'The Human Screenprinter' - Tara Hanna chats to Adam Koukoudakis

Adam Koukoudakis, born in 1976, studied Fine Art at Chelsea, Central St Martins and Berlin Institutes. In 2006 his work was driven by the sociopolitical events following the anti-Blair/Bush protestations and influences of the urban art scene. In 2009 he stepped back to re-investigate the personal and autobiographical themes that had first inspired his practice began to incorporated an exploration of visual memories that continue to influence his work today.

In a number of your pieces, such as Dive Doodle, you cover the beneath subject in various ways. Would you say this approach is acquainted with censorship? 

Doodle Dive - Hand applied ink on paper

Doodle Dive - Hand applied ink on paper

I really like your use of the word acquainted by the way, I never see it used and it sounds nice .. . . . . yes I think you’re right. I’m covering the image so that there's a sense of censorship, but not consciously on my part.. I was playing around in the studio and had the image amongst my paraphernalia. I really like the image, I picked it up in a thrift store. It was a book on photography techniques and this image was from a series of 12 of the dive from start to finish. The Doodle is an expression of liberation in the name of the Trust and AoaP! 

What I mean is, usually I make very technical pieces which take a long time to execute, and never allow myself to be so free with my regular practice, but I think you guys were a conduit for something, and it expressed itself that way. 

Is censorship something that interests you as an artist? 

I wouldn’t say so if I’m honest, sorry - I did type a much longer response but then realised it sounded a little ZZzzzzz'y.

What is the thought process behind the placement of the obstruction, which in itself becomes the subject? And is the material used informed by the subject it covers in any way?

The process of this piece was very playful and relaxed so there was no real conscious thought behind the covering up. . .but then now thinking about it I have used censorship in the past when I made paintings using a big flat circle of colour to cover the identities of people. . .but that was many years ago - here check this lot out http://www.jealousgallery.com/artists/adam-koukoudakis

There is no really theoretical or consciously “grown up” behaviour occurring in this piece. . . .it's me in the playground.

I know previously you have noted that your earlier work indulged in the aesthetic but has recently become more conscious in what it tries to explore and convey. Was there anything in particular, any pivotal moment or circumstance, which caused this change in approach to your artwork?

Ah I see what you’re saying - fair comment. So to explain this collaboration with you guys was kind of like being given carte blanche to play and experiment, which is what I love about it the most. I think I try to make the postcards little parcels of... I can't think what word to use, but more magical in the creative process that brings them into being? Go* that sounds pretentious sorry...

You have been referred to as the ‘human screen printer’, with your hand rendered half tone bendy dots, how come you often employ painting to create characteristics reminiscent of printing? Is it to do with the process of painting, or the quality and materiality of the paint/ink?

Nice question - I think a bit of both and everything. I’ve been asked similar questions in the past and have asked myself too. I think it comes from a mixture of nurturing and timing of the right things at the right time, mixed with a Virgo who has a very anal eye and obsessive DNA which I got at Central Saint Martins. My tutor at Central Saint Martins was Emma Talbot. She was fantastic and led me down the screen printing path in my first year after I’d done my first “body of work” in the form of some collages. Emma then suggested I make a screen print of the strongest collage, and I did. Weeks/months later, having spent a good spell at the CSM screen print studios I was at home and started playing around on the OHP with the acetates that we’d printed off. I was fascinated with being able to recreate something almost photo realistic by hand at first, then photo realistic. Later on down the line when the pixels got larger (they were really small at first) you began to realised that the further away you got the clearer things became, and I figured with a metaphor like that running through the work it was fair game.

In the process, with canvasses, inks and brushes you sacrifice yourself to the piece, for all the hours some of my paintings can take. It's like paying penance, but the works on Bristol board txt I do with markers are much freer.

I also love the benday and their shapes and curves. . .

I had always painted my dots using inks and brushes, for the last 15 years. Until a good friend of mine and yours (Russell Marshall) popped over to the studio for a creative love in, and being another appreciator of the benday he bought over some fantastic marker pens which I haven’t stopped using. They’ve allowed me to work much quicker and with equal satisfaction. I feel like I’m being unfaithful to canvas and ink with my mistress Bristol board and marker pens!!!

Finally the hand applied ink doodle in Dive Doodle differs from the hand applied dots we often see integrated into your images. Is this a deliberate move away from the aesthetics of print making? Can we expect to see more works of this kind in the future?

More lovely questions!! Can you interview me again?!?!? It was a subconscious decision to move away from the pixels for sure. . .hold on. Is my conscious mind allowed to speak about my subconscious mind so suredly? Sorry I digress. . . 

Yes you can expect to see more works like that.

About the writer

Tara is an Art Foundation and History of Art graduate born and bred in London. She has travelled the globe extensively, immersing herself in the vibrant arts and cultures the world has to offer, and hopes her next adventure will take her to India! She is currently teaching English as a foreign language whilst enjoying volunteering at Art on a Postcard, and she hopes to break into the art world!