This week we’re joined by level 5 Fine Art student, Elliot Birt. He broke down to us how his creative process begins with an idea in his notebook, and gave us an insight into his ‘very rough 5-year plan’.
STUDENTS’ UNION: HI Elliot, thanks for giving us some of your time! Do you want to start by telling us a bit about the type of work you produce?
ELLIOT BIRT: I produce mainly conceptual artwork. One thing I do always go back to though is drawing, I love drawing. I see it as the foundation of my artistic practice.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Well I guess that explains why you’re president of the Life Drawing Society! What’s your creative process when it comes to creating your conceptual work? I imagine it takes quite a bit of prior planning?
ELLIOT BIRT: It always starts with an idea. I have a little notebook that I jot down all my art ideas in, and then from there, I go about researching the hell out of it. I find it helps to just start making things, even if I don’t fully understand the idea yet. The act of just creating something helps me to understand. I find that with me, my creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes I’m full of ideas and things just seem to be clicking, but on other days my brain just seems to dry up and I feel about as creative as a Soviet-era apartment block.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Hahaha. So on the days when you’re not a Soviet-era apartment block, where would you say the inspiration for your ideas come from?
ELLIOT BIRT: I find inspiration in all sorts of places, I read a lot and I watch a lot of films. I see myself as a sort of information sponge, soaking up everything and anything.
STUDENTS’ UNION: When there’s so much on offer to us it would be hard not to pick up on something every now and then. Are there any ideas from your notebook that you expanded on lately, or any source of inspiration that has spurred you to create a piece of work?
ELLIOT BIRT: Well with my most recent work I was thinking a lot about the idea of how as artists, we can sometimes obstruct our own artwork. The artistic ego can sometimes take the limelight away from what I see as the most important thing, the artwork. So with this in mind, I tried to convey the message (to other artists) of exhibiting certain pieces of artwork anonymously, removing the artist from distracting the message of the artwork. I wanted to create discord where artists would really think about their own relationship to what they create and for them to see the artwork as a thing in itself and not as something that is a part of themselves.
STUDENTS’ UNION: That sounds like it was a really strong project. It can often be hard for artists to detach themselves from their work and take a step back to view it as a spectator rather than the artist because what is created can often be incredibly personal.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Where do you hope your art takes you? Do you have a plan for the future?
ELLIOT BIRT: To be honest I have no idea and I kind of like that. I have no hopes or desires for fame or fortune. If at the end of my artistic career I can look back and see I’ve done some good, even if it’s only something small then I’ll consider it a successful one and that’s all I hope for. In saying that, I do have a very rough five-year plan.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Break it down for us, we’d love to hear it!
ELLIOT BIRT: Well, I’m trying to figure out a way of financially supporting myself but still leave myself enough time to be creative. I’m considering art therapy as an option because it’s a way of helping people which is my sole motivation for making art, and also by freelancing, it’ll give me more flexibility to pursue my own creative practice.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Well we all have our fingers crossed for you that that happens for you!
We’d like to thank Elliot for taking the time out to speak to us, and if you’d like to see more of his work, you can find him on Instagram at, @billyiselliot! As mentioned, Elliot is the President of the Life Drawing Society, so if that’s something that you would like to be a part of, you can do so by clicking here! The society meets every Tuesday at 6.30pm in term time via Google Meets.