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Updated: Jun 1, 2023

Simon Procter Artist Talk

“Simon Procter was born in Lancashire, Northern England. He was raised in Royston a small mining village in South Yorkshire. He studied Fine Art for many years specialising in Painting and Sculpture. He is an influential photographer producing advertising for a wide range of high-level clients including: Chanel, Dior, Nike, Reebok, Speedo, Adidas, Nokia, Hastens, Marriott, Mont Blanc, Falke. Since his debut exhibition in Miami Basel in 2008 Simon Procter has become one of the most collectable photographers of his generation. His artwork is held in prestigious collections and museums worldwide.” (Procter, 2019)

During his talk, Simon Procter highlighted the importance to him of feeling intense and passionate about his work, he demonstrated a deep belief in the fact that his art was the most important thing in his life and that he is lucky enough to make money from the type of art he has ‘accidentally’ become known for - namely fashion photography.

This mix of an artist perspective, his art historical background and using the tools of photography to create work that are like paintings makes his work feel vibrant and unique. There is an allegorical theme that runs through his work but also an almost fairy-tale feel to much of his photography. The language of his art that I respond to are the seascapes, the winged people, angels, religious scenes and portraiture, often multiple characters with a vast, almost theatrical, backdrop. He highlighted the scale and intensity of the photoshoots that he headed which I found interesting, I was reminded of the inspiring and mythological work of Alexander McQueen. Where worlds of art and fashion collide, and the work can be produced with vast amounts of manpower and wealth. Also, the artist Cindy Sherman created work for fashion magazines with similar themes. It is another world. A world that felt inaccessible full of impossible people in fantastical worlds. Appealing. Yes. It is seductive and it is meant to be because it is advertising a thing, this is not a criticism, only an observation.

The painterly quality of his work and the depth he creates adds to the power of the images. He captures the theatre of it all, he captures the moment and the spectacle. His media is photography and photo manipulation, but it could just as easily be paint and he says this himself, it is simply another tool used to create art, no better or worse than a painting, only different. Whether it is a photograph, or a painting is not important, and, in a way, it is a throwaway question because it is the image that is important.

Procter spoke of this professional way of thinking, how he makes his living, but he said that as students we should rage and create with intensity and forget about that aspect until later, which I enjoyed. Creative intensity is what I strive for and finding that freedom to rage is what art is about. What else is there?

Images and quote from the artists website: available online [accessed 22nd Nov 2021]

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