Interview at his home/studio in Lido on July 5th 2015
KL: So you were interviewed by another publication but you felt it didn't seem like yourself. Who's the real Nate Rood?
NR: It's not that there are different versions of me. It's not me. I'm a big believer that you are who you are. Love it or hate it.
KL: What do you think the biggest difference is between someone who does take themself seriously and someone who doesn't? Essentially what does it boil down to?
NR: Starting this website and launching it, you're going to meet different kinds of people, some who take themselves extremely seriously and some people who don't give a fuck what other people think. What's the difference? They're all creating art, they're all doing their own thing. I mean, everyone takes it seriously. But your attitude to how it's received can either be serious or it can be like, well okay I don't really know what I'm doing, people can look at it and make up what they think.
KL: I think that's a great difficulty because so many people when they look at art have this feeling that they're not qualified to look at it.
NR: And that's wrong. That's not true. Everyone can look at a picture and make a decision as to if they like it or not. I find this quite appealing. It's good. I like it. I like it 'cause it has these colours or these shapes and it comes down to just base value. There's no justification for liking something. There's massive justification for disliking something.
KL: It's seen as such an intellectual thing.
NR: It's not based on how smart you are. I think it's just a base instinct. You know which colours you like. You know which shapes you like. You know how they fit together. I don't see art as something that's intellectual at all. It's just a natural regurgitation of what you've seen for the last two weeks. I don't sit in that room and think, 'Oh fuck! I'm gonna make this picture about something that no one can possibly comprehend.' I don't do that. I just regurgitate what I've enjoyed, what I've liked, what I've seen, what I've experienced and just put it into very simple forms so, hopefully, someone else can experience the same thing. I'm not tying to encourage people to do it. I'm not trying to force people to do it. It's just there if they want it.
KL: How much of a compulsion is it?
NR: Massive. I mean, for me personally, every day, at least two or three hours. It's like a job away from my job.
KL: That's what I'm noticing when speaking to artists. There are associations that we have with work whether financial or keeping us pure of heart or something.
NR: Working is a different thing. Work that I get paid for I don't see as the same kind of work. That's a form of slavery. My work in this room is all about me. It's got nothing to do with anyone else. It's how I unwind when I get home. First thing I do is walk through the door and put all the beer cans I bought in the fridge, take my shoes off, crack one open, go in there, put on a horror film and start painting. That's it, that's what I do. That's like my comfort zone. I'm watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the ninety-fifth time but I'm in my comfort zone.
KL: Your art doesn't seem particularly aggressive at all.
NR: I don't know, I think the way I try to make anything is like - simplify it. Make it more accessible. Not for me. I could deal with thousands of lines, I have the attentions span to deal with it but are they necessary? Just give it frame. Something that makes sense, something that has rhythm, has shape and colour.
KL: So when you look at it, that frenzy that you just explained, the way that you work...
NR: Makes me feel calm, I don't know why.
KL: And that calm comes through. But if you look at your artworks do you see that frenzy that surrounds their creation?
NR: I can usually remember the album or movie I was watching. It's an interesting scenario, someone told me the other day, 'if you could write down every album you listened to while you were making a picture on the back of it, or every movie you watched,' it would be kind of an interesting breakdown.
KL: So along the lines of the compulsion, if for some reason I chopped your arms off and you couldn't actually do it any more -
NR: Do you think that'd stop me?
KL: Then think of some other hypothetical scenario where you can't actually paint anymore.
NR: I'll be honest with you, if you cut my left arm off I probably would kill myself.
KL: So it's essential to life?
NR: It's just a way for me to, I can't think of what the basic way to explain it, it's just what I do. That's how I calm down. I'm not an aggressive person at all. Hopefully I don't come across as that. But I'm very, very, very, very angry about everything. The way things work out. I'm just furious that people do not understand or play by the same rules. And that is definitely the source of everything that I've ever made in my entire life.
KL: What if you had some inner peace?
NR: I don't know where or how -
NR: No, no, no. Religion is a fucking scapegoat. Religion is a waste of time. Are you joking?!
KL: Yes, I am.
NR: I know you are but which religion would you like me to undertake? If I could do anything, If I could do whatever I want, I'd probably be drunk all week and then die. A job keeps me in check but I hate it. I hate having that responsibility. But I need that responsibility to remain a normal human being. I think, being a creative person, you can find more creative ways to kill yourself.
KL: I think it's really interesting to think of art as a compulsion because success in creativity is elusive and seems to be based somewhat on, I don't know, what do you think? How is luck, how much is talent and how much is perseverance?
NR: I don't think perseverance pays off at all. You just keep doing it and doing it and doing it. There's no endgame. Endgame? Sorry, I've just gone very American. I don't know, I'm yet to find out. I am perseverant, I do continue to do it. Open that fucking door and see how many pictures are in there.
[KL opens door to discover a large storage space stacked to the rafters with bubble-wrapped canvases]
KL: Holy fuck, that's a lot!
NR: When you make art, everyone makes it for different reasons, but for me personally, I make and then, it's all to do with my acceptance of colours and shapes and just combining different things and thinking, okay I'm happy with the way that that looks. These things work well together and they compliment each other but it works so quickly and so sporadically that I can't keep up. There's always like ten ideas in my head and I've only got six canvasses. I'm constantly trying to catch up. So I can never have enough surface to work on. I fill rooms full of stuff in a matter of weeks.
KL: How does that feel as far as getting all of that out onto a canvas and then wrapping that canvas in plastic and putting it in a cupboard?
NR: Obviously that's not what I want to do. I don't want to wrap it in plastic and put it in a cupboard but I'm also a little bit unsure about who should see it or where it should be displayed. I don't know. I'm not egotistical enough to know that, 'oh, my work needs to be displayed!' Some people are very egotistical about that, you know – I made it, so it needs to be displayed. I don't care, I'm quite happy for it to rot away in that cupboard and no one looks at it ever. For me it's not showing it to someone that's most important, it's getting it out of myself. So if anyone never sees it, my goal is just milking it out of myself, just like, calm down, calm down. Drink a little bit less and stop thinking about this and once I start doing it I feel much calmer. But the byproduct is all this stuff.
KL: How much has your style evolved and how much do you think it's evolved depending on your mental state? How much do you think is outside influence, obviously you have artists who have inspired you?
NR: I think it's impossible for anyone, literally anyone, to say all my influence is this one person. Like maybe they are influential and they play a part but I don't know how people say, my influence is this or... The way I look at it is you consume everything and then what you regurgitate is your response to what you've eaten. It's impossible to look at Francis Bacon and say, 'oh yeah, I really like Francis Bacon,' then make a painting that doesn't look like Francis Bacon. It's clearly going to be in your subconscious somewhere. So I think the way I tackle it is, rather than quote direct influences, just eat it all. Everything. Patterns, colours, textures, shoes, everything and then just see what happens. Somewhere, in your subconscious, your brain goes, that painting's pretty cool but with this texture and this pattern. Somehow it works out. I feel like a Hoover, I'm constantly just sucking things in.
KL: I think you should create a false narrative for each piece.
NR: I do that all the time. I used to be honest but now I'm like, fuck it, I'm not doing it anymore. I just tell them what they want to hear. So what's this picture about? Exactly what you told me on that bus ride once.
Nate Rood is an English mixed-media artist living in China. He has had exhibitions in both England and Korea and locally at Modernista, Old What Bar and Steam Punk. If you would like to see more visit www.naterood.com