We spoke with artist to the celebrities Dan Pearce on life in the studio, parenthood and big paintings.
Pop quiz: what do Anthony Joshua, Lewis Capaldi and will.i.am all have in common? Answer: they’ve each personally commissioned a unique work of art from mixed-media artist Dan Pearce.
In Joshua’s case, it was a profile portrait of him with the Union Flag radiating far out from his head, sprays of red, white and blue irreverently leaking down an otherwise gilded frame.
London-based Pearce calls his work a, “A cocktail of mixed mediums and an experimentation of mixing digital art with spray paint, screen printing, hand cut stencils, paper collages, 3D objects and bright, vivid colours.”
While his aim is to ‘reveal the unexpected’ by creating tactile artworks to be admired from a distance or up close in minute detail.
When asked which of the many artworks he’s most proud of, he describes to us how Jim Sullivan, son of Only Fools and Horses writer John Sullivan, commissioned a piece.
“I’m a huge fan of the show and I wanted to go with something that had a sentimental connection to Jim. We decided to keep it simple and go with a vibrant yellow van in front of the dreary Peckham background, an illustrated scene that you see on the credits at the start of every episode. Jim also requested I hand write a note in the corner ‘This time next year…’”
Pearce grew up in Merseyside but was born in Australia. It was back in his birth country, where he returned to after college, living in Sydney for seven years, that his love of urban art was born.
He’s now married with two boys, 12 and nine, and believes in promoting art in children as early as possible. “Enthusiasm for art should really start at primary school – by the time students reach year seven, attitudes about what matters in education will have already been established.”
His boys, of course, are taken by some of Pearce’s commissions, especially when it comes to Premiership footballers such as Wilfred Zaha and Jack Wilshere.
The youngest is even Pearce’s photographer. “He comes into the studio and takes photos and films me working and I then post it on Instagram. He’s a budding David Bailey.”
Yet family life wasn’t always so harmonious. “I used to work in the city for 10 years, lots of travelling, team managing, long working hours and not much family time.”
Now, though, he and his wife share looking after the children in a much more organised and balanced way that allows Pearce to spend some days in the studio all day long or go off visiting clients and galleries.
His advice to parents wanting to encourage their own children into the world of art is simple: take them to gallery exhibitions. “Lots now cater for youngsters – especially the Tate Modern in London. It is a great way to introduce kids to art.”
Desert island letters
Ever the experimenter, last year he began pushing his artistic boundaries with neon lighting along with ‘Endangered Spaces’, a set of street photography-cum-paintings that explored the fragile ecosystem and the impact mankind is having on wildlife.
As for the year ahead, aside from the upcoming commission for will.i.am, there’s the small matter of moving to a new and bigger studio. “This will allow me to try out larger scale works.
“I would love to try sculpture and more three-dimensional projects. I’m also planning to paint a huge mural in my hometown. I’ve never done one but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
And what would happen if Dan found himself trapped alone on a desert island with only one piece of art for company? “I’m a huge fan of Ben Eine, a pioneer in the exploration of contemporary typography. I’d take his largest mural titled ‘CREATE’, one of the largest paintings in the world and viewable from space. Because of its size I’d be quickly spotted, rescued and back painting in my studio before nightfall!”
For more info on Dan Pearce visit danpearce-art.com.
All images are credited to Dan Pearce.