Surrey born, Vincent Kamp first exhibited his original oil paintings in 2014 at the New Artist Fair's 'Framed Exhibition' at Candid Galleries in Islington, London. Our visitors, including several galleries and other art event organisers, took great interest in his cinematographically styled portraits of sports and film stars such as Robert Downey Junior. Vincent continued to exhibit at the New Artist Fair over the next 2 years whilst fine tuning his distinct style of portraiture which artistically combines visual inspiration from movie sets with real life subcultures.
The inaugural Talented Art Fair in 2017 provided him the platform to exhibit a groundbreaking series for Vincent's career: his very popular (and completely sold out) Barber Shop paintings, which were hung in a Barber Shop setting within his own dedicated area in the fair. Unsurprisingly some of these paintings had sold even before the Private View, but exhibiting the work as a complete series was an important joint decision between Vincent and the art fair organisers that not only added value to the works of art but also provided them with an impressive provenance. By the end of TAF17, all 18 of his incredible oil paintings had found new collectors and he was scouted and signed by Mayfair's premium contemporary gallery Clarendon Fine Art. This meant TAF17 was the last time buyers would have the opportunity to buy Vincent's work directly from him and thus has propelled him into the next level of the London Art Market.
Many gallery level artists exhibited at the inaugural Talented Art Fair in March 2017, and Vincent Kamp epitomises this new era of artists who are combining their artistic talent, friendly personalities, absolute dedication and spot on business acumen. We're thrilled to be part of this artistic revolution happening in London and look forward to continuing to promote and nourish the 'artrepreneurs' who are creating new and positive stereotypes of what it means to be a professional artist.
TAF Director and Co-Founder Oliver Norris, caught up with Vincent exactly a year after his innovative Barber Shop exhibition at TAF17 to discuss his rise to success and the incredible journey he's been on. Continue reading to learn more about how he made it in the London Art World...
1) When did you first start painting, how did you start out?
I think the more interesting question may be when did I start taking painting seriously as I'd dabbled about a bit with acrylics trying all sorts of silly/fun styles and ideas, just creating. I didn't really go deep with painting proper, like grown up painting with oils until about 7 years ago, although I did still do the odd acrylic piece here and there.
2) What was your first entry in London's art world and what did you gain from that experience?
In terms of displaying art, I think it was with you guys at New Artist Fair around 2014. It was great fun talking to lots of other artists and meeting the punters visiting the show.
3) Your technique and skill level have improved even more over the years that we've known you, tell us about the courses and people you've learned from and how they've helped you?
I've done lots of online courses, but I think the breakthrough for me was studying in Rome with Sean Cheetham a couple of years ago. I have been an admirer of Sean's work ever since I saw his portrait of Chantal Menard at the BP show in 2005. Sean is so good at simplifying form and working with colour and value. His paintings are beautifully painterly, you can see the brushstrokes, he is the John Singer Sargent of our time...in my opinion. He gave me the confidence to take my painting to the next level.
4) What would your ultimate solo exhibition be and where?
Well I'm all about creating an immersive experience to view the artwork so it depends on what the series is all about. If it was about prisoners, I'd want the paintings to be displayed in an old jail and populate the show with actors in character like I'm doing for my next show. I like to tell stories with my paintings, so the more I can bring the viewers into my world the better. I want them to feel like the characters could step out of the painting into their surroundings or better yet that the viewer can step in and be part of it.
5) You do much more than paint with oils, tell us about your creation process and how you stage your stories and scenes?
If it's a series of paintings, I'll spend quite a long time coming up with the story first. I'll write it out as a short story, and let it sit for a while, it'll go through quite a few edits. I then have a pretty good idea of the type of people i'm looking for in the characters and I'll start to think who do I know already and who do I need to cast in these roles. On my last shoot I worked with casting director Miles Anthony who helped me get everyone I needed. I then need to find my location, this can be super hard to sort out. Then there's hair and makeup, wardrobe and lighting and all kinds of other crap I have to put together for the shoot. I'll take a ton of pictures and then it's to the studio for a week or so of editing and compositing in photoshop. After that I'll do some charcoal studies and colour studies to see if it's all gonna work the way I want. Then finally the painting starts. It's probably the last 10% of the whole process.
6) How do you choose your themes and let us know what you are currently working on?
I go to the cinema a lot....I mean a lot. When I watch a movie I write a critique when I get home, what did I like, which characters, what about the lighting, the scenes, the time period, loads of stuff. But sometimes, I'll just see something going on in a bar or on the tube and a whole narrative unfolds in my head. I've got tons of ideas, 90% crap but every now and then i think that somethin might just work.
I'm currently working on The Long Game, my solo show in November. It's a high stakes poker game at a sleazy tiki club, the players are pretty cool and kinda dangerous. It all goes a bit mad, you'll have to wait and see. It was so fun to put together, 19 actors, a poker table and all kinds of mayhem.
7) How do you find the time to paint, promote your work, organize your sets and have meetings, what is your usual weekly schedule?
Yeah, that's tough. I pretty much work 7 days a week but I'm super organized and am pretty good at getting shit done. I'm actually working hard to back off a bit as it can really mess with your chi.
8) How has being signed by Clarendon Fine Art changed your life?
Well I paint full time now. I was trying to paint in the small hours, run a family business and spend time with my family. Clarendon have been really great, they seem to sell all my work before it's even on the walls of the gallery, they are really professional and are just a really fantastic bunch of people.
9) What is next in line for you after the next in April?
I'm going to be working on the Long Game for a while yet, there are going to be quite a few paintings and some pretty big ones. I'm in conversation with Sam Smith to do some paintings and I'm always planning my next series which I can't talk about at the moment because I'm not enitrely sure which one it will be.
10) What advice would you give to artists starting out or trying to break through to the bigger stage?
In my opinion, you have to be really professional about it. It's not enough to just paint beautiful pictures. You have to think about all the other stuff like how to talk about your work and what you are trying to do, about building relationships with the people who like your work so they will go out there and tell people about you. Which shows you are going to attend to see what sort of work is being produced and talking to the artist about what they are selling. How much you are going to sell your work for? Which shows are you going to exhibit at? Not necessarily just to sell work but to practice talking about your work and your process to the punters. Get comfortable with rejection and praise so you don't take either too seriously. I could go on but mainly there so much more to being a professional artist than just painting!