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Outside the Collage

Text by John Lampard

As an artist, David Capra knows all about rejection. But he also knows how pointless, and non-productive, dwelling on it is. Now he allows himself just ten minutes to feel bad about a knock back before moving onto something else.

It is a philosophy that works most of the time, according to David.

“I allow myself only ten minutes to feel disappointed when things don’t go to plan, or I don’t get accepted into something I applied for. This doesn’t always work; sometimes the feeling of giving up lingers for days, sometimes weeks, but I just try to work passed that.”

Artwork by David Capra

While David has loved producing art all his life, and feels he did his best work while growing up.

“This is also when I was the most confident as an artist, before I learnt how to draw properly and stay within the lines,” he says.

Learning to “draw properly” meant studying at the College Of Fine Arts, or COFA, and was a course that David, along with many of the alumni of Australia’s most distinguished art school, found challenging.

“It was demanding and very consuming. But I think that was only because making art is that way. My honours year was a good one, things started to come together, and we had to place our work in context when writing our paper,” he says.

Artwork by David Capra

And it was while at COFA that David first began to experiment with collage work, which has gone on to become to his signature style.

“I chose to illustrate Biblical text because I wanted to work with something that I could really explore, and make something like faith tangible.”

While deriving influences from 70’s illustrators such as Saul Steinberg, and the works of Outsider Artists like the Reverend Howard Finster, David says the stories that his grandmother told him as child also played a big part in drawing him to collage, scrapbook like, imagery.

Artwork by David Capra

“I spent a lot of time with my grandma. I grew up with her stories about how she survived a labor camp after she was taken from her home in the Ukraine when she was quite young. How she saw Hitler speak in Germany, and many stories like that,” he says.

“When listening to these stories it created a space for my mind to wonder and made me really use my imagination, which is a big part of my work. Because my grandmother didn't have much of a childhood, she was drawn to childlike things, like toys and stickers, and even drew like a child.”

David, who was born in Australia to an Italian and Ukrainian heritage, has had his work recognised both at home, and around the world. He was among just 25 artists to be showcased in the Art & Australia Magazine and NOISE 25/25 project, and recently travelled to Torino, in Italy, to receive an award from the Region of Piedmont.

Artwork by David Capra

David is currently travelling around Europe hoping to see as much art as possible, while also producing a little when he can.

It is his goal to one day have a studio of his own, and while he knows that means a lot of work, and possibly a few more knock backs, David says this should not deter aspiring artists.

“Take your time to find your niche in the art world, and the medium, or mediums, you work best in. And don’t take yourself too seriously!”