INTUNE with Joel Sydenham
“INTUNE with” is a new series, where we get the opportunity to ask an inspiring individual an array of questions. We are able to unpack what spurs them on, helps them find focus and where they source their inspiration.
Joel is a visual artist and poet, with a passion for people and human development. Joel creates work heavily influenced by cultural experiences, as well as his belief in an underlying unity between all things in existence.
What’s your favourite thing about being an artist?
The freedom it gives me, and the opportunity to connect with people on an intimate level. People generally won’t ask me to create work if it didn’t mean a lot to them – so I’m proud of the fact that everything I do means a lot to someone somewhere.
What topics do you address within your work?
Existentialism, spirituality, nature, social justice, the human experience, afrocentrisim, science etc. generally I would say I paint concepts and energy, art is my attempt to understand and connect to the world through expression.
Do you find one creative outlet influences the other or are they very much parallel to each other?
Yes to both, some times poetry makes me want to paint, sometimes painting makes me want to write, sometimes I write about what I’m painting. Like I said earlier, I paint concepts and energy (or feelings) so the same concept is often expressed through two different form of expression.
What’s your favourite medium to work in when creating your visual art?
My favourite mediums are: acrylic paint, ink, spray paint, pencil (In that order)
Favourite work you’ve produced and why?
Everything I’ve produced is a part of me so i love all my paintings to be honest. But my most popular pieces are a painting and poem called “Your Light” that I created back in 2018.
Is there anything you struggle with being an artist?
My struggle is more from being human to be honest, being young and mixed race. I find I’m very often underestimated by my peers. I’m often seen as or used as a diversity token, and ignorant people very often want to put a cap on my potential solely based on my appearance.
How to you find inspiration?
Inspiration finds me, I don’t look for it. when something resonates as truth. When something moves me or excites me, I know I’ll eventually develop that concept or feeling into one form of art or the other.
Who did you look up to creatively when you were growing up, and why?
My grandmother was also an artist, and even though I never met her I felt connected to her via her work. My mother always spoke in parables and analogies which heavily influenced my poetry, my father loves to sketch and paint. I have an older brother that’s an incredible Dj, and a sister that’s an unbelievable pastry chef, they’ve all influenced me in different ways. Growing up in Nigeria the influence of fela kuits music and what it represented has also been massive for me.
In terms of visual art, Keith Herring, Jean Michelle Basquiat and Pablo Picasso have all inspired me to want to become and artist in different ways.
How do you find you focus?
For me, focus is clarity. Once I’m clear about what I want to do the focus is automatic.
What’s your favourite flavour of INTUNE?
The Ginger+ one is a whole vibe!!