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ART / INTERVIEWS / PAINTING & ILLUSTRATION

A Visionary Approach: The Symbolic Narrative of Stuart Griggs

Delicately hinged on the cusp of dreams and reality, Stuart Griggs’ visionary art takes us beyond our physical realm, and to another dimension, with multifaceted themes of death and renewal, hope and mysticism. His silhouettes speak to the viewer with bold, representational elements that entwine a metaphysical narrative. Born curious, we are compelled by the story he tells. From shapeshifters to pathfinders, the wilds of his artistry manifests the otherworldly.

A creative archetype that utilizes both traditional and digital tools, the result of his compositional fluency feels as if we are reaching into the depths of his imagination and drawing from it a complex characterization of his vision that is…magical…spiritual…supernatural…and something far deeper than the rebirth of symbols he shares with us.

There is a tangle of emotion in Stuart’s attention to detail. It seems to foster the intricacies of his abstract and emblematic style like an allegorical interpretation wrapped tightly by his distinct methods to pique our interest and heighten the senses. And it certainly does.  

If you dare to wander, come along on this transformative experience that shapes his avant-garde approach and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. Travel with us as we explore the work of Stuart Griggs.

For me, drawing is foundational for visual art-making. As a process, it brings the mind and body into alignment and allows ideas and imaginal forms to crystallise and flow organically. On the other hand, digital art-making tools have multi-dimensional possibilities for the artist. They can lead the creative process into inventive and unexplored territories, which are enormously potent and exciting.

stuart-griggs-supernatura
Supernatural

About the Artist // Stuart Griggs is a visual artist of the imaginal, originally from Wales in the UK and currently living in Brighton. He has completed a BA in Fine Art painting at the University of Wales and has worked for many years as a graphic designer and illustrator. His work has been exhibited and featured internationally at galleries, festivals, cultural events and installation design projects. Stuart’s work explores the intersections between drawing and digital art, synthesising the two into a unique and idiosyncratic language. He explores and offers a journey into the creative process that immerses and probes into the psychic pool of collective archetypal energies.

Multidimensional spaces and symbols merge together to manifest the primordial and the transpersonal. Abstract and representational elements are interwoven with themes of death and rebirth, hope, mysticism, animism, fertility, ritual and flow. The creative outcome is a cross cultural fusion that utilises new technology while integrating archaic elements and stylistic influences from symbolism, surrealism, abstraction, and contemporary art. This visionary approach is a mirror of the necessity of our current times to find new emerging paradigms of interconnectivity within ourselves and nature.

Nature shows us how profoundly interconnected we all are, but the world we have created celebrates disconnection. I am inspired by her messages in the visions that emerge from my psyche and attempt to distill them into the creative act. Nature is the sacred muse and art appears to be a reflection of our deeper nature.

Exclusive Interview With Stuart Griggs

Stuart, it’s lovely to meet you. Thank you for taking time to speak with us…we’re thrilled to share your unique art with our readers!

The representational distinctions in your work call to fantasy, mysticism, and a visionary landscape that piques the viewer’s curiosity fervently. What can you tell us about your muse?

The greatest muse I draw from is nature. The living, breathing natural universe that surrounds us is the most potent creative force that reminds us of the incredible wisdom of ecosystems. I enjoy creating ecosystems of mystery in my creative projects that allow the viewer to find their own narrative in the complexity of forms coming together. Nature shows us how profoundly interconnected we all are, but the world we have created celebrates disconnection. I am inspired by her messages in the visions that emerge from my psyche and attempt to distill them into the creative act. Nature is the sacred muse and art appears to be a reflection of our deeper nature.

Things that awaken my senses help the creative flow, whether it is forest of beach walks that connect me with a different flow, music and meditative practices that help me journey a bit further or deeper into the imaginal realm, looking at art on the web and in my art books that move me through other artist’s language.

Your vision seems creatively hinged between elements of light and dark surrealism, life and death, birth and renewal. What do you feel commands your artistic nature the most?

I experience making art as a meaning making process. My deepest experiences have come from expanded states of consciousness and awareness and the creative act is an extension of these experiences; if you like, it is the journey of integrating them through art-making. The immersion into the creative journey is a way of referencing, exploring and understanding the experiences one encounters in expanded states of consciousness. The imagination is the vehicle that can contain the whole spectrum of being, from the light and dark dimensions of the psyche, into a unified visual narrative. These deep inner journeys and outer visual journeys of death and rebirth shed a light on the process of renewal and regeneration that are urgently needed into our current societies. I enjoy work that holds a message of who we are as a species and where we are heading, and all that can guide us along the way. Such narratives can be uniquely woven into the language of art and transmitted to the viewer with great immediacy.

When your internal pieces need inspiration, where do you turn?

I need inspiration the most in the early embryonic stages of an image. It is a demanding process of allowing something to emerge rather than forcing something into being and I need to allow myself to enter a perceptive space not only when I focus on the work but in the spaces in between, the everyday. Things that awaken my senses help the creative flow, whether it is forest of beach walks that connect me with a different flow, music and meditative practices that help me journey a bit further or deeper into the imaginal realm, looking at art on the web and in my art books that move me through other artist’s language. When I begin developing an image, and I need inspiration, I feel I need to be intentionally receptive to the many facets of my everyday visual experience as well of my inner states and draw from both the outer and the inner.  

Do you remember the first piece of artwork you ever created? What was it and does it correlate in any way to your present inclinations?

I always thought of myself as an artist ever since I can remember. Creative expression always felt intrinsic to me, to who I am and what I do. I can’t remember an exact first piece of artwork, but I remember constantly copying comic book images as a young boy, intrigued by the particular aesthetics of different comic book artists, their lines, their tonalities, their message. These early influences enkindled a way of mark-making that built the foundation for a somewhat graphic, line art based way of working. I followed my early love and interest in this type of mark-making further by specialising during my art degree in fine art printmaking and it has influenced my subsequent work as a graphic designer. 

Is there a particular (current) artwork that you feel most connected to and would to us why?

From my most recent pieces of work, the one I feel the deepest connection to is, “Compassion”. I enjoy how it works as an image, with its own authentic voice, freedom and flow. There is a colour and spatial harmony that surround its core message of centered awareness that all is one, and that all is to be included for a greater wholeness and a sense of peaceful surrender.

Peaceful surrender, I like that. Your work also explores both traditional art and digital art. What is it about the marriage of these mediums that appeal to you?

For me, drawing is foundational for visual art-making. As a process, it brings the mind and body into alignment and allows ideas and imaginal forms to crystallise and flow organically. On the other hand, digital art-making tools have multi-dimensional possibilities for the artist. They can lead the creative process into inventive and unexplored territories, which are enormously potent and exciting. Throughout history artists have readily embraced the latest technological tools available to them in their contemporary setting, from print making presses to the camera obscurer. The electronic tablets and software are, however, just tools. Art is more than the tools used to create it, but rather the vision, message, or emotion of the artist and their capacity to bring it into a cohesive form. The vital basis of artistic expression – form and content, line, colour, composition and rhythm – is deeply embedded in traditional art practice. Amalgamating traditional methods of working like drawing with digital tools seems to imbue the inert pixels and vectors with the magic of the human essentia. I find the combination of the two a creatively rich territory to explore, and a wonderful synergy.

I show up at my desk, in my home, as I always have. However, there has been a pervasive and unsettling shift in our everyday experience compounded by a great deal of collective anxiety and uncertainty.

stuart-griggs-threshold
Threshold

Describe your artistic ethos in a few words.

Reflecting beauty, wonder and potential. Reflect, transformational, potential and wonder.   Mediating Depths of Beauty and Wonder.  Developing Collective Healing Images.

Staying centered in the midst of the uncertainty is an ongoing practice.

Given the current state of the world, life seems forever changed, and we are changed in it. How have the last couple of years affected you?

The events of last couple of years haven’t significantly altered the patterns of my work life. Creatively, it’s the same routine. I show up at my desk, in my home, as I always have. However, there has been a pervasive and unsettling shift in our everyday experience compounded by a great deal of collective anxiety and uncertainty. I see the last two years as a collective initiative descent into the shadow and it has led us all, to some degree, to grapple with our lives, who we are, and our belonging. It has been a challenging time to navigate for us all. I find that it has had a somehow positive impact in that it has strengthened my connection to my centering meditative practice and I have come to appreciate many things I used to take for granted in the flow of the everyday. Staying centered in the midst of the uncertainty is an ongoing practice. Through this period of spiralling polarisation and dissonance, it seems essential to be grounded by a sense of purpose and to be cultivating greater capacity for holding complexity and responding mindfully to the world around us. My deepest wish is that this adversity can be a vital trigger for greater self inquiry and for listening to the messages of the earth helping us as a much needed societal and planetary change.

This might sound cliché but what is the best advice you’ve ever received… and what would you pass along to someone who needed to feel inspired?

Do it just because you love the process of making art. This was advice from my partner, resounding and seemingly simple but overlooked at the time. I would readily pass it on.

We must be willing to shed the comfort of certainty for the richness of diversity and complexity.

Indeed good advice. Now please tell us, what was the last rabbit hole you fell down?

I have burrowed in and out of a few rabbit holes in recent times as we all have in the midst of current global events and our attempts at making sense of the world we are in, and its fast pacing erratic changes. They mostly seemed to have the purpose of returning me to a vantage point of presence upon resurfacing. Creative meaning making requires that we follow the path wherever that may lead, but to also be well anchored and grounded to find our way back and integrate the process. We must be willing to shed the comfort of certainty for the richness of diversity and complexity. There are times when we must preserve our resources for what matters to us the most…and in recent times, limiting social media and general screen time has been the most important change to manage overwhelm and stay present with what is.

What else can you do with a paintbrush?

I am more resourceful with a pencil or fine tip pen than a paintbrush. They have an immediacy that really supports me in initiating the image-making process. After years of specialising in digital art, working with digital brushes feels intrinsically more familiar and intuitive to me. I will use a traditional brush for glazing canvases.

Becoming more versatile in integrating traditional paintbrush work with digital tools may be a way to bridge the gap between the two even further.

What artistic medium or style would you like to explore?

I always feel that spending more time developing drawing, particularly the dynamics of figures and form in perspective, would be beneficial. I think it can help with better visual and conceptual articulation, as I often come up against my limitations. Although, I always discover creative ways to work around them. Moving forward, I also feel creatively drawn to developing the inking style further as I enjoy the flow, versatility, and visual potential it offers. Working digitally with Photoshop and Illustrator requires regular learning and training cycles. It is an ongoing process of deepening my inquiry into this work and keeps me intrigued and engaged. One drawback with working digitally is that the concept of ‘originals’ becomes obsolete and those attracted to having art in their spaces are still quite attracted to them. Becoming more versatile in integrating traditional paintbrush work with digital tools may be a way to bridge the gap between the two even further.

And last, but never least, what is on your horizon?

I have been curating an art space for the most prominent psychedelic conference in Europe, Breaking Convention, for a number of years. The conference itself was cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions and we are looking forward to opening the doors again this summer. I look forward to bringing work from artists that I respect and admire under one roof, for an audience that has a unique connection to the imaginal realm through their interest in expanded states. I look forward to the medicine of community and art synergising again freely.

Stuart Griggs Social Media Accounts

Website | Facebook | Instagram

About Author

Internationally exhibited artist and creator of Wooden Ophelia, Bella Harris is not only the Online Editor at Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, she also oversees all staff writers and helps support website functionality and development. As a contributing writer for the website, active copy editor, and editorial photographer, she plays a vital role in the growth of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine while working closely with advertisers and artists. Wooden Ophelia is a contemporary collection of original moon designs, handmade woodwork, artwork furnishings, and sacred crystals... all to enchant your home.

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