With his exciting blend of typography and photography, and his use of minimal materials coupled with a primal attitude, Melbourne based artist Steve Leadbeater wants you to be challenged by his drawings and paintings. His upcoming independent show Within Us inspired No Cure to delve into his creative mind and explore his raw and dark artwork.
INTERVIEW: SALLY O'BRIEN
Could you please introduce yourself to the world?
Hi. I’m an independent artist from the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I write with dark humour and paint from the heart. My middle class story is one many would hide, but I’ve embraced it. Yes, Leadbeater is my real surname.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Primal and emotionally layered imagery that explores the human condition - OR - Like looking in a mirror with transparent skin and your heart on fire.
Which projects are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of my 365 Days of Leadbeater project where I shared new work on Instagram daily for a year. The challenge made me hardcore disciplined, defined my direction as an artist and significantly grew my audience.
Many of your pieces incorporate words and text. What drew you to experiment with type?
Sometimes words are more powerful than images. I have a graphic design background and have a passion for typographic communication. The designer in me wants to connect with you any way I can.
Tell us a bit about your artistic process. What materials do you like to use in your artwork?
I constantly take photos and write ideas on my phone, draw in a visual diary, read books and collect reference that speaks to me. When the pressure of all the inspiration has built up I create things until the energy has gone. I work on whatever material is in front of me.
"I’m most proud of my 365 Days of Leadbeater project where I shared new work on Instagram daily for a year. The challenge made me hardcore disciplined, defined my direction as an artist and significantly grew my audience."
- Steve Leadbeater
How do you think Melbourne has shaped your art?
Melbourne shaped me so its effect on my work is profound. It’s hard to separate myself from my environment. I’m very lucky that I live in a city that is so committed to the arts with businesses that are finally acknowledging the value of creativity. I’m in the right place.
What would you like your work to tell your audience?
People have extreme emotional reactions to my work (positive and negative). I want them to be reminded of the immense power, vulnerability and mystery of being human. I diffuse this seriousness with contemporary references and irreverent statements using high impact type.
What are you currently working on?
100 LEADBEATERed Selfies, where people send me selfies and I create work using them as a base. It’s an awesome way to stay fresh working with unexpected images. It gives an insight into my process seeing the before and after.
Could we hear more about your future artistic goals and your plans of world domination?
Hahaha - that comes from a Venn diagram I did a while back. My plan is to keep creating, keep improving, keep sharing my stories and to live off my work. I tend to inspire others. I show them that a public educated, suburban bogan with a family, a demanding career and zero time can still follow their dream - regardless of how impossible everyone says it is. So if that’s possible, anything is right?
You describe your upcoming show as your most ambitious and risky endeavour yet, what can we expect from Within Us?
It’s ambitious narrowing my focus to a single theme and creating new work while ignoring hundreds of others. It’s risky putting myself and my work out there with everything on the line. What you can expect from WITHIN US is some wild and confronting art, amazing live music, great beers and a sea of horrified onlookers. Basically, if you like independent art, good times and you’re in Fitzroy North - you’re also in luck.
The opening night of Within US will be held on Friday 20 April 6-11pm, 151 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North.