Take a good look at these pictures then say it: the work owes ‘something’ to Andy Warhol. The painter will not be offended, quite the contrary – he will be flattered. Meet, probably, Scarborough’s first pop artist, Nick Wilkinson.
It is not just the style – bright with yellows and greens, dark with blacks and reds, irreverent and irrepressible – but the subject matter: cultural icons, one and all. Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley and Albert Einstein – people who need no introduction – and fast joining them is Heisenberg aka Walter White from cult TV programme Breaking Bad.
One of the most interesting is Ronald McDonald – it’s distinctive and political. It’s a complex character. It makes statements about the fast-food and movie industries, it’s the Joker, the McDonald’s mascot, Stephen King’s Pennywise, with a dash of Heath Ledger, The Shining and Batman.
“It was a commission for a friend of mine,” Nick said. “He wanted something dark – not that he is a sinister bloke. He described what he wanted and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I knew it was going to look good.”
The latest series of figures have been a progression from geometric shapes which formed the 31-year-old artist’s first exhibition. He has many more subjects in mind: Madonna, Nelson Mandela, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, to name a few. “Friends throw ideas at me, it’s an adventure. I enjoy other people’s input,” he said.
Nick is Scarborough born and bred.
He went to Snainton and Scalby schools before doing an art foundation course at Westwood. He graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2006, with a BA in visual communication.
His dad Peter is a businessman and his mum Sue retired from schoolteaching last year. The portrait of Marilyn Monroe was painted as a joint retirement and 60th birthday present.
“She is a fan and also likes tartan, hence the background,” said Nick. “I took the colour for the background from Marilyn’s eyes.”
Nick works as senior designer for graphic design company Colour Creation based at Woodend Creative Workspace in The Crescent, Scarborough. Clients range from hairdressers to engineering firms, restaurants to gyms. He has two sons and lives with his partner Claire, a barber, in Osgodby.
“I love my job and I’ve always had a passion for fine art and painting is my number one hobby,” he said. “Painting is what excites me most. I’m in full control, no one else can have a say or tell me what to do, I run the show.”
Nick is like his work: confident and funky. He has an easy laugh and can flit between subjects as diverse as Warhol to selling advertising, which he did for the local newspaper.
He creates his pop art in the kitchen of his home and Facebook, as is the modern way, brings in most of his commissions. As well as the paintings of icons, he also does family portraits and paintings of pets.
They are done over the course of a week or so in acrylics – beginner’s paint, according to some – bought from Wilkinsons (no relation) in Westborough for a fraction of the price it would cost from a specialist outlet.
Owning a ‘Nick Wilkinson’ will set you back £750 for an original, less for ‘mates rates’ and cheaper for prints.
Nick is now preparing for his second art exhibition at the Woodend gallery in July.
l You can view his work at www.nickwilkoartwork.co.uk.