094: Nick Jensen/The Anxiety of Influence

Nick Jensen in his Homerton studio, London, July 2019. Photo: Tozer

“I’m just a kid trying to work it out.”

I welcomed the great Nick Jensen onto the show for episode 094.

Nick is a skateboarder and artist from London who has been a pivotal part of the UK scene for at least 15 years now. He occupies a really particular place in the UK skateboarding firmament – as a street skater of global renown and influence, and also as somebody with a unique approach to creativity and skateboarding.

Nick Jensen. Photo: Owen Tozer

I’ve been intrigued by Nick’s take on skateboarding for a few years, particularly his video parts or the work his does through Isle Skateboards. There’s always a considered aesthetic at play, and I was interested in how Nick transfers this vision between the different disciplines he’s dedicated his life to.

Nick at work. Photo: Tozer

So I headed over to his studio in Homerton, to sit down and discuss the whole thing. As regular listeners to the show will know, I’m pretty interested in that whole area of creativity works, where ideas come from, and how you can still that voice of self doubt in your head to give yourself permission to do the work you’re trying to do.

Photo: Tozer

So that’s what we chatted out. The result is a super involved conversation about the mechanics of creativity, and the challenges involved in trying to live a creatively fulfilling life. Really enjoyed meeting Nick and getting such an insight into his life, hope you enjoy this one.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Nick

Show Notes

  • 2 years in to his new studio “my other studio got flattened and turned into flats”.
  • His day-to-day routine: “I’m a morning person”.
  • Having a 2 year old son.
  • Convincing yourself first.
  • Pushing through unknown creative territory.
  • “It filters back down through our age of Instagram that we’re quite ‘resolved’ as human beings”
  • “Have a language that you use in painting that’s connected to you”.
  • An honest artist.
  • “It’s not a question of ‘don’t give up’, it’s ‘I want to be a painter no matter what’”.
  • Goals to be in the studio all the time.
  • His show at Union Gallery in February.
  • “I’m not in a rush, but I’m busy”.
  • Abstract routes to understand the figures.
  • The appeal of technical challenges.
  • Artist vs painter.
  • Looking back at the greatest painters from Matisse to Bacon.
  • Setting yourself parameters with creativity.
  • Having creative space.
  • Inspired to skate aged 9.
  • His insatiable quest for sponsorship when he started.
  • Not wanting to take his career to the US.
  • “Travelling is not something I’m bothered about, I’d rather be in the studio the whole time”.
  • Starting Isle with Paul Shier: “I should’ve been more daunted than I was”.
  • Needing a lot of money in the art world.
  • Becoming more confident in being relaxed.
  • Building relationships with artists.
  • Working with Paul Shier and Chris Jones.
  • Skating 3 days a week.
  • His project with Nike.
  • Meeting Jacob Harris at a bus after Reading Festival.
  • “I just want to keep the dream alive for as long as I can… so far I’m still clinging on”.
  • Not wanting a real job.
  • Enjoying the physical settings for skateboarding.
  • Uniqueness in British culture: from skate to music.
  • Resilience from rain.
  • The current artists and painters he follows.
  • “For me contemporary is about that individual who happens to be born now rather than then. They have a handling with painting in a way that’s as beautiful as the people before them. It’s not trying to make a quick comment on the past or a one-liner”.
  • Copy first to learn your own style: “you’re not born a purist”.
  • His upcoming exhibition with Jack Brindley.
  • “We don’t look at the wind in the sails of successful people a lot of the time, but there’s often people behind closed doors who were massively involved in their success”.
  • “It’s hard to find original territory today”.
  • Appropriation.
  • Nick’s breakthrough feeling: “I know what I’m looking for”.
  • Quotes about writer’s block.

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