The GraffitiStreet team visited Portsmouth street artist, My Dog Sighs, to check out his new studio ‘The DogHouse!’ and to congratulate him on his recent TED Talk ‘ Lost and Found’, forming part of the TEDxWarwick programme. My Dog Sighs TEDx talk takes us back to his early years when he faced rejection, and how feeling lost was vital to his success as an artist. An inspiring and honest speech that plays with being Lost then Found beautifully. If you haven’t had chance to watch it yet read our selected snippets below mixed in with our studio visit…
“To be ‘found’, you’ve got to embrace being lost. Its far too easy to become focussed on one pathway and not find time to look in other directions”.
“When I was 7 I drew a fish at school and got a gold star for it. It was my first ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moment. I was the kid in the class that could draw. It was enough to set me on my journey to being an artist”.
“After a few years following a good vocational job as a primary school teacher (encouraged by my parents), I decided to throw it all in and follow my dream of becoming a professional artist.”
“I was a fairly technical painter and saw plenty of artwork I could emulate so I hid myself away and painted everything I thought the galleries would like”.
“I visited pretty much every gallery within a 200 mile radius and got pretty much the same response from each and every one. NO! You see, I had my sights on being a gallery showing artist. Not an artist who just happened to be showing in a gallery”.
“Heartbroken I gave up hope, went back to teaching… I hit a creative dead-end and my dream of becoming an artist was lost”.
“So, what happens when you’re lost? You put your head down, physically and metaphorically and you stare at the floor. If, at that point you can begin to look for the interesting and the beautiful, there begins a joy in seeing the world in a different way. The smallest, most insignificant things can change the way you think”.
“For me it was a stencilled Rat sprayed on a wall in London in 2002. I’d initially thought it was about hanging your work in a gallery but this Banksy stencil made me realize that art should always challenge – get you thinking and questioning your everyday existence”.
“If you can, open your eyes to the possibility that, hidden in the most unlikely place could be a spark that sets you off on a new journey”.
“For me, that Banksy Rat, was a catalyst to me finding a new direction and connection with my art…”
“I wanted so badly to start painting again and to have my work interact with an audience. I wanted to make people as confused and inspired as I had been to discover my first pieces of street art”.
“Every Friday I’d take a painting I’d been working on over the week and drop it on the street for someone to find – I coined the name FreeArtFriday“.
“If you are willing to find something where others think there is nothing, you can begin to see the potential in anything. This for me is creative thinking”.
“Tie a tiny personal art project with the growing phenomenon which was the internet and suddenly thousands of people had the opportunity to get involved in the excitement of FreeArtFriday”.
“Every Friday I’d leave a painting on the streets… Nobody curating, nobody saying ‘NO, you can’t do that’…”.
“At the last count FreeArtFriday has travelled to over 1000 communities across all seven continents all actively participating in putting free art out on the streets”.
“It seems that when you’re brave enough to embrace being lost, there will be others out there who begin to share the journey with you”.
“Canvases aren’t cheap and add the cost of materials for something you’re giving away adds up… The solution to both problems came perversely thanks to our throw away society. Doors, timber, paint can lids and cardboard became my canvases of choice”.
“I could take the lost, rejected and unwanted and make it into something worth finding”.
“One morning while looking for a spot to drop my FreeArtFriday I kicked a baked bean tin across the pavement. It had been flattened by traffic and lay squashed and rusted at my feet”.
“I took it back home and added a simple face. Eyes averted (like so many homeless people I see abandoned on the street) it stood hunched and looked so lost”.
“Putting it out the following Friday was incredibly hard. I’d made a connection with it over the week (yes, really – an emotional connection with an empty baked bean tin!?!?!)”.
“This can mirrored my own creative journey so closely. To have been lost, then found, given a new lease of life and let go to travel on its own journey”.
“I have been running my FreeArtFriday project for 13 years, leaving at least one piece of art on the streets every Friday where ever I happen to be”.
“So the next time you’re feeling a little lost. When you’ve hit a dead-end. Embrace it. Take yourself out, maybe even get completely lost. Take a look around at everything with open eyes. Look for the answer in the least expected place. You might find a path worth exploring or maybe even an old baked bean can with a face on it…”.
Photos, from our studio visit, taken by our main man Alex Stanhope.
For artwork by My Dog Sighs check out the GraffitiStreet store here.