TDF Open House 2017

'Leisure' by Stephen Baker

Our enthusiasm for the bold, precise and meticulously rendered paintings of Melbourne artist Stephen Baker is well documented around here!

Today, we chat with Stephen about the major body of work he has created for The Design Files Open House, which runs November 23rd – 26th (agh!). This new series of 10 new paintings entitled ‘Leisure’ has been four months in the making, and explores themes of aspiration and escapism.

Lucy Feagins

Artwork by Stephen Baker, created exclusively for The Design Files Open House 2017. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

The Collingwood-based artist sketches in his studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Stephen’s artworks for TDFOH. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Stephen is noticing more figurative forms and tighter colour palettes emerge in his works of late. ‘The themes are also shifting a little from being less solitary and contemplative, to being more aspirational’ he explains. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

After devising compositions by sketching, the artist and former graphic designer refines his colour selection digitally, as a guide before beginning to paint. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Studio details. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Stephen will also be speaking at TDFOH as part of our TDF Talks sessions. Don’t miss our chat on balancing commercial work with fine art practice. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Lucy Feagins
13th of November 2017

A self taught studio artist with a background in design, Melbourne’s Stephen Baker is an ambitious and focussed creative. He’s also impressively prolific – this year alone has seen him complete large scale murals across the country, as well as various private commissions.

Earlier this year, we invited Stephen to create a major body of work for The Design Files Open House – a collection of ten original paintings he has entitled ‘Leisure’.  Featuring predominantly female figures within highly considered environments, this body of work hints at themes of aspiration and escapism.

Recognisable for their striking geometric shapes and meticulous clean lines, Stephen’s impossibly precise paintings have gathered an immense following in recent years. We recently caught up with the artist in his Collingwood studio.

Describe your aesthetic in three words?

Emotive, bold, considered.

What have you been up to over the past twelve months?

I’ve worked on some interesting projects, including a few larger scale mural works. I created a large vinyl wall piece for the Claremont Quarter shopping precinct in Perth, as well as mural for the pool area at Aloft Hotel, also in Perth, which features a fun animation overlay at night.

Most recently I had the pleasure of completing a mural in Camberwell, with a design focused on stall trading at the Sunday markets. Other than this there have been quite a few commissioned pieces thrown in, cover art and design for The Smith Street Band, and prep work for a show next March at The Meat Markets in North Melbourne.

Can you tell us about the paintings that you’ve created for Open House?

This collection of works has been created specifically for this event. Thematically, I wanted to  mirror some of the ideas presented at the event, creating works that reflect a stylised, considered environment. This body of work has taken up most of my time over the past 4 months, I feel everything else has been put on hold, which isn’t a bad thing.

Was there a particular moment or story that inspired this body of work?

Over recent years I’ve been interested in how a space or environment can be shaped to change the way one feels emotionally. I’ve for the most part always painted works that are of an ‘escapist’ nature, depictions of a ‘better life’, you could say, with a slight hint of irony.

What are you most looking forward to about releasing this body of work into the world?

I’m excited to see these works within the space to be honest, I think that’ll be the big thing for me. It’s nothing like any other showing before, so there’s something new and fresh about this I feel.

You’re also part of our TDF Talks series at the event. You’ll be talking with me about balancing commercial work with fine art practice.  What do you think is one key to succeeding at this balancing act?

I’ve always found that keeping a clear separation between the two is what works best. At this stage in my career I’m lucky enough to be a bit selective, and only take on projects dedicated to my art practice. But it has taken quite a few years before I felt I could do this.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about Stephen Baker the artist?

My first design job out of university was in the Adult Industry.

What are you looking forward to?

For the next few months I’ll be concentrating on a show I’m developing for mid March at The Meat Markets in North Melbourne. I’m hoping to expand on my repertoire by adding some sculptural works. It’s quite a large space so it’s going to be exciting putting something together on a big scale.

Catch ‘Leisure’ by Stephen Baker at The Design Files Open House in Melbourne from November 23rd – 26th!

Stephen will also be speaking as part of our TDF Talks conversation series on Friday Nov 24th – BUY TICKETS HERE. 100% of ticket sale proceeds go to our friends at Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.