“I love using Photoshop as a sketch book.”
The socially conscious British artist Ian Frances uses the internet as the primary source for the images he uses in his multimedia paintings that celebrate and critique our media-inundated world.
In 2001 Francis graduated from the University of the West of England with an honors degree in illustration and although being an avid figurative drawer in his childhood he found illustration was not a particularly good fit.
As he says in a talk given to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Big Ideas program “I felt some bond to illustration and had a vague idea of me doing this because that was my degree, but I am an absolutely terrible illustrator…I hate working to other peoples briefs… I just want to do what I want to do and my work just doesn’t really suit reproduction.”
The devastation of the World Trade Center and the resultant Iraq war found Francis searching the internet for information about was actually happening and along the way he started looking at superficial images from teen dramas.
As he explained “I was kinda fascinated by the play between the two. I found it interesting, especially using the internet, by how quickly you can shift between stuff that is very serious and horrific and between stuff that’s really trivial or absurd or banal. I was just interested in the way the two related.”
By juxtaposing the two Francis creates work that he says "is about pornography and news reports from warzones rather than sex and death."
Using Photoshop Francis creates the ‘roughs’ for his paintings using parts of the images he has found on the internet that suit his purposes. “I search websites in general pretty much every day, I usually save, like, getting on for a 100 pictures a week or so,” he says.
Whilst being derived from the internet Francis’ paintings avoid depictions of their source. As he says “My work isn't about computers or the world wide web specifically, which is why you won't see those elements in my paintings – it's more about the feelings people express through them.”
His current exhibition Ian Francis: The Chosen Form of Your Destroyer is on show at London's Lazarides Rathbone gallery until the 1st of August.