lnder #195: dave buonaguidi

Here’s a maths problem for you: When a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a picture worth if it’s got words on it? Well perhaps our LDNER this week, Dave Buonaguidi will have the answer, as he gave up his job in 2014 and and set himself a challenge, to make it as an artist within a year. We talk to him about the his passion for screen printing and having his work picked up by the national press and London’s creative scene…

Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?

I live with my wife and two kids in De Beauvoir which is the poncey part of Dalston. I’ve lived there for about 15 years. I am the spawn of immigrants and I love the area because it is very diverse, and with that diversity comes a fantastic creative, entrepreneurial energy. Whatever time of day or night, whatever day of the week there seem to be thousands of creative people all on the make and I love that.

We hear that in your spare time you like to screen print?

I have always worked in advertising, and in 2014 I resigned from the company I founded and was put on gardening leave for a year. I wanted to keep busy during that time, so the day after I left, I did the one-day print course at Printclub, and not wanting to sound too dramatic but my life changed. I had printed when I went to art college but when I finished the course I was massively inspired because I had discovered an outlet and an ability to produce some of the hundreds of ideas I was having. It is very important for creative people to constantly be making, and ‘clearing their mental chests’. I then undertook the impossible mission to try and make a career as an artist in just a year. The thing I love about printing is the analogue nature of the process. You get dirty, wet and covered in shit. Your arms hurt, you get blisters all over your fingers. It’s also a mistake-riddled process, stuff happens along the way and I think it all adds to the ‘life’ in the print.


Where do you go to take inspiration for screen prints?

There is inspiration everywhere, which can be a problem, i.e. it becomes very easy to suddenly find yourself being very derivative. I love going to old markets and car-boot fairs and finding stuff that is being discarded and then being inspired to turn that into something that people might want. I suppose it’s a form of up-cycling. There is a lot of stuff in the world right now, all I’m doing is turning shit into something a bit nicer. I work in advertising, creating messages for all sorts of clients, so I do like using words and like to find inspiring, relevant, and cultural phrases to make my stuff popular. The selling is also very important to me. Artists are very lucky that they can make a career and a living from something that they love doing, but often they are very fragile when it comes to selling work and making money. I am very commercial and part of the process I go through in the creation of the work is to make sure it is popular and saleable.

How does it feel to have your print “MAKE TEA NOT WAR” hanging in the Trento Museum of Modern Art?

It feels nice. It was just a bit of fun to be honest, and it got picked up by the papers the day after the Anti War march in 2003. We felt that the war was a stupid idea, and we knew that the march would be full of lots of angry people carrying very worthy banners: Their Blood on Your Hands. Don’t attack Iraq. etc. so we thought we would do something stupid. Like I said, it was a complete fluke, but what it taught me was how do you tap into something deeper than just a ‘nice’ picture. Being stupid, or having a sense of humour when not expected can cut through.

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Describe your perfect day in London…

I’m very lucky, I have a great job, a lovely family and a fantastically rewarding hobby. To be honest it doesn’t really get much better than that. But I only recently discovered that I am dreadfully OCD, (I thought everyone was like that!) so my perfect day would require everything to go 100% right. My perfect day in London: It’s sunny, dry and HOT. I wake up early and as I walk down the stairs both my children are dressed, ready for school, and eating breakfast. They smile at me lovingly. I kiss my lovely wife goodbye and stroll down to Arthur’s Cafe on Kingsland Road for a delicious breakfast. I love the buzz and noisy energy in Arthur’s, loads of workers getting ready for the hard day ahead.

My neighbours would all stand out in the street and wave and applaud me as I ride my horribly antisocial motorcycle up to the Print Club, braaaping at every available opportunity. A quick hour’s printing to complete THAT thing that I needed to finish, before smashing the dirty bike up to Kings Cross. Work would be sublime, every single bit of work I am doing would be resolved beautifully. A very quick lunch at Dishoom in Kings Cross. The afternoon would be spent coming up with a skip load of brilliant ideas, for clients and myself.

The evening would be down at Printclub printing up the very best of those ideas, with a short break in between to enjoy a lovely chicken in a box with extra chilli from Mangal on Arcola street. When I return exhausted but happy, I have a lovely hot bath waiting for me. And watch a film that my kids have never seen before. The chances of just two of the above happening in the same day. 1,000,000 –1.

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