Last month saw Titan’s release of The Art of John Harris – Beyond the Horizon. A carefully curated collection of artist John Harris’ recent work and older pieces. It’s large format beautifully showcases a variety of Mr. Harris’ futuristic paintings, sketches, acrylics and watercolours.
To celebrate, Titan Books very kindly gave us the opportunity to interview John Harris about the book and his career.
Q. You have dedicated over 30 years to Sci-Fi. What attracted you into the genre, and what is it about Sci-Fi that has sustained your interest?
A. The sense of a larger perspective, wider horizons, the unknown, something about the evolutionary possibilities of Man. All of that.
Q. You often seem to combine of the fantastical with the plausible, incorporating building and mechanical structures that are familiar. Is this a conscious effort to make your worlds more believable?
A. Yes, this is a crucial point, mixing the possible with the apparently impossible. We may pretend to know the difference but actually, we just don’t know what is possible. Embedding fantasy within the known and credible, makes it easier to relate to, and also raises the question ‘how?’. There is excitement there, in that question.
Q. Born in London, you now live and work in Devon. How much do you think your environment influences your work?
A. Yes, living in a rural setting has definitely shaped a lot of the imagery. The weather and the light that springs from it makes its presence felt in much of the work. And the cycle of growth and decay which is always in your face here, is constantly finding its way in.
Q. Do you stick to a routine when producing your artwork?
A. No, I try to break routines when I become aware of them. When I get into habits of production, I start repeating myself in the work.
Q. How important is it for you that the final image matches the vision you have in your head?
A. This is a delicate point. I do usually have a clear image in my head to begin with, but inevitably accidents occur (and I encourage these), which may suggest alternative directions. I try to keep open to them. But some images are imperative and demand to be produce, willy nilly.
Q. At the Lounge our primary goal is to widen artists’ pool of inspiration. So who are the artist/illustrators that inspire you?
A. Just about every artist I have ever seen, has something I would like to have. I think all artists are basically magpies and too many to mention have contributed to what I am.
That said, when I was a student, I identified very closely with the work of the English Romantics like Turner and John Martin. They influenced my direction, as did the Surrealists. From a technical point of view, Whistler was a great teacher for me and more recently Graham Sutherland. All very Old School, I know.
Q. Reading about your career, you have achieved a great deal. So what’s on the horizon for you? Do you have any artistic goals that you are still chasing?
A. I feel (like most artist, I suspect) that I’ve hardly started. And yet, looking at the collection in this book, I see that I’m travelling in a definite direction. But what the goal is, who knows? That’s beyond the horizon.