During my involvement in two exhibitions in April and May 2015 I was interviewed for a feature by Philippe Ladvocat for the Brazilian website O Globo. Philippe is their London correspondent. Here's a link to the article, with an English translation below. Below that are the original questions and answers conducted via email.
"For 10 years he had the talent forgotten inside him but when he was about to celebrate his 30th birthday, English born Ian Viggars decided to experiment again the sensation of filling a canvas and rediscover the same pleasure of painting and creating figures that took him to win a national drawing content in school. After the award, he was invited to paint murals for other classes and his vocation seemed clear, but it was left aside while Ian was studying cinema and looking for a more "traditional" job. Curiously, it was his passion for music, and more specifically for the band the Velvet Underground, that lead to an interest in pop art and introduced him to Andy Wharhol, one of the main artists in this movement. His first works were kind of an “imitation” of paintings by Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, much the same way that nascent bands cover their favourite songs. But the time, Ian started to develop his own creative skills and style.
The pleasure was growing and soon his paintings started occupying his living room – in a way of “do it yourself” with the decoration, as buying art requires a big investment. When his friends suggested that he should try to sell them – and also because his walls were completely covered – he found a shop on Etsy where new and experienced artists can sell their creations. After this first sale, Ian got excited with the idea and started producing more and more. The first painting sold was the English breakfast to a buyer in North Carolina, and with the time the artist started to realize that food was a popular theme among his buyers, which made him invest in portraying ice creams, fruits, etc - always with the pop art style and a lot of colors. But the most popular food is the fried egg, present in many of his painting.
Another trend that Ian noticed with his buyers was that British things were popular, which led him to find out about a big market for English stuff in the US. His favourite, however, is the watermelon - because of the colors and because it’s his favorite food. Besides being available in the website created especially for that (www.ianviggars.com), tools like Facebook and Tumblr helped him promote the passion that grows stronger each day. And in the real world, two simultaneous exhibitions show his art: one with some of his works at the Stepney Green City Farm, a small farm in East London, and an one-off painting at The Regent pub, in Islington."
Here are the original questions and answers, conducted as an email interview.
1) How did you start painting?
Like most people I painted from a young age and was always very encouraged by my parents. At school I won a national drawing prize and was asked to create a couple of murals for the classroom. Once I went to University I stopped painting for around 10 years then started again in my late 20s, eventually painting more and more every year.
2) What is your inspiration for the paintings you do? Is it a conscious decision of painting something close to pop art with this overall theme and colours?
Yes, my first encounters with pop art were easily the biggest inspiration to me, and pretty much the one thing that made me want to start painting again on a larger scale. Through my love of music and the Velvet Underground I discovered Andy Warhol and instantly loved every aspect of his work. Then everything just went from there, and a lot of my earlier larger paintings were me practicing by copying Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Pete Fowler's work and techniques. Like when you form a band and you cover other people's songs at first. It's less of a conscious decision now as it feels more like I've just found a style that feels right and suits me, and that thankfully some other people like too.
3) At what point did you realise that you could actually start selling your paintings? How did the process evolve?
At first I started to create paintings to display in my own flat. I figured if I can't afford to buy expensive art I'll just make my own! Then some well meaning friends saw the paintings and suggested that I could try to sell them. That, and I was producing so much work that my walls were already full. So I just searched on the internet, 'how to start selling your art', and a few articles recommended creating an Etsy shop to test the popularity of your stuff before you take the plunge and build websites, quit you job, and so on. Through Etsy I sold a painting in my first month so I was encouraged to continue. I now sell through Etsy, a website called ArtFinder, and also through my own website, www.ianviggars.com
4) Did you art change a lot since your started producing these paintings? If yes, how?
My style has stayed pretty much the same since the pop art revelation mentioned earlier. I just think my technique has become a bit more slick and refined. I decided the style I wanted to use before I settled on subjects. Then I got started painting various foods, I can't remember why or how I decided on this, but the first painting I sold was of an English Breakfast to a buyer in North Carolina. I've found that there seems to be a market in North America for British things, which surprised me at first! I've also experimented with a few abstract canvases which is a very different style superficially, but I use a similar palette of unreal, bright colours and bold shapes so to me they feel kind of natural. I'm not a huge fan of artists/musicians who flip between styles and trends however, I like the idea of building up my own style and then toying with it, developing it.
5) Do you have any favourite ones? And what are the most popular ones?
As stated above, anything with a British feel seems to go down well in North America. And any of my paintings with fried eggs in them seem popular. I feel like I've created and cornered the market for egg-based art! The Fab Lolly is a British ice lolly treat that I paint a lot too, and that has proved popular. Even if you don't know what a Fab Lolly is, it looks cool as a piece of graphic art. My personal favourite is the Watermelon Pattern, just because I love watermelons and it was all done by hand rather than stencils or screen printing - I've never managed to master screen printing. I also love the Monster Munch painting, but again that's a retro British snack that may not mean much to a Brazilian audience!
6) Would you like to have your art becoming your main way of living? How does it relate to you everyday job?
I'd love for that to happen but London is a very expensive city to live in. I have a 'day job' in an office that keeps me going but at the end of the day I'm focused purely on painting and art. Going forward I'd love to work with bands or musicians on artwork or posters, or with brands on creating designs and patterns for them. I'm also always looking for new exhibition opportunities. But the bottom line is, I love painting anyway and would still be doing it all the time even if I sold nothing - as usual with any creative pursuit it feels like a happy side-effect if other people like it too.
7) Who are your favourite artists and styles? Do you think they have any influence in your work?
All of the original pop artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Patrick Caulfield influence me hugely. I'm also a big fan of a few modern examples like Julian Opie, and I also love the work of Pete Fowler, who I first discoevered as he did the album art for one of my favourite bands when I was younger. His whole approach is an inspiration. I also love graphic designer Kate Moross, again she's had an enviable career working with great bands and brands to create fonts, posters and designs. None of these people are purely traditional painters however, more like image makers, and that is something I also try to emulate. I think I could apply my style to many different briefs and settings.
8) What are the ways you find to promote your paintings? What you plan for the future?
All of the usual things - I have a page on Facebook, although I feel I get better results from Instagram and Tumblr as they're both very image led. They're great to just gauge interest in new ideas and sketches too. Twitter is the only one I can't get on with for some reason. I have my own website and still sell through other sites.
For the future I'd love to exhibit my paintings more widely and outside of the UK if possible. I'd love to keep painting and that is my main focus, but I'm also keen to collaborate with bands, other artists and any creative companies.