichlorian count is pretty low, but I think I’d do good things if I could use the Force.
‘On the Riot Trail’ opens this Thursday 8 September at Geelong’s Boom Gallery.
‘Weapons of Maths Distraction’ opens at Collingwood’s ‘Off the Kerb’ on Friday 9 September.