Chapter 89 - What Are My Core Brand Values? 'Be Bold with Beauty' - 2020
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
I had recently got into discussion with a potential client about doing a commission that was completely out of my comfort zone and it made me think about what my values as an artist are, what I would be willing to work with and what I may not. This may sound big headed as money is money, but there are some things that potential clients may ask for that just do not really sit well with me on a personal level and therefore, not on brand for me.
The commission I was asked to do was to paint in the style of those vintage pinup girls, you know the ones I mean, painted in an airbrush style, cartoonish outlines, teeny tiny waists on the women, very 1930's vibe. The discussion between me and the client didn't get much further than the basic idea after I started to ask for more specifics. This is the case for many potential clients who reach out, as soon as there is a price mentioned, you never hear from them again, this is just a part of the life of the artist world unfortunately.
Anyway, this commission made me think that I do not want to be an artist who will edit and manipulate a any body male or female, as that is such an outdated thing to do and also part of the reason why magazine covers and other forms of media get so much hate, they are not representing people of the real world. I would not want to be an artist who edits a body type to make someone look like they have the 'perfect' body type like what happens in the media. In some cases within the media, the models are photoshopped so poorly, if that edit of the model were real, they would actually have to remove part of their ribcage to be that slim. So no, if someone asks me to change or manipulate their body in some way, I won't do it as that not only isn't a true representation of them, but this also contributes to the idea that every body has to be a certain size to 'look good' which is what magazines and other forms of media are feeling the heat for now, adding to mental health issues and eating disorders.
It could be said that I 'beautify' the people in my portfolio by removing blemishes or making their skin tones radiant and glowing for example. Yes, I will agree that I do that, but I just work with what is already there and then help give it a fresh, new glow. This process of 'beautifying' is a stylistic choice consistent throughout the rest of a portrait: the hair, clothing, accessories, they all have a healthy glow about them, whether it is a male or female portrait, both get the same treatment of having a more radiant than life style of finished artwork. The same process of 'beautifying' is used on the animals and objects I have worked with, my style of work just gives whatever the subject a healthy glow with high contrasts of white highlights and sharp shadows. My style of working is not a way of trying to illustrate or redefine what is the idea of beauty is, I just enhance what is already there. So rather than 'beautify', which comes with its own negative connotations of editing and removing what some may not view as traditionally beautiful, I'd rather say that my paintings have a 'radiant glow' about them.
Following on from a point raised just now, I want both my male and female subjects to have equal treatment of how they are painted in my style. I know a few artists who say that painting women is alot more satisfying than painting men because you can use a bit more creativity and emphasise the beauty already there, whereas men should be more structured and angular in a painting because that is 'masculine' and women can be softer because that is 'feminine'. I say no to that, I want both men and women to have the same treatment within the way I paint them, men can be bold with beauty too. Our skin, hair and clothes are all the same, it just comes in different shades, styles and sizes, so why not let men have skin that glows just as bright as women or hair that has a healthy shine, women can have cheekbones that are just as defined as mens, break the mould of 'masculinity' and 'femininity'.
I have mentioned this point previously in another blog post, but I want my work to be focused on the 'believability, not realism'. My aim is to have my paintings allow you to return to a world that you love for even just a second. I want people to see the likeness of their favourite characters and then their minds will wonder for a moment, if I achieve that when people look at my work, I know that it has been successful.
Then finally, working with celebrities or characters from TV/Film, if someone sends a photo of their favourite actor straight from Google Images I will not do it. This is because I do not own the copyright to that image and the client who took the image from Google Images most likely doesn't either. Copyright is a big and real thing. As a way to get around copyright issues of working from famous faces or franchises, I have used this process for all the famous faces in my portfolio by the way, I collage together multiple different photos. This gets around the copyright issue as the new reference is essentially a whole new reference that does not exist. Using 4 or 5 different photos to construct a new photo of the client's favourite actor is the best way to get a portrait painted by me.
This is not a process I would expect my client to do of course, this would be something that I create for them. For example, if a client wanted a painting of Lily James as Cinderella from Disney's Live action Cinderella (2015), all I would need to know is: what sort of pose they are looking for, what outfit because she has two iconic outfits to choose from and with that comes the hairstyles and makeup, then what kind of facial expression. Then I will do all the photo reference research necessary to create a who new photo reference by collaging together numerous images. This is a special process as it is not only gets around copyright, but also allows your artwork to be exclusive to you as that photo reference do not exist anywhere. I know alot of artists just use one photo reference from the internet when working with famous faces, but this is their client and the artist's choice to risk potential copyright issues, I will not be taking that risk to protect myself and the client. This sounds complicated but for the client it is just a case of putting in a request for the actor/character and I do the rest of the hard work.
To conclude, my artwork aims to capture a realistic likeness of whatever subject I am working with. Whether it's men or women, animals or nature, food or fashion, my artwork emphasises the beauty of each subject, allowing them to be bold with beauty.