Artist Volker Stox is a creator, architect and former music video maker who lives in the far west of Cornwall perched hight above the coast. From his house one can watch the last of the British mainland’s daytime light slip away or, as has been the case lately, watch the storms rushing in from across the atlantic.
“The light here is stunning,” says Volker. “It it easy to see why artists like Patrick Heron and others lived around here.” The January afternoon light is pouring into the studio as if to emphasise Volker’s point. It is here in the west that Volker Stox has made his home with his partner John, and when I say made I mean it. The former architecture student and practitioner created a seamless extension the existing house and designed and built the studio in which we sit to discuss his artwork.
“The challenge was to give the impression that the place wasn’t new,” says Volker. I can only nod as it all looks old and in keeping with the original part of the house. “I’ve kept up with the architecture. I love it and it influences me. You’ll probably notice it in the art I create.”
For some time now Volker’s art works have been created on computer before being printed on canvas or paper. “I use a little Apple computer and software like Photoshop,” he explains. “I have a little pad and electronic pen.” Volker makes it all sound simple as if anyone could do it. “There’s nobody stopping anybody from doing the same thing. So when somebody says ‘I can do that’, they’re right, they can. They don’t, but they can”.
“At an exhibition at The Exchange (Penzance), which had some of my prints on show, I ran an little stall so visitors could have a little go. We had a large printer set up so those having a go could print out the creations they produced. It was very exciting printing out what people had done right there. It showed anyone can do it”.
So what makes Volker Stox unique? “Because it is my work. What really matters is the work, not the machinery. If I enjoy creating it and if other like the work I produce then that’s fantastic,” says Volker.
I wondered how Volker had started out using computers as his tool of choice. “When I lived in France, more than 15 years ago, a friend of mine gave me an old Macintosh computer with an early edition of Photoshop installed. I’d never heard of it and decided to have a play around. Those were my first attempts using this technique. I was fascinated by it. It was very much tailored to my way of thinking and working,” he explained. “It’s been developing ever since, especially since I’ve lived in Cornwall.”
“Before that I worked in a more conventional way, with brushes and all that. I tried out a little bit of combination. I’d start to make an image on the computer and transfer it to canvas. It is easier, you can try things out without wasting canvas,” says Volker. “These days I don’t mix the two forms, painting and computer work. Well not at the moment anyway. I may do so in the future.”
Pointing at one of his current works to illustrate the idea. “I could do print this out and do the red parts using paint. It would be an interesting contrast and it would introduce texture. It’d make it mixed media.”
Volker’s influences have come from his own past as much as the contemporary world: He showed me an album cover he’d designed more than a decade ago. Immediately his unmistakable style rang out as if it had been created the day we talked. It was definitely a Volker Stox.
Other influences from the past include his architectural studies and practice, he has worked with the like of architect Norman Foster, and his work designing sets for commercials and music videos. “I loved the work and it paid well enough to support me and buy my paints. The music video production of the time was very artistic and great fun. Very free, free flowing…I was very lucky.”
These days Volker’s art work is mainly of a more personal nature. “I see my work as free art. If I get an exhibition of course I love it, if people buy the work I love that too, but I don’t set out with that in mind,” says Volker. “Having just said that I’ve just done a commission. I now think of commissions as collaborations. This particular one came from my last exhibition. Someone spotted my work. They liked it but desired something larger.” Like the album sleeve shown to me earlier in the interview, they want it to be recognisable, they want a Volker Stox.
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