[Interview] Tasmanian Artist David Booth, aka Ghostpatrol, Is Taking on the World
He's currently working on a large scale exhibition in northern Iceland.
David Booth, Spaceship One (Studio) (2016). All images courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery
Prolific Tasmanian-born artist David Booth, aka Ghostpatrol, can’t seem to sit still. Now based in Melbourne, his sketches, ceramics, murals, paintings, and GIFs have garnered attention across the globe.
With roots as a street artist, Booth began showing in commercial galleries in 2008. He has continued since with solo exhibitions, group shows, murals, films, acquisitions at the National Gallery of Australia, and a long-term residency at Adelaide’s Hugo Michell Gallery. He’s worked throughout the UK, Europe, Japan, and the US.
Booth is currently in northern Iceland, working on a large scale exhibition that’s due to open in 2018. The Creators Project caught up with him to find out more about his previous and upcoming projects.
The Creators Project: How did you end up working as a full time artist?
David Booth: I've been drawing and making things since I was a little kid. I grew up in Tasmania in the 80s and was pretty aware of feeling a long way away from the rest of the world. I loved making small zines, posters, wooden things, stencils and repainting my skateboard. I never really considered it 'art' though.
Did you go to art school?
I didn't really consider going to art school, even though making stuff was my passion and the only thing I really liked doing. While studying at university, I started making a lot of stencils, stickers, paste-ups and keeping a sketchbook. This was also a time when I was connecting with other artists and started publishing my work online. The early 2000s were a pretty exciting time for me, I felt really welcomed into international creative communities via the internet. After graduating, I lived in Sydney, then in Manchester. By the start of 2006 I had settled in Melbourne, and I quit my last proper job when I was selling enough paintings to live off.
You work across so many mediums. Do you have a favourite?
The basis for all my work is drawing, so I find that everything new I try feeds back into that. I've been really lucky to collaborate with many people from other disciplines that span beyond visual art—which has had a huge impact upon how I make work. I love working with architects and lately I've been pursuing some music projects as well.
Are there other artists you’ve worked with who have inspired you?
I'm lucky to have been encouraged by a very supportive community, especially in Melbourne. Two people who had a big impact on me starting out were Dylan Martorell and Nathan Gray—I shared a studio with them briefly in 2006. The other two dudes that had a big impact on my drawing are Matt Sewell and Kid Acne. Currently, I've been relying on Reko Rennie for mentoring, advice and friendship. My close circle of art friends, art therapy, and the people who have the biggest impact on my work are Tristan Jalleh, Carla McRae, Andre Piguet and Evie Cahir. I think it’s really important to have mentors in art and life. The generosity of others has inspired me to take on this same responsibility so I now teach and mentor other young artists.
Where are your favourite places to exhibit?
I’ve been really lucky to exhibit in many different places. I’ve had the ability to show consistently with the same commercial gallery [Hugo Michell Gallery] for the past seven years. I know the space well and I love designing bodies of work to fit that space. I also spend a lot of time in Japan and really enjoyed recently exhibiting a set of sculptures in a nice old traditional space in Tokyo, with tatami mat floors.
Which projects are you most proud of?
At the moment I think I'm still the only person to have painted murals on wind turbines, they're easily my favourite achievements. The wind farm that I painted was the first community owned one in Australia. I’m very proud to align my artwork with my political beliefs, and they were super fun to paint with my team of assistants, as we camped out under the giant turbines, and we celebrated them with the local community that they power. I also have a set of ongoing projects with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and I find this work to be inspiring and humbling. I feel very lucky to be able to balance my commercial and art world work with these real projects.
David Booth is exhibiting later this year in Melbourne with work inspired by Matisse, based around a pilgrimage he made to France last year. You can find out more about him here and follow him on Instagram.