A flippant remark of ‘I could do that…’ when browsing galleries for something bright to adorn the walls of a new build rented flat, has turned out to be a seminal moment. The ensuing experiments with a 4 pack of acrylics, and quickly rediscovered skill of making a subjectively attractive looking mess, was the start of a life changing journey. Painting at weekends as a break from software brand development, my first gallery solo show was in 2008, and I thought I was balancing things pretty well. However…. since focusing on painting full time early 2010, its all gone a little nuts….
I was alright at school if I remember correctly, being able to replicate Monet’s style reasonably, draw pretty realistically in pencil, and won a prize for something as a wee sprog. But – thankfully to be honest – I was persuaded to follow a more academic route. As it panned out, that meant that 15 years later when I started throwing paint around the initially spotless kitchen, that I could practice, learn and develop my style un-pressured – to gradually build up to the sole focus it’s become now, of being my passion, life and livelihood all in one.
I’m perhaps not a textbook artist – my entire aim is for visual impact, to capture characters in a unique way that blows your socks off and to elicit a response something along the lines of ‘woooohhhhaaa!’. The beauty of creating portraits is that each one could mean absolutely everything or nothing at all to you….. but everyone has an idol, mentor, someone they’re a massive fan of or indeed love… its an absolute honour to be asked to immortalise them all in paint.
I strive for the impression of explosive energy, movement, expression and the maximum in 3D effect in everything I do, be it painting or sculpture – several techniques combining for the end result. Every painting is large scale and around 2cm thick oils in places (yes, I get through a fair amount of the stuff), usually on board for a completely flat background so that the texture of the subject really comes out at you. Recently using home made neon paint too which really is a visual slap in the face, and with a team of incredible photographers so we can reproduce the effect for limited editions. I’m fascinated with how perceptions change with distance – the biggest unintentional compliment I’ve had was that my work looks like a photo from a distance, and porridge close up. Love that!
Always trying to push the boundaries… I’m continually experimenting with new techniques and materials, trying to bridge the gap between painting and sculpture. You won’t see all of the experiments – but those that do work and make it out into the world I think you’ll always be able to tell it’s ‘me’ with the visual style and ubiquitous splats.
A lifelong sportsman… many of my ‘eureka moments’ come on hours stuck inside my own head out on the bike. Others from the oft completely random brainstorming over dinner or hiking with the Mrs (and PA) Ashley. There’s no such thing as a crazy idea any more….. which in itself is the most inspiring and empowering thing if you truly believe it.
I love the challenge of painting, especially tricky commissions when I’m asked to paint an image perhaps I wouldn’t have chosen myself. I’m naturally competitive, I guess from my background in sport – and for sure a big part of the enjoyment for me is constantly having to re-think, battling to bring a piece alive. I love the PR and networking side of things just as much – and why to date, I manage that side of things myself.
Published by Wishbone Art, in partnership with galleries covering the UK. And in F1 by Memento Exclusives. About half of my work is motorsport related, including with British Embassies around the World promoting ‘Creativity is GREAT Britain’ during F1 weeks. The rest… features anything I love, icons of film, music and sport.
In the last few years I’ve created commissioned work for Instituto Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Bruno Mars, Lewis Hamilton, Chelsea FC, The Rugby Players Association, Team Sky, Jenson Button, Max Chilton, Sir Alex Ferguson, Theo Paphitis, James Hunts family, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Red Bull, Pirelli, Monster Energy, CBS Television, Jake Humphrey, Wretch32 and JLS’s Aston, among many others…. and partnered with galleries, charitable organisations, leading rights holders and motorsport teams worldwide.
Featured globally in every F1 Paddock Club, on the boulevard at McLaren MTC, The Tour of Britain, Playboy Club London, Selfridges Oxford St, Harrods, CNN, Goodwood Festival of Speed ITV4 show, Channel News Asia, Chelsea FC TV… and a gallery near you. Patron to Its In The Bag (Testicular Cancer Awareness) and regular fundraiser for Cancer Research UK, NSPCC, Rugby Players Association, Clic Sargent and GOSH
To be honest… subject matter isn’t really a choice. Its just… me.
I mean, F1 has been a passion for as long as I can remember… a marriage of my background in competitive sport and studying Aerospace Engineering at University perhaps. All I watched as a sprog was Star Wars – the only VHS we had I reckon! My 10th birthday was a cinema trip to see Empire Strikes Back, and I now have a movie accurate Stormtrooper in my TV room. I credit the basis of my creativity to literally decades messing with Lego. I spent my formative years dreaming of being a pro cyclist, and I’m for sure proud to be British. There we have the vast majority of my subject matter over recent years!
My 2015 London solo show ’80’s Kid’ explored this concept even deeper… 18 artworks covering most everything I grew up with, played with, broke, idolised or was scared by.
All this makes occasions like running around Star Wars film sets, F1 garages and the Team Sky bus and being able to actually call it ‘work’, a little mind blowing. Being a fan and creating artwork of everything that I love in the world has bizarrely come full circle.
Yes… I guess it’s also ‘lucky’ that the above happen to work commercially. But then, maybe that just means that I’m not that weird after all! I just create what I would want on the wall, which makes subject choice, PR, marketing and just plain old talking to people about what I’m doing really straight forward. Its just… me. And makes it pretty bewildering sometimes how this has now become day to day life. It’s so difficult not to be a fan boy when working with your own personal heroes!
As for style of painting, thats been kind of a natural progression too. I’ve never read a text book, no formal lessons since 16 when they told me to aim for engineering instead as no one ever makes any money from art. My ‘first piece back’ aged 29 was a simple abstract…. but still has splats and thick texture. From there it’s been continual development, mostly just by practice, learning from trial and error. I rarely look at other artists work… I’d rather not be swayed by what others are doing. But I’ll always be thinking, experimenting different ways to do things from a structural and material perspective… let alone being allowed to play (sculpt…) with actual raced F1 components now too… how on earth is that ‘work’!?
And then there’s you guys…a constant source of inspiration and proof that I’m on the right track. To be honest… I’ve no firm plan of where I’m going. Just… forwards. And I’m so loving the journey.