Join us for a chat with Neill Wright, a celebrated artist from Johannesburg known for his colourful and impactful art across paintings, prints, and sculptures. Wright shares tales of his journey with The Deckle Edge art store, fond memories from Michaelis art school, and the special bonds formed through art. With a love for colour and a diverse artistic touch, he gives us a peek into his world, offering pearls of wisdom for aspiring artists along the way. Dive into Wright’s artistic universe, where dedication and creativity meet.

Deckle Edge Interview Neill Wright Michael Hall
Neill Wright’s artworks – Photo by Michael Hall

Q1You’ve been shopping online from The Deckle Edge for years now, how has your experience been with our online platform and delivery service? Any notable experiences or advantages? 

A1. The wide range of products and availability. I find the whole experience very easy and convenient. On larger orders I often get free samples of other products which has led to me to purchasing different brands of paint alongside my usual choice. 

Q2. You’ve mentioned fond memories of shopping from The Deckle Edge during your time at Michaelis art school. Could you share a specific experience or aspect of our store that has left a lasting impression on you? 

A2. I think it’s always just been the huge selection.

Q3. The staff at The Deckle Edge have mentioned how much they admire your artwork and describe you as the friendliest customer ever. Can you tell us about a memorable interaction you’ve had with the Deckle team or any insights into why they appreciate you and your work so much? 

A3. With the majority of my online orders, I deal with Marie and on the odd occassion, when something specific is out of stock, she always calls to offer me a variety of other options which I really appreciate. I have also called for technical advice about certain products and the staff are always very helpful and knowledgeable.

Deckle Edge Interview Neill Wright Michael Hall
Neill Wright – Photo by Michael Hall
Neill Wright – Photo by Michael Hall

Q4. Your portfolio spans paintings, prints, and sculptures, each offering a unique perspective on social commentary. Can you tell us about a specific painting of yours that holds significant meaning or symbolism, and what inspired its creation? 

A4. With my latest work, I want to provide the viewer with a sense of joy and escape, adding beauty and providing some respite from the chaos so there isn’t any specific individual work that holds more significance for me but rather a body of work as a whole. I do obviously have my favourites but it’s hard to say exactly why. Some of my works just speak to me more than others. 

Q5. Your prints often carry a strong visual narrative. Could you share a bit about your process of printmaking and how it allows you to convey your message in a different way compared to your paintings? 

A5. My earlier work was a lot more popart influenced so the graphic nature of it suited screen printing. My most recent prints are giclee prints which I hand finish using hand cut stencils and palette knife. 

Q6. Sculpture adds another dimension to your artistic repertoire. What challenges and rewards do you encounter when translating your ideas into three-dimensional form? Is there a particular sculpture that challenged you in unexpected ways? 

A6. Sculpture is always a challenge so it’s a really rewarding feeling when you complete one and are happy with the outcome. I have recently been working on a series of large wooden, carved flowers. I finished my first two at the end of last year for an exhibition I had in Cape Town with Everard Read. They provided all sorts of challenges along the way. It was the first time that I decided to work from smaller clay maquettes as opposed to working directly from drawings. The maquettes helped a lot as I was working from a smaller 3D version rather than from a 2D drawing.

Q7. In your paintings, you often use bold colors and striking imagery to provoke thought and discussion. How do you approach color selection and composition to enhance the impact of your message? 

A7. Colour selection generally happens organically. Once I have a preliminary sketch I start thinking about the mood I want to convey with the colours and then start the process of colour selection. I like the fauvist approach to colour which emphasises boldness over realism. 

Q8. With your multidisciplinary approach to art, which materials do you find yourself gravitating towards the most when shopping for supplies? And what is it about those particular materials that resonate with your artistic vision?

A8. Generally acrylic paint. Colour is one of the main components of my work so it’s essential for me to find good quality paint that can deliver on colour intensity. 

Q9. Many of your pieces are large-scale. Could you share some tips or techniques you’ve found most helpful when working on such expansive canvases or installations? 

A9. By the time I start working on the canvas, I have a very good idea of how the finished work will look. I think this makes the idea of working large less daunting. 

Q10. Creating large-scale art can be financially daunting. Could you offer some insights or cost-saving tips for emerging artists who aspire to work on a grand scale without breaking the bank?

A10. This is a tricky one as big work will always be more expensive. I would suggest the material and way you work could make things more cost effective. Paper and inks vs canvas and paint.

Q11. Reflecting on your journey as an artist, what advice would you give to emerging artists aspiring to make a mark in the industry, especially those navigating the complexities of South Africa? 

A11. Work hard, put yourself out there and be open to criticism. I would also look at as much art as possible. I think you can get so much inspiration from visiting exhibitions as well as looking and reading about work online.

Deckle Edge Interview Neill Wright Michael Hall

Q12. How has your background and education at Michaelis School of Fine Art influenced your artistic style and approach to creating?

A12. I learnt the importance of always showing up and working as well as putting yourself out there regardless of the insecurities you might have about your work. From a technical and art historical perspective, it gave me the ideal framework to pursue a professional career in art.

 Q13. When creating a new piece, do you typically start with a clear concept in mind, or do you allow the process to unfold organically? Can you walk us through your creative process from idea to execution for one of your recent artworks? 

A13. I generally have a rough idea in mind. I then start with a relatively basic sketch which I take into photoshop. The foundational process of the work is largely digital and controlled but once I move onto the canvas, there is a bit more freedom and spontaneity. I use a combination of techniques from hand cut stencilling and airbrush to rough brush work and palette knife. 

 Q14. Finally, what upcoming projects or exhibitions can your audience look forward to? Are there any new themes or techniques you’re excited to explore in your future work? 

A14. My next exhibition is in May this year in the US and a group show in London in June but I am always creating new works for my galleries here in SA. I’m currently exploring hand painted paper collage but I think it’s still going to be some time before these new works make an appearance in one of my exhibitions. 

Q15. Is there anything else that you would like to share that might be helpful or interesting to other artists or aspiring artists?

A15. I think the most important thing for me is consistency. Even on days when I don’t feel particularly inspired, I’m always in the studio working. It’s during the frustrating times that you have little breakthroughs that lead to new ideas and works. 

Deckle Edge Interview Neill Wright Photo Michael Hall
Neill Wright – Photo by Michael Hall

Wrapping up, Neill Wright truly adds a burst of colour to Jozi’s art world. If you’re inspired to start your own colorful journey, we’ve got all the art supplies you need online and in-store, and yes, we courier right to Jozi!

Ready to dive deeper into Neill’s vibrant universe?

Explore his work on the Everard Read Gallery website or connect on Instagram. Let’s get creative, Jozi!

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