Running three successful galleries for many years has afforded me an insight into the creative process of artists, photographers and musicians. When we put on an exhibition, we don't just display an artist's most famous or most expensive works, but try to give the visitor an insight into their creative process and development as an artist.
For example, our exhibition 'Breaking Stones 1963-1965: A Band on the Brink of Superstardom' showcases rarely seen, early photographs of the Rolling Stones taken by a young Terry O'Neill. His photographs are now recognised worldwide, but these early images give a unique insight into how his creative style has developed over the years, and how he has established himself as a world-renowned photographer.
The same can be said of the subject, as well as the artist. Earlier this year we showed a commemorative display of David Bowie portraits taken by various photographers. Bowie was famously a creative genius, and these photos showed how his creativity extended into his own image and how he developed that throughout his life, creating a symbiosis between his music and persona that was to become the crux of his success.
Displaying famous pictures of famous people (by famous photographers) is all very well and good, but my aim is to exhibit the hard work and creativity that goes into making these photographs, and reveal the creative geniuses behind them.
On the subject of creative geniuses, I was fortunate enough to come across the artist Graham Humphreys, who has been creating art for horror films for years, including posters for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Evil Dead series. Graham is a fantastically talented illustrator, and our meeting led to an exhibition of his original drawings at Proud Camden and a limited-edition collectors book celebrating his best work.
In an era where multiple creative programs and apps mean anyone with a basic knowledge of computers can be an artist, it is extremely refreshing to see someone with genuine talent staying true to a time-honoured medium, and continuing to produce successful work to this day.
Having said that, I do believe that certain technological advances have helped the creative process for the better. It would be hypocritical of me to malign modern technology when this is the very thing that has helped the medium of photography to develop and now be considered a fine-art form. The photos we can display are a testament to the effect that technology has had on the creative industry, allowing artists to move beyond paint and canvas, and creating a modern art medium that truly resonates with the viewer, while simultaneously remaining timeless and modern.
Evolution of an artist
I recently bought an incredible piece by the urban artist Pure Evil. His work is a perfect example of both an artist's creative development and how modern advances can foster this. Beginning his career as a street artist, Pure Evil (otherwise known as Charles Uzzell-Edwards) became famous for his pop-art style 'Nightmare' series of celebrity portraits. Taking his art one step further, he decided to render one of these portraits in stained glass, and display it in a stainless steel lightbox, creating an incredibly modern vision of portraiture while evolving as an artist.
I would strongly urge readers to research Pure Evil's street art (or even look out for it around London), and then come to see his stained-glass piece at Proud Chelsea for themselves, as it is a wonderful testament to how something as simple as a scrawled graffiti tag can be the catalyst for a successful career as an artist.
I believe that creativity isn't limited to fine art, and that you don't have to be an artist to be considered 'creative'.
Although the word is thrown about a lot by marketing companies and recruitment agencies nowadays, what I take it to mean is that creativity ultimately comes from the individual, to be interpreted and developed in their own way, however that may be.