Since launching a Twitter account to showcase his art, Jamie Wilkinson has caught the attention of many of the celebrities he has painted. Laura Reid reports.
It started with his friends badgering to see his latest artwork and now Jamie Wilkinson’s pieces have found their way into the possession of some of the most well known faces in the worlds of sport and entertainment.
His celebrity portraits have caught the attention of household names including former football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, track and field athlete Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and comedian Jack Whitehall - all of whom he has painted and met. “Nearly everyone I have met does own my artwork now,” he says.
After pestering from his friends to see his latest work, Jamie launched a Twitter account five years ago to showcase his art, posting everything from illustrations to cartoons - and his celebrity portraits.
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“My friends used to always look at my phone and ask me what artwork I was doing at the time,” the 32-year-old explains. “One suggested I set up a Twitter page so that’s what I did. I started posting a few pieces on there and I started getting recognition.”
“I realised that people really liked to see my celebrity ones because they like to see a familiar face,” he adds. “So I started doing more and doing ones that I thought would do well. People liked looking at them and wanted to see more.”
Jamie, of Rotherham, would often tweet the celebrities he painted and among those to notice his work was TV personality Calum Best, the son of the late professional footballer George Best.
“Calum was the first public figure to encourage me online, and shortly after his kind words, we met. He now has the painting I did of his dad.”
Over the past few years, Jamie has painted famous faces including Harry Redknapp, Howard Webb and Kevin Keegan and he has been called upon to produce celebrity portraits for charity events, with the work being auctioned off to raise money for good causes.
“Once you have started painting and meeting celebrities, it seems to be easier to meet someone else, because they have seen your work and they seem to be keen to get involved,” he says. “It snowballs.”
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Jamie taught himself portraiture after completing a degree in biomedical sciences. By day, he is a lab technician at South Yorkshire’s Brinsworth Academy but it his passion to work in art full time.
Earlier this month, Jamie invited Sheffield shoppers to join him in creating his latest work. Setting up his easel outside the city’s town hall, with an incomplete painting of David Beckham, he encouraged passers by to grab a brush and get creative.
“I wanted to get people involved and inspired by art,” he says. “I wanted them to come along and see what they could do, whether they could finish the painting off and also whether they would be interested in seeing my other work.”
“To say I was nervous is an understatement,” he admits. “I’ve never painted in public before, in fact, I’ve never painted outside of my kitchen before, but with my first ever Sheffield [solo] exhibition approaching, I desperately wanted to get to know the city.”
Video footage of the joint effort in creation shows people of all ages and artistic abilities getting involved.
“My aim was to encourage everyone, regardless of their worries about ‘messing it up’. I wasn’t interested in creating something perfect, I just wanted to share the joy painting brings me. Seeing so many smiles as people painted was incredible.”
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Jamie’s ‘7’ exhibition will feature seven celebrity portraits including the faces of Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon and David Bowie and will run for seven nights. It is open from 7pm-9pm on November 11 to 15 and 10am-4pm on November 16 and 17 at Studio November on Carver Street in Sheffield city centre.