‘ The Irish education system can make children feel like they are stupid’

Life Lessons: Kurb Junki, artist and film-maker, on trusting people, forever growing and using time wisely

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your life?  

Trusting people after being let down by others. Life is much more beautiful when you give people the benefit of the doubt, but at the same time you also have to choose when to have your guard up.

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

Keep changing and growing. It’s easy to end up in the same routine, feeling afraid to leave a secure job or try new things at a later stage in life. If you want to do something, don’t waste your life fantasising about it, just do it and don’t worry about what other people think.

And the worst? 

Stop painting graffiti. I had a few tutors in art college who told me I would grow out of painting graffiti, but it’s what led me to doing a degree in fine art. Graffiti shaped me as an artist, a person and it has led me to so many amazing people and opportunities.

Is there a moment that changed your life? 

When I realised I had potential as an artist. I always hated school and got terrible grades because I didn’t want to learn about economics or algebra. The Irish education system doesn’t promote creativity, in my opinion. It can make children feel like they are stupid. Performing well in college gave me confidence in making art and being involved in events.

Who do you admire most? 

I can’t choose one; Spike Jones, Keith Haring, James Gandolfini, David Choe, Rob McElhenney, Ed Templeton and so many more artists, writers, skateboarders, actors and film-makers. I admire anybody truly passionate about creativity and working hard to provide the world with new things to interact with.

What has had the biggest influence on your career? 

Realising that I can do whatever I want. When I studied fine art, I felt bound to separate humour, graffiti, skateboarding and contemporary art. It took me a while to work out how to link all of my passions into one project and feel comfortable about doing it. I think the contemporary art world is about to radically change in the next decade, and I feel like it will become much more accessible to all kinds of people.

What do you do to help your personal development? 

I use new types of technology and materials to expand my art work. I practise carpentry, graphic design, video editing, animation, metal work, writing music, getting involved in performances and lots of other things. Sometimes learning a new drum beat can inspire you to draw or think in a different way. Basically there are always crossovers between my hobbies or practices that benefit my art work.

What is your biggest flaw? 

Not following through with ideas for videos or new pieces. I have a lot of projects on the back burner that I wish I had published by now. If you have an idea, just do it and learn from it. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, the process will inspire you to do something better in the long run.

And your worst habit? 

Wasting time. It can be easy to slip into re-watching an entire TV series or going out drinking too much. I love film as it is an amazing way to escape reality and become connected to a new world. I also consider it research as a filmmaker, but at the end of the day we are only on this earth for a certain amount of time. I’d like to try to use every hour I have wisely, either by creating something new or making new connections.

What are you most proud of? 

Choosing to work part time and take more time to focus on my own passion projects, my career as an artist and film-maker. It is a bit scary taking the leap but it makes me truly happy in life. To kick off this lifestyle change I recently curated the exhibition Boon at Studio 39. I will be involved in the space and I think it is the beginning of something special.

What is your motto for life? 

I think having a life motto is kind of stupid. My perception of life could completely change in a year’s time and I’m happy to live like that. If you try and stick to one way of thinking, you run the risk of barricading yourself into one path that might not necessarily be the best route for you to take in life.

Kurb Junki is an artist and film-maker.

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