Known for his use of bold colour and expressive geometry, Melbourne artist Spencer Harrison, a.k.a Spenceroni, added another medium to his repertoire (which already included painting, sculpture, printmaking, installation and public murals) in the form of our new 2020 Studio Milligram diaries. We caught up with him to unpack his design process, how he handles work-life balance and what he's working on now.
We are loving the new cover designs on the 2020 Studio Milligram diaries. What was the concept and creative process behind your artworks?
The artworks I created for the 2020 Studio Milligram diaries were inspired by a series of paintings I created for an exhibition in 2018 entitled 'No-self'. This series of paintings was inspired by my mindfulness practice and was an effort to strip back to more simple forms, creating compositions with intricate relationships between form, colour and space. The compositions for each piece were created by collaging cut paper shapes, intuitively cutting shapes, selecting colours and arranging the forms until there was a balance between tension and harmony. The final compositing were designed to act as objects of contemplation, prompting the viewer to pause and be absorbed in a visual experience.
You do a lot of sculptural art and large scale murals. How do those practices influence your designs on products people use every day?
The paintings, sculpture and murals that I work on are central to my practice and allow me to experiment with new ideas and outcomes that then influence my design projects. I love the idea of the applied arts and that fine art can be experienced as part of daily life and not just in the gallery context.
Where do you get your ideas from for your projects and exhibitions?
My projects and exhibitions come about through a process of experimentation and investigation within my studio. I'm often playing with a range of materials and outcomes, delving between painting, sculpture, murals and installation. The common thread between them all would be abstraction, investigating the intersection between abstraction and the world we live in. I also read a lot of books on a diverse range of subjects from quantum physics, to philosophy, art theory, history and more. The ideas from these books combine conceptually with the experimental abstract output to form the final exhibitions and projects that I put together.
Where did the name Spenceroni come from?
The name actually came from an Italian exchange student who was studying at my during my undergraduate degree at university. With her Italian accent she started calling me Spenceroni as a nickname as it was easier for her to pronounce. When I was signing up for instagram I decided to use it as my username as my actual name was taken and it has kind of stuck ever since. I kind of think of the name as a kind of playful alter ego for my art making which is why I sign a lot of my paintings with that name.
Do you think work life balance exists?
In todays busy world it can be difficult to maintain a work life balance but I think it is definitely something that can be actively worked on if someone wanted to. For myself, when I started out working after uni I learnt the hard way the impact it can have on your health and stress levels when you let work take over your life. I found setting strict boundaries around work, such as turning off emails after hours and writing down to-do lists so I wasn't thinking about work when I got home really helped me start to find that balance. These days I try not to do any work on weekends, using that time to spend time with my partner and friends or do cooking and gardening. Having that time away from my work means I'm much more productive on the days I'm in the studio so it works out better than trying to burn the candle at both ends.
How do you keep organised?
I keep things pretty simple in terms of organisation systems, mainly using the tools built into my iPhone due to the ease of access and synchronising with the cloud. A Google calendar synchronised with my phone is my main tool, with all my dates for both work and social occasions in there. I also use the Notes app on my iPhone quite a bit, writing to-do lists in there for upcoming projects. I'm also a fan of reminders on the phone so I'm always asking Siri to remind me to do things (such as go to the post office after work or answer your questions!).
What’s next for you?
Well apart from my arts practice, I'm currently undertaking a Masters of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of Arts so that will be keeping me pretty busy for the next year. Over the summer I'll be working on a small exhibition for January next year at Five Walls gallery where I'll be presenting some new paintings and mural works inspired by the world of science (a current interest of mine!)