“I started using my work as a way to talk about mental health as I have unfortunately had my troubles with it throughout my life”
Name: Haydn Gardner
Art materials: Ink, Perspex, Acrylic, Fine Liners.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Haydn Gardner and I make mess. I’m a 23 year old artist from the UK and I create monsters based on my relationship with mental health. I have been a huge fan of art since I was young and have been fascinated with video games and music throughout my life. I was recently diagnosed with having ASD which means I am part of the autistic spectrum. This changes how I see the world which is probably why my interests and work are so out of the ordinary.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration is everywhere, as much as that sounds cheesy. From a young age I have been hooked on Pokemon and have always been drawn to the designs and the colours. As a kid, I would draw them in a small sketch book and as I grew up I started taking inspirations from other artists that created monsters and used colour. Everyday objects can look like faces and even that can make me design something in my mind. I often hold onto an idea and apply it to one of the appropriate shapes as time passes. I also name my monsters names of people I have known in my life. They don’t actually apply to them directly but those peoples names become part of the world around me and are part of the process.
Tell us about your creative process.
I use a process that has been referred to as organic. I don’t work well when planning and designing something before creating a final piece. My process developed during University and became less structured but allowed the freedom to create work that would never look too similar to another piece. I initially start off with a piece of perspex then pick two colours of ink and create a shape/form. This then partially dries before I add another 2-3 colours to build up different tones.
Once the ink has dried I then create a monster from it using fine liners to build the form into a body. I usually gain an idea of what I want to make when the form has dried as I see faces in the colours and can make something from those abstract areas. This can be a long process and I usually have multiple paintings being worked on at the same time.
What is the story behind your artwork, if any?
My work started out as being colourful stories during University but it lacked direction. I started using my work as a way to talk about mental health as I have unfortunately had my troubles with it throughout my life. I knew that my condition only improved when I talked about it and my work became a vessel to discuss the theme. Each painting carries a narrative or feelings I was experiencing during that time or was revisiting old feelings. My work developed over time and became about mental health affecting everybody and not being completely personal. Through this development I have successfully communicated about my autism to other people who have it through paintings. They say they can see what I am experiencing through my work and they relate to it. It’s that feedback that makes me realize that its worth the hours I put into creating.
This what i want to do with my life and mental health has always been a very important part of it. My work isn’t just helping me but it has now begun to help others.