Tuesday 23 May 2017

Alan Walsh - Art Deco meets Pop-Art!

Glamourous....fashionable.....playful...are all words that come to mind when you look at the beautiful prints by Alan Walsh, a Yorkshire artist now living in Sydney.

Growing up on the sidelines of Formula One, Alan's creativity is inspired by the glitterati at the racing circuits. His work is almost a tribute to the luxury brands and the beautiful women who wear them so well. Alan's illustrations are bold, colourful, glamourous and has a warholesque quality about them. You cannot help but be taken in by his prints whether it be for women, men or children.

Over the last few years he's worked with a number of prestigious brands such Mercedes Benz, London Fashion Week, Tag Heuer Watches, Tour De France, Grey Goose Vodka, Coca Cola, Neverfail Spring Water and The Royal Flying Doctors. Impressed yet? Well there's more!

I had the opportunity to interview Alan about how he got into design, his inspirations and his work and I was truly blown away by his talent, honesty and passion for creating art. 
[Alan Walsh in his studio]

Can you share with us your creative journey to where you are now?

From an early age I knew I’d work as a creative, it was all I wanted to do. After leaving school my career started as an Illustrator and Visualiser for various design agencies in England, U.S. and Australia. In my spare time I was working on some of my personal art and in 2010 I decided to challenge myself and showcase my first exhibition. The result exceeded anything than I could have ever imagined. This gave me the confidence to make the decision to leave the design world behind and focus solely on my art. Since then I haven't looked back with solo shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, London and also owning my own gallery in Sydney.
What has been the inspiration behind your bespoke designs?

Most of my inspiration stems from my childhood. My father worked in motorsport, designing race cars, so my eyes were opened to an extraordinary world from a very young age. I’d be popped in the back of a car or a motorhome with a colouring book and pens to keep me quiet while we travelled to and from circuits.

The racing was interesting but the thing that truly mesmerised me was off the track, the sheer glitz and glamour that arrives when the Formula One roadshow comes to town. It wasn't only the places we travelled to, I was also captivated by the luxury brands that would sponsor the sport - the huge designer watches the drivers would wear, the way certain woman around the circuit would dress, I loved this, and in the end I’d be drawing the subjects around me more than the racing cars. If you look at my collections these things still feature in my work today.

Print on the right: Paddington

How would you define your style and how has it evolved over the years?

My work is very clean. I like simple bold blocks of colour, clean line illustrations- Art Deco influenced illustrations mixed with the colourful world of Pop Art. In the last year or so I've experimented with just using the sketch elements of my designs on their own as black and white images and they've been pretty popular with people wanting to add a subtle touch of elegance to their wall rather than a large colourful piece.
[Bubbles During The Day]

Do you have a favourite collection or design?

“Glamorous at Night” would have to be my favourite. It was the piece that was wrapped around the Scavi & Ray Champagne bottle for London Fashion Week in 2015.
[Glamorous at Night]

What is a typical workday like for you?

At the moment I'm in a pretty settled routine. I get up at 5:45 am, meditate and then I'm in the studio by 6:30 am. I'm at my most creative in the morning. Currently I'm splitting my time between a new collection for myself and illustrating an advertising campaign for Coca Cola and the Royal Flying Doctors charity.
[Alan at work in his studio]

Can you describe the design process?

I work across different medias when producing my work. First starting with hand drawn sketches, sometimes I'll enlarge or add text using a Mac and then the final step is an old fashioned method of screen-printing which was made famous by one of my art idols Andy Warhol. I produce limited edition pieces with each one individually signed and numbered. Once I'm happy with the print, they are then stuck down to an archival foam board. All my work is hand framed in Sydney.

What are you working on at the moment?

A new Gentlemen’s Collection. Think sharp tailored suit's and hand made Italian shoes, classic European cars layered over bold blocks of bright colours. Art that men can connect with but also their wife or partner might buy them as a gift.
What according to you is the next big thing in interior design?

For me I hope it's Gentlemen’s artwork. I created the collection not only because the subject interests me but I’ve also noticed a gap in the market for men buying art.

A lot of the time men leave the home d├ęcor and decorating to women, but if you’re single guy and want a picture for your wall in a bachelor pad its quite easy to find beautiful illustrations or prints of woman, but not so much men or men’s interests.

The other selling point is a lot of women have asked me to do custom pieces for their husbands. What do you buy the man that has everything? A custom piece of art of their car, watch etc, so I’m hoping this is an area that can really grow over the next few months.

On the left: Cover of Beyond Magazine, UK

What advice can you give those seeking a career in art?

Don't let anyone (especially school teachers) tell you that you can't have a career in art. If you want something enough then with hard work and determination you can make it happen. It's not the easiest career path to carve out and there has been times when I’ve not known where my next meal is coming from but if you stay positive and believe in yourself - it feels bloody good when you come out the other side and people are buying your work.What 3 words describe your brand?

Elegant... Bold... Clean

Can you share 3 things people don’t know about you?

My Yorkshire pudding making skills are second to none...
When I'm drawing, I listen to classical music and burn lavender oil as it helps relax and work at a calm pace...
I only wear a certain brand of English socks, I love the patterns and it makes it very easy for my Mum at Christmas.
[Monaco Classic]

Which is your favourite room in your home and why?

We're currently in the process of moving and looking for a new home, which is easier said than done in the current market. I have just had lots of art framed ready to decorate my new lounge room when we have one. With a mix of vintage fashion illustrations & Slim Aarons photography, our home will have a very vintage European vibe.

Where do you see 'Alan Walsh' (the brand) in five years time? 

A few years ago I wrote down on a piece of paper 2 brands that I wanted to work with. One was Coca-Cola (which I'm fortunate to have ticked and continue to have a great working relationship across a number of their brands), the other one was Paul Smith an English Fashion Designer. I'd like to think within the next 5 years I can work with him.

Certainly the next 12 months though will see me publishing my first book and a series of 3 Sketch books, one for Men, one for Women and one for Children.

Print on the right: Clara sketch series

What's your favourite inspirational quote?

Every child is an Artist...The problem is how we remain an Artist once we grow up ~ Picasso

It has a personal meaning and it makes me smile.

At a personal cross roads several years ago and in a particular down moment I said to myself…"What made me really happy when I was a little boy without a care in the world?" The answer was drawing pictures.

It was then I made the decision to do my first exhibition. Even today I still lose myself for hours and get the happiness from art as I did when I was so young.

On the left: London Fashion Week AW 2015 champagne bottle for Scavi & Ray.

It is not surprising that Alan's work is fast becoming iconic, earning him front covers of art house magazines and having his work used for the coveted London Fashion Week merchandise! Be it the children's collection or the black and white minimalist sketches, the new gentlemen's collection or the iconic prints of the impeccably chic ladies at the races, these cool, playful and bold prints are sure to add a touch of glamour to your walls. Alan Walsh is a hot, emerging artist and if there was ever an artist whose work you should start collecting right away....this is it!

I'm definitely hoping to acquire one of his pieces and also looking forward to getting my hands on Alan's sketch books due to be published in the next year or so.

Till next time... follow Alan Walsh on Instagram or visit the website to buy his pieces!

A big thank you to Alan Walsh for taking time out of his busy schedule for the interview and to Jessie Staszkiewicz from Piccolo PR for organising it.

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