RIOT ART GALLERY: A curated selection of art for the next generation collector

Challenging the current state of the world through juxtaposition - Scott Baird

InterviewsErika Belavy

Perhaps influenced by his upbringing in rural Alberta, Scott has a deeply misanthropic nature and a harshly critical view of society. His work communicates his interest in how information of the world is mediated, biased, and disseminated through major news networks and the internet. As an appropriation artist, Scott creates with images taken from these sources, recontextualizes them through altered compositions and direct juxtaposition, and presents the results as graphic art in printed form. His social and political commentary has recently been exhibited across Canada and the United States, as well as abroad in Europe.

How did you decide to become an artist?

I went to art school as an escape from the daily grind of "real life". I had always made paintings and drawings, and decided to start taking that passion more seriously. I didn't call myself an "artist" until I realized that I could actually succeed with my art, and not just use it as a way to hide from the boredom of the 9 to 5 work week. After my first few exhibitions I had the confidence to consider making this my career.

Tell us more about this still life series. What inspires you?

My this is still life series consists of a dozen screenprints that touch on many ideas that inspire me. They examine the artistic genre of still life, incorporate symbolism through representative objects, and challenge the viewer to consider an idea presented through the relationship between these objects.

Printed in a single, blended pull, the objects represented in this series are drawn using a simple line that reminds me of mechanical blueprints and design drawing. I'm inspired by how two objects can be representative of larger and more complex themes and ideologies, and how their connection or juxtaposition allows for interpretation. A typewriter connected to an explosive vest, for example, can evoke discussion on the power of the media, media bias, the recent capture and murders of Western journalists in the Middle East by terror groups, and even issues closer to home including the debate regarding the filming of the police.

What is your creative process?

I appropriate a lot from the mass media. I use the internet and broadcast news as a starting point to generate ideas, and I collect images, text, and links that can later be collaged or in some way incorporated into my prints. I also like to pull from art historical works when the ideas that I'm working with run parallel to those that another artist has already examined. Political cartoons, propaganda posters, graphic novels, and advertisements also contain influential images or interesting compositions that I am drawn to.

Physically, my process involves taking my images and turning them into a stencil or plate for traditional printmaking. I often layer many images together in an impromptu, unplanned fashion until I hit upon a composition that excites me (although my this is still life series doesn't follow that trend). The beauty of being a printmaker is that my work can look photographic, drawn, or painted; by simply choosing the printmaking process that best suits my image (silkscreen, intaglio, relief printing, lithography, etc.) I am able to achieve any effect that can be created using modern digital tools. I enjoy working with my hands, and the complicated, frequently unsafe, and "dated" processes used to make plates for printmaking make me feel more like a mad scientist and sculptor than simply a two-dimensional artist.

What impact do you seek to accomplish with your still life series? How do you do so?

Initially, I was only going to make one of these prints. As I was printing the first of this series, I realized that this HAD to become a full suite of images. Some of the juxtapositions very obviously lead you to a specific issue and are a little confrontational, while a few of the other prints are maybe a bit hard to read, or less obvious about their connection. I don't like to preach or make provocative statements (too often), so I've tried to keep my own voice out of the content in this series as much as possible. 

These prints were made to evoke thoughtful discussion, either about the "dead" genre of still life art, or about the relationships presented within their imagery. They're intended as entry points into a way of thinking, or as a starting point for a discussion that may not have come up without the prints to trigger it. 

If you had a superpower what would it be?

To slow down time. There's never enough time in the day.

Shop Scott's work here.