The Image Exchange is a collaboration between painter/printmaker Mike Walker and graphic designer Steve Rodgers. The primary objective of the project is to produce a body of work in which both artists are involved in every piece as well as the developmental progress of the work as a whole. Neither artist leads in this process and from the beginning both have worked as freely as possible and been willing to renounce their usual habits and techniques in order to respond to each other’s ideas and interventions. The Image Exchange is as much about this reciprocal flow of ideas as it is about the physical artefacts it produces.
It is also about the fluid boundaries that exist between graphic design and fine art. There has always been an interchange between these areas and, as recent surveys of abstract painting have shown, a significant proportion of abstract painting being made today owes more than a passing debt to graphic art produced for the branding and advertising of products. Appropriation works both ways, of course, and the language of advertising, as John Berger pointed out decades ago, is directly related to the visual conventions of oil painting. If The Image Exchange offers some kind of critique of this situation then it is not driven by theory but rather the outcome of the artists, trained and experienced in these two strands of artistic activity, disregarding those boundaries and allowing images to emerge, and operate, somewhere between the two spheres.
Mike Walker is a painter, printmaker, teacher and writer. He has exhibited widely and has work in private collections in Britain and America. Although primarily a studio-based artist he has a long standing interest in collaborative projects and has worked with poet Emma-Jane Arkady, composer Bryn Harrison and most recently with graphic designer Steve Rodgers. In the final stages of doctoral research on the phenomenology of abstract painting, Mike also writes on the work of contemporary artists. He is a member of the exhibiting group Plastic Propaganda.
Steve Rodgers is a graphic designer who, since graduating from Falmouth School of Art in 1999, has worked for advertising and marketing agencies, in house and freelance. Work has covered many sectors, from recruitment campaigns for large retail clients, through member communications, to branding for local businesses. Graphic (commercial) design is by nature collaborative, whether it be creating concepts with colleagues, or developing designs with clients. This collaborative process always produces the best results, finding solutions to problems that cannot be reached alone.