Portrait Of The Artist: Fred Coppin

Off the back of his recent show, we interviewed artist Fred Coppin – who has previously exhibited at Paul Smith – about his work, rituals and art.

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Finding the beauty in the everyday is one of the great talents of artists ­– but, for some, like Fred Coppin, it comes easier than others. His captivating pieces are the stuff of mundane moments made sublime: a greenhouse in the evening, a ladder, a horse in a field are just a few of his chosen subjects. Capturing them with an urgency and immediacy, Fred uses an expressive style combining a heightened colour palette with a playful approach to form. Off the back of his latest show, we spoke to the artist about his favourite medium, how creating art is sometimes an emotional rollercoaster and why he wants to sprinkle a little optimism in the world.

How would you describe your work?

I like to imagine my paintings as saturated versions of reality. There’s most often a figurative backbone derived from real sources but then dissected, reassembled and exaggerated into a more hopeful state. I like to intertwine a couple of different images or ideas into the same painting, so you feel suspended between places in a sort of dreamy limbo with any luck.


What do you hope people take away from your art? What are you trying to say?

I guess my hope is that I can add a little extra sprinkle of optimism to the world and help encourage people to marvel at the finer details of this mad planet we somehow occupy. I think there’s something meditative and restorative in being able to zoom in like that.

How does being an artist affect your outlook on life?

That’s a great question. As an artist, you spend a lot of time building up layers to develop a final picture, so I think it probably makes you quite interested in the deeper layers of things in life more generally. You also tend to spend a lot of time with your own thoughts which I think can either make you quite self-reliant and headstrong or desperate for social interaction and approval – I would say I’m firmly the latter!

How do you feel while you’re working? What’s going through your mind?

I think I’m probably subject to the same emotional rollercoaster that most artists go through in the process of completing an artwork. Things usually kick off with extreme excitement and ambition, dip through an awkward mid stage of concern, frustration and self-doubt before hopefully re-emerging with a sense of relief when things come together.


Do you have a particular routine or any “rituals” when you’re working?

I don’t think I have any particularly bizarre rituals sadly… perhaps I should develop some. I work in a studio on my own so one of the most important things for me is to have a well-considered agenda of audio accompaniment with music, podcasts, radio, audio books. The studio speaker is most likely to be playing a wide range of new releases – a bit like my appetite to create new artworks, I get a buzz from new sounds and new artists.

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Published: 30.03.23

Words: Molly Isabella Smith