Mind Candy offices.
Set up by James Burke and Paul Arad ten years ago, the Shoreditch based office is on a daily mission to bring conceptual art out of the gallery and closer to the public. Crossing art, interiors and graphics their installations tease out individuality while being bang on brand each time.
Acyrlicize more or less started straight out of university. James graduated in contemporary art and Paul graduated in business. “I studied at Manchester combining art with music, so it was all quite conceptual which really resonated with me. And, it was the ideas behind accessibility of conceptual art that we then continued afterwards.
Throwing the last of their student savings into an exhibition they set about making their ideas known. “For that first exhibition we worked all night and then took the project up on a train. When we got there, we did all sorts of beginner things like hanging it up the wrong way round and never ending last minute changes. Luckily though, the BIDA spotted it with a mentioned in the press which led to a pitch at Selfridges.”
Their first big business break came when they knocked on the door of Wembley Stadium. “Again, it was working late nights and weekends, we even roped our mates into it because then we didn’t have an established portfolio in those days. In the end, we were awarded the job to curate and design all their art work which huge for us. It was about five hundred pieces, and that turned into our springboard really.”
Project working with Buckely Gray Yeoman architects
It was while doing such a large project that the idea of accessible art turned from just acrylic into bespoke installations using any material. “A lot of people find conceptual art detached and can’t engage with it. So when I first graduated I wanted to create the antithesis of that” explains James. “The picture frame was something everyone could relate to and at the time a contemporary alternative was to use Acrylic. But it was whilst doing the Wembley project that we thought maybe Acrylic isn’t right every single time for every single project.”
“For us, each story is different, each person, space and project is very different,” says James. “And we thought maybe our work should reflect that. Telling a unique story is at the heart of our work.”
Working between architect, interior designer and end user Acrylicise creates more than just a piece of art to hang on the wall but makes the wall itself a piece of art. By weaving art into the very fabric of the building, art appears in the everyday places where people spend most of their time.
“Having a sensitivity for the architect’s work is crucial and we are always aware of context when we are working on someone else’s scheme. “There’s a strong collaborative spirit, which is very different to an artist being locked away in their room.”
So how do they tease out a story? “There’s a lot of time spent with analysis of client. It’s an important stage for us, and while the architects may have already gone through a similar process. We still do our workshops because it brings something else out.”
“The interesting this with art is you don’t know what you want till you see it. It’s not like furniture or wall colours where you can refer to a catalogue.”
“So we come in and don’t know where the journey is going. And this is where it’s important to make the clients feel comfortable with that process, so they don’t feel like they are being led blind but that it’s all part of the journey.
James believes to unearth an installation that inherently reflects their clients then listening is key. “It’s important to just listen and to push, test and push again out of the comfort zone.”
Winning the FX award is not only credibility for their individuality but also a “good step up” for the studio as James says. “We’ve been working really hard over the last ten years, not really thinking about winning awards but just doing good work and giving it everything we’ve got pushing things forward in terms of art outside the gallery space. But the fact its reader voted is nice, like the cherry on the top.”
Winners of the FX 2014 Breakthrough Talent.
Thank you James for helping others craft and create their own career story.
This YourStoree interview was edited for the web.