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Black and white etching by Candice Tripp
Newcastle artist Candice Tripp is known for her Gothic paintings and etchings. She has recently turned her attention to wearable art and will be showcasing her new jewellery collection at Living North’s Christmas Fair, from 2–5 November in Exhibition Park

Can you tell us a bit more about your background?
I was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the UK at the age of 18. In 2005 I met my now husband who lived in Newcastle. I intended to study fashion in the North East, but never got around to it because art presented itself as an exciting, unexpected real-life option.
 
How would you describe your artistic style?
Illustrative, narrative heavy and treading the line between darkness and humour. I’m trying for funny... is it working?
 
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
When I find an answer to that question, I’ll let you know. I think that once an artist establishes their style, they just start to speak through it – and what they’re saying may change over time, much like anyone else’s thoughts and interests do.

What appeals to you about the Gothic style?
I like illustrations that are detail heavy and nature based. Dark in tone and subject matter, but presented in a highly decorative manner.
 
Tell us about the Donnie Darko artwork. How did that come about?
I designed the cover and poster of the 4K multi-disc Blu-ray release that celebrated the film’s 15-year anniversary. I was incredibly fortunate. An email came out of nowhere from a guy called Anthony Nield at Arrow Video. He said he’d been following my work for a while waiting for the right project to offer me and when Donnie Darko came up he sent it my way. 

I was astounded. I didn’t know the protocol and I was terrified because the internet doesn’t treat anyone with mercy and I knew that I would be answerable to a massive fan base, but Anthony was a dream to work with. When I tried to send him mock ups, he said ‘do whatever you want Candice, I trust you’. I’ve since learned that he prides himself on picking artists for jobs based on their sensibilities and I really admire him for that.

What do you think appeals to people about your artwork?
People often find it funny, and once there’s that click they start following to see what else comes up. This is a hunch, but I think it’s perhaps because it harks back to childhood. I feel like I’m presenting people with their old reading books (where every child wore clothes with buttons and laced-up leather shoes) and that speaks to their adult selves.

The kind of art we put on our walls has changed a lot in recent years, it's not just landscapes and portraits but fantasy and alternative art – why do you think that is?
I used to think that too, but I’m starting to suspect that it’s more based on the individual’s perception of what art is, rather than an indicator of the times we’re in. People were hanging graphic screen prints in the 60s and graffiti was breaking ground in the 80s. The difference is that now there’s more access to a larger variety of art and people have the confidence to buy what they want – the internet is good for some things after all.

Why did you move into designing jewellery?
It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for about 10 years, but I felt shut out of the process and I didn’t know where to start. In February I was working with a friend in Bangkok making small brass masks and he suggested that they’d make great pendants. Something unlocked in me and it didn’t seem so impossible anymore. When I returned to the UK I booked a two-day wax carving course and now I make it all myself here in the North East, learning along the way.

Why do you think people are opting for non-traditional jewellery designs?
The world is flooded with traditional jewellery, and it’s a truly wonderful thing to pass down, but if you’re already wearing your grandmother’s ring then you’re less likely to buy another piece like it. This opens up the avenue to buy items that speak more to your personal style.

What appeals to you about statement jewellery?
What I like most about it is that it’s a means for me to express my personality. For a long time I had jobs that didn’t accommodate my then-love for outrageous garb, or my current love for chemically brutalising my hair, but jewellery was a quiet, defiant way of holding on to my personal style. Like art, it exists outside the realm of rules. There’s no right or wrong way to wear it.

Can you talk us through your design process.
I feel like I am still learning, so my process is largely based on choosing a charm that I’d personally like to wear and then see if I can execute it. Right now my design process is based on two simple questions: Would I wear it? Can I make it? If the answer is yes to both, I try like hell to make it happen.

Where did the design for the skull rabbit come from? Do you have any other iconic designs?
It was a knee-jerk design on the course I went on. I was presented with a lump of barely malleable wax to ‘have a play with’ and I thought miserably, I can’t do much with this beyond roll it into a ball. So I tried to make it as nice a ball as possible – with ears. Skulls, rabbits, monkeys and bears are my jam, although jewellery is offering a great avenue to explore two-headed hounds, headless ladies and inhaler pumps – I’ve always wanted an inhaler necklace.

Catch Candice at Living North’s Christmas Fair at Newcastle’s Exhibition Park from 2–5 November. Tickets are available to purchase here.

www.candicetripp.com

Published in: September 2017

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