We’ve got some amazing talent in the building at Castleton Mill. Of course we’d say that! But it’s so true. From our full-time residents, to the flexi-members who drop in now and again, to our great mix of coworkers — we want to celebrate them all, every day, for always.
Our Resident Spotlight series is a space where we can shine a light on the people that make Castleton Mill a great place to be.
This time around, we interviewed Lloyd Coenen — a mixed-media artist and studio-holder here at the Mill — about the impact of the online world, the importance of space and his career journey so far.
I’m still working that out myself! I’m now a mixed-media artist; but my career began back when I was seventeen in corporate roles. After thirteen years I broke free of that because it didn’t feel like it was for me anymore; I was becoming depressed and I needed to get out of it.
I started creating things in my early teens, but I never pursued it just because of criticism and the idea that you can’t make a living off it. I picked up a pen again around 2015, and I just enjoyed it. I wanted to make it work. Prior to that I’d done business courses and I thought: I have all these skills now to market and create a business. Why don’t I try and take this creative thing that I enjoy doing and make it into a business?
So that’s what I do now; I have a business out of creating artwork and selling it, making a living that way. I’m still working out my message and my meaning — that’s a process in itself. For me my art has always been an escape out of a life that didn’t fulfil me.
I’m always changing up my style. I’ve tried different media; I create new things every week just to test myself and see what I can achieve. I take inspiration from other creatives and artists online too.
Obviously the past year has been crazy, with galleries not being open. Some artists think that the only way forward in their career is to get gallery representation and do shows, or do art stalls — stuff like that. But the reality is you have this whole online world. There’s this preconceived notion that to be an artist means you have to have your work physically in spaces. What I’ve done in my career is to build a community of people who support me online.
In my career, I’ve only ever done one show; everything else has just been online. My challenge has been bringing everything together and building the audience. There is still criticism thrown around if you’re doing something a bit different outside of the route of getting gallery representation. I’ve had quite a lot of feedback from other artists — some I admire as well — that what I’m doing isn’t right.
That I should be focusing more on my message and meaning, instead of fusing my skills in marketing and creativity. That can be a bit of wall when it comes to sharing with others in the artistic community.
So this comes back to defining my style. Recently I’ve decided Im not going to stick to a singular style for the foreseeable future — I’m going to keep experimenting. It’s an amazing freedom that I’ve got — and having that space to be free in the Mill is important. I don’t have space at home to throw paint around — not that that’s what I do in the Mill exactly. But it’s important to have a space that you can call work where you can go and switch off from home stuff.
And of course, just being around other people. So me and Ben Cole who is on the same floor as me, we’re really close; we talk every day that we’re in. If it wasn’t for Ben being around, this year would have been a much bigger struggle for me. It’s just great to have such a nice space to come into to be creative, because everyone is creative here in some way.
There’s also the connections you make professionally — the way you can help each other out. I’ve sold art to people in the Mill before; it’s just a great support as a community.