THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS: TACITA DEAN

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Artist Tacita Dean is a former Turner prize nominee. She works mainly with film, photography and drawing. Her latest commission can be viewed at the `As Dark is Light' exhibition at the Newlyn Art gallery, Penzance.

Success has to do with what you have achieved in your own terms. It's not about prizes - they don't necessarily go to the right people. And earning lots of money certainly hasn't happened to me. To be honest I find it hard to gauge how successful I am. I do get a lot of extraordinary letters from people who have been inspired by my work. Some even send me poems. But I don't really feel I am a success yet.

One of my goals is to make a large-scale work like a feature film. I spent some time at the Sundance Festival surrounded by cinema people and I was infected by their enthusiasm. I love the idea of playing with something that is beyond your field.

I started painting at a very early age and had romantic visions of having my own studio in a Parisian attic. It didn't happen but I did do a year's foundation course at Falmouth and I then went to the Slade School of Art. But despite training in a classical environment I was never able to create a single image. If I had a blank canvas I'd divide it into sections and create a storyboard effect. My first short animated films were an obvious progression from there.

My career certainly hasn't been plain sailing, as painting departments tend to be threatened by alternative media. When I was accepted to Slade they made me promise that I would never do any more films. To them I was a very unsuccessful and difficult student. But I think having to triumph in the face of adversity has helped me to be successful.

My parents were fine about my foundation course at Falmouth, but after that they wanted me to study English. I've had to work hard to prove myself to them. If you are in a climate of non-support it drives you to work harder and gives you the perseverance you need to succeed. I have had to put in the hours, but that is what I expected being an artist was like. I've never considered any alternatives and I wouldn't want things any other way.

Recently everything I have done has been commissioned or has been made for a show. I haven't created anything for its own sake. Sometimes I miss that - exploring a new idea. You may not find what you are looking for, but the journey itself becomes the piece.

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