“What inspired this seemingly simple, but brilliant concept?
I started, desperately wanting to let out the ideas and imaginings that were my constant companion since I was a child in the hope that I would avoid the path I was on to be an aged man who had never done anything with them. I felt an itch but couldn’t figure out how to scratch it as much as I tried (I started an ill-fated novel once then painted and tried my hand at being the richest share trader in the world).
But as I started to write about them I realised the magic a simple tale can do. It’s like a friendly ghost that floats over the moats and towers of people’s defences and pierces their heart and thoughts.
So a perfect storm began to swirl because I longed to create and draw, I imagined events and tales and the more I did those things, the more I saw things that made me wonder as I walked around the city. I combined the shortest novels in the whole world with the simplest drawings I could do with the things I notice the most – the unnoticed.
You rediscovered art after realising it had been missing from your life. How has this realisation changed your life?
Oh – it’s wonderful (at times excruciatingly frustrating and I’ve learnt to embrace failure as a trusty companion to get better). Art points to the mysterious, transcendent, indescribable wonder of creating something that can be released and find a home in another person’s mind. Then more I create the more I want to create and a 15 minutes that once felt torturously long has given way to hours that don’t feel enough.
Are you still working in financial services or are you interested in being a full time artist? Some artists (& writers!) like to keep a foot in both worlds for inspiration – and food.
Financial services is a world I thoroughly enjoy and fuels some of my inspiration but I also dream of creating an art movement where simple black ink drawings in vibrant colours with short tales aren’t thought of as cartoons. I dream of Brit pop artist Damien Hirst taking one of my works and bathing it in formaldehyde and selling it for $1 million and Russell Crowe purchasing one of my pieces for his Nana Glenn property.
I read that you make the effort to get up 15 minutes earlier before work to draw, is this like a meditation for you?
Yes, it started as 15 minutes but now it’s 1-2 hours each day. It is amazingly meditative as I consort with my thoughts and think of the indescribable things like humanity and God and meaning. Some of my deepest thoughts have been in the coldest, darkest hours of the morning.
You make us notice people we may just otherwise brush past on the street or the bus. Is there anything in particular you look for?
I try to notice the unnoticed or imagine a tale that leaps over the ordinary. Like my recent piece thanking parking inspectors for making our lives safer. People who have interesting faces are wonderful but likewise ordinary people doing ordinary things in amazing places. I’m working on this piece about a man in a white corporate shirt and tie I spotted purchasing another white shirt in a shop brimming with the most fantastical, opulently coloured shirts and suits. It intrigued me if he’d faced an inner-battle before settling on another white shirt.
Is there a certain place in the city that you especially find inspiring?
Newtown is relentlessly colourful, likewise George Street at lunchtime in the city is like drinking from a fire hose of inspiration as well as The Strand. But everywhere I go, even quieter places are wonderful. I spotted an loving older couple sitting on a quiet park bench that I just had to capture and will finish shortly.
Oscar Finch is not your real name. Why the nom-de-plume?
There is something liberating about an alias or pseudonym. Like JK Rowling’s writing under the name Robert Galbraith it opens a world of possibility. There is also something a little bit magical about having a secret identity like Batman to Bruce Wayne, only poorer and with less gadgets and strength.
“How can more humans see my work? What will make them care when they see it? What will make them care enough to give me money? And before I’m dead? (I’m looking at you Vincent Van Gogh).” Oscar Finch
The idea behind your “World’s First 1st Ever Honesty Box Gallery Exhibition” is brave, and also very optimistic. Can you share a little about your thinking behind this?
There were two things that inspired it. The first was my attendance at an opulent art gallery recently – a wonderful and curious affair – but I noticed that it was mainly poor artists hanging their works on a giant white wall in the hopes of rich benefactors purchasing their pieces. Most humans don’t visit galleries so I decided to do the opposite, but how I thought?
Well, as a boy my family once stopped at a roadside fruit stand where a box sat encouraging customers to place $1 per piece of fruit into the unattended ‘honesty box’. Something magical was going on there with human beings trusted those they would never meet. I want to replicate that feeling.
It’s a radical experiment. But I love experiments with uncertain outcomes because it’s like fishing for the Loch Ness Monster or waiting for Santa to come.
They can expect my original prints, personally signed with price tags and instructions on how to purchase – either cash or via my website. Who will know if people just take without paying? No one. No one at all…
Is there anything more you’d like to share?
I encourage readers to awake 5 minutes early and do what they dreamed of because it will be 5 minutes more than they have done before. If they do it the next day, they might be on the unexpected path to something magical…
To experience more of Oscar Finch’s magical world, visit: