Emo art with Steven Farmer
Emo artist Steven Farmer was bullied so hard at school he broke his wrist, but was moved to an art college and now gets £1,000 a painting – and has exhibited with Warhol and Banksy. Meet emo’s king of Punk Art.
Emo artist Steven Farmer in his own words…
Do you refer to your art as emo or do other people?
People who look my work say it’s very ’emo’ because it is so personal. It’s also a form of a rebellion to the idea of what people think art is today. To me, ’emo’ means emotionally unstable; it is from the heart.
What kind of art do you do?
I use oil pastel and acrylic in my work… and I don’t use the colours black and grey (again, a form of rebellion). My themes are everyday stuff, relationships… the things that everyone goes through in life besides the war in Afghanistan.
I’ve got two exhibitions lined up for 2009, a joint exhibition on 25th September and a one-man exhibition on 19th October, both in Frome. Mookychicks can come along, or view some of my art on MySpace.
Your MySpace moniker is King of Punk Art?
I am constantly challenged by my work, so I don’t need to be challenged by people’s points of view. I’m very self-critical so I don’t need any triggers to push myself to the max.
You’re 23 but you’ve already been exhibited in shows also featuring Warhol and Banksy. Hugely self-validating, no?
When gallery owners are prepared to step up and exhibit my work, they make money but bizarrely, I’m often told I’m “too young” to have exhibitions.
The 2008 Mauger modern art exhibition was something I always dreamed of. I thought I would have this show in my forties, not at 23, so I was gobsmacked.
I was the youngest in the show and in a way I was the centre of attention. It was amazing. At that show I was accepted, I was treated as a equal. Because I was a outcast in school, because I never fitted in, I finally get to be person I want to be, an outrageous fun guy who lives for art.
That exhibition was my first show in a gallery and it’s still hard for some galleries to take me seriously because of my age. But there are galleries who take me seriously, who don’t look at my work but look at my work instead.
Your art now sells for £1,000 a painting…
My work is priced for a grand by my art dealer in Bath. I think he can see it something that could be called art, I guess…
What’s your perfect working day?
My ideal working day is not a quiet easygoing time! I like to pressure myself and just have a crazy outrageous time with punk/rock music playing, with some art programme on, and I like to have the space I work in covered in paint and art books.
Can you tell us a little about being bullied at school. It was art-related, wasn’t it?
My bullying at school was a nightmare. Classmates and teachers were very cruel to me. Epecially my art teachers – because I can draw like the old masters. All those feelings I kept inside myself? I pour them onto the canvas.
It’s important to stick to what you are good at and never give up. I felt a lot of anger towards the people who bullied me at school and I think that comes out in my work. I think they picked on me because I was quiet and timid and I really liked drawing. The bullying got worse until one day some boys attacked me and my wrist was broken. That was when my parents decided to move me to another school. After that, my confidence started to build up and I went to art college, and from there things have gone from strength to strength.
Was art college a really good place to be?
I went to Radstock art college and it was great, the teachers were very supportive – it was because of them that I got to find my calling as a real artist. Radstock college didn’t have all the equipment but it was wonderful.
Is there anything we really should have asked you but were far too selfish to realise?
I paint for art. I’m no Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin… Those artists I call bullshitters.
Emo artist Steven Farmer
Steven exhibits along with Andy Warhol and Banksy at the 2008 Mauger modern art exhibition
‘lost her 4ever’
‘turned down by katie’