Many years ago I heard poet and critic Dana Gioia speak to a group of arts leaders. At the time he was head of the National Endowment for the Arts and found himself in the position of making a case for the value of the arts in our lives and in our educational system.
“Art completes our humanity,” I recall him saying. Now it's quite possible that I am misremembering the entire keynote address, but it made a huge impact on me so I'm giving him credit.
The point I recall most strongly was how much some kids need art to relate to the world. Math and science are all good, but, Gioia’s argument as I remember it, was that we are complicated beings, not just analysts. We have emotions, desires, and fears that can’t be explored or expressed through science and math alone.
We need art. Some of us need it more than others. For some of us, it's as necessary as the air we breathe. I talked about it on this post and podcast episode.
My guest for this episode of The Art Biz is Rich Simmons, a London-based artist who insists that art saved his life.
Rich is not an art therapist, but he is an an advocate for the therapy of an art practice. He knows from first-hand experience that art heals.
Rich has struggled with depression and was eventually diagnosed with Aspergers. The realization that making art could make him feel better was life changing, and he wanted other people to know about this. In 2008 he started Art Is The Cure to inspire people to turn to creativity in times of pain. He thinks of himself as a catalyst to help with the healing process, and relies on 3 words to guide him and others: inspiration, community, and movement.
Art has given his life purpose.
You'll discover that Rich has many balls up in the air. He makes murals, gives workshops, sells prints, has recently entered the NFT market, and is starting a podcast. And that is just scratching the surface of his ambitions.
- “I was thrown into the deep end.” Rich’s unusual entry into the art world. (2:51)
- Rich started on his artistic path at a very young age by trading art with his grandfather. (7:57)
- Discovering art as a form of creative therapy amidst personal turmoil. (11:49)
- The act of creative release has expanded Rich’s spectrum and allows him to make better art. (17:44)
- Art Is The Cure gave Rich the purpose he needed to move forward. (24:50)
- How to channel your negative energy in a way that affects change. (33:48)
- Finding inspiration, community, and movement, and what to do when art is the source of your stress. (36:50)
- Rich’s income sources and his approach to creating a continual stream of potential clients. (41:50)
Rich Simmons Quotes
- “I want to give back to art because art saved my life.”
- “I like to say yes to opportunities no matter what it is and try to figure out how to do it.”
- “I realized I had found my own version of art therapy, and I needed to help other people discover their own version of art therapy.”
- “An artist’s job is not only to be a storyteller but to evoke emotions.”
- “I couldn't be an inspiration for people if I wasn’t looking after myself.”
- “You can be the messenger about how powerful art can be.”
About My Guest
Rich Simmons is an Urban Pop artist who has exhibited all over the world. Simmons\' work explores the intersections of visual culture, spanning pop art, comic books, the Renaissance, contemporary fashion, sexuality, and beyond.
Simmons bold use of color, intricately detailed hand-cut stencils, sense of humor, and the thought-provoking narratives running through his work prove Rich is both an innovator and highly collectible artist.
Simmons is also the creator and founder of Art Is The Cure, a vInspired award-winning organization promoting art therapy, and has run workshops and talks around the world.
Follow Rich on Instagram: @iamrichsimmons