1998, Nick set up his own fashion label, ‘Purple Om / Random’ a cult T-shirt brand that was sold all over the world in high end department stores such as Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Liberty’s, Collette in Paris and Barney’s in Tokyo. Nick cites himself as one of the first designer T-shirt label brands building upon the ’90s obsession with psychedelic images and youth culture. He has also worked on collaborations with Levis Red-Japan, Eliminator-Japan, Block 60-Italy, Griffin Studio-UK, and Harvey Nichols. It was Nick’s unique techniques and style that began to gain interest from the art industry and he began to explore ways to express his love of fashion and culture through individual pieces of fine art. His background in design meant his digital skills opened a world of possibilities to him, and after years of experimentation, he is now producing breath taking mixed –media pieces based around these interests.
Nick’s creative process is both playful and complex, and informs the entire message of each powerful portrait. Once he has chosen an image to work with, he will manipulate it using a pixilation process, this is a technique that requires vigilant control over the placement for each individual pixel (of which there are hundreds for each image).
The pixilation is then overlaid with Nick’s chosen repeated icon, often a famous brand logo, which he identifies for its association with the chosen subject. An example of this is his Kate Moss portrait; this was based on a photo shoot she did for Playboy Magazine, so the graphic Nick chose to work with was the playboy bunny. Nick then adjusts the scale of these icons to enhance the definition to the overall subject and finishes by using airbrush and inks to add colour and tone to the painting, thereby introducing a hand finished and original element to each piece.
This thoroughly modern, cutting edge process contrasts with the nostalgic nature of the images, which Nick says are inspired by the musical legends of his youth, and the hours spent flicking through his mother’s fashion magazines as a child. This unexpected combination imbues the pieces with emotional depth, occasional wit, and a surprisingly vintage style for something so contemporary.
Freddie Mercury’s sister and Brian May both hold Nick’s portraits of Freddie in their private collections.All Artists