An Interview with David Shrigley

Jason Polan
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David Shrigley has supplied drawings and directed music videos for Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Blur. He has also released spoken-word albums of his own. He makes scary and funny and smart drawings. The subjects of his art have included taxidermied animals and salt-and-pepper shakers. Mr. Shrigley’s work is in the collections of major museums. A lot of people have tattoos of his images. His materials have included teeth, paper, spray paint, bronze, and crushed ladders. We conducted this interview over the internet in the summer of 2011.

—Jason Polan

THE BELIEVER: Do you make drawings every day?

DAVID SHRIGLEY: I don’t draw every day. I tend to draw intensely during certain periods of time. I draw to amuse myself on occasion, when I am bored and drawing is the only fun to be had.

BLVR: What is the set-up where you make work?

DS: I have a drawing board in my studio in my house.

BLVR: How do you edit what you make and what people see?

DS: I discard the bad drawings and keep the good ones.

BLVR: Do you make decisions initially when you make a drawing or painting or photograph or sculpture or animation that are related to where they will go? For instance, if you make a particular drawing, do you think That will work best in a gallery, or That will work best in a book?

DS: Usually I get asked to make work for a particular exhibition, or sometimes a book. I just make whatever feels appropriate. Sometimes commercial galleries ask for particular work to sell, but I try not to be bossed around by them. I didn’t become an artist to get bossed around.

BLVR: Do you like to travel?

DS: I like being in other places but I don’t like the process of getting there.

BLVR: What is your process with making books? What decisions are you making when you’re putting them together?

DS: I like making books but I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing. Perhaps I just try to arrange a bunch of seemingly random drawings into something that makes a vague narrative sense. Sometimes it sort of makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t.

BLVR: When you first have an idea, is it visual or is it in text?

DS: It varies. Text is easier because I’m not very good at drawing my ideas.

BLVR: Do you listen to music when you make drawings?

DS: Sometimes. But when I’m thinking hard I need silence.

BLVR: Who are your favorite musicians?

DS: The Fall, Dinosaur Jr., and a hundred others.

BLVR: Have you seen any movies you have particularly liked lately?

DS: I saw Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller. I thought is was good but everybody else seems to think it’s rubbish.

BLVR: What type of pen do you like to use?

DS: Posca poster pens.

BLVR: Did you have pets when you were little?

DS: Mouse, hamster, cat.

BLVR: What are you looking forward to?

DS: Lunch.

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