From Star Wars to Formula One, Lego figures to Super Heros, Paul Oz has painted them all. His explosive portrait art has earned him a loyal fan base, including commissioned work for Instituto Ayrton Senna, The RPA, Red Bull, Pirelli and Team Sky. As well as celebrity collectors such as; Jenson Button, Max Chilton, Sir Alex Ferguson, Theo Paphitis and Sir Bradley Wiggins to name a few.
Paul describes himself as a visual artist and sculptor, focused on creating impact with explosive energy, movement and a whole lot of paint! Oz is the first to admit his style is far from traditional.
“I’m perhaps not a textbook artist – my entire aim is for visual impact, to capture characters in a unique way that blows your socks off and to illicit a response something along the lines of ‘woooohhhhaaa!’. The beauty of creating portraits is that each one could mean absolutely everything or nothing at all to you….. but everyone has an idol, mentor, someone they’re a massive fan of or indeed love… it’s an absolute honour to be asked to immortalise them all in paint”
Inspiration of an 80s Kid
You can clearly see Paul’s passions in his work, as they form the vast majority of his subject matter.
Growing up in the 80s he was obsessed with Star Wars, and has fond memories of going to see the Empire Strikes Back for his 10th birthday. And it’s a passion that hasn’t left him, he now has a movie accurate Stormtrooper in the hall. This strong emotional link to his work, and enthusiasm for his subject matter has seen Paul’s work become part of the official Star Wars Art Shows.
When not obsessing over Star Wars, Paul spent much of time playing with Lego, something to which he credits the basis of his creativity.
Paul attributes his love of Formula One, a passion of his for as long as he can remember, to a combination of his background in competitive sport and studying Aerospace Engineering at University. Again, this connection to his subjects really comes through when you see how he captures the F1 greats, Senna and Schumacher. He frequently exhibits at the Grand Prix.
Paul’s inspiration is straightforward, he creates artwork of the things he’s passionate about, of things that he’d like on his wall. And in doing so he creates artwork that evokes fond memories for a whole generation of children who grew up in the 80s. His 2015 London solo show ’80z Kid’ explores this concept even deeper, with pieces representing all aspects of his childhood.
Super Hero Art
In addition to his 80s Kid Exhibition last year, Oz’s work has been displayed in exhibitions throughout the world.
Ka-Boom!, an exhibition that drew on the creativity from the comic book universe, saw Oz create several iconic superhero and super-villain artworks including;
His eye-catching depiction of Heath Ledger playing the role of the Joker in Batman.
Spiderman, who is seemingly leaping out of the canvas towards the viewer.
From Software to Canvas: How it All Started.
A seminal moment for Paul was back in the early noughties when he was looking for some art to brighten up the walls of a white, new build flat. As I’m sure many of us have when looking at certain artwork, Paul thought ‘I could do that…’ and it turned out he was right!
Paul’s talent for art was evident at school; being able to draw well in pencil, replicate Monet’s style in paint and he even remembers winning a prize for one of his creations. However, he was encouraged to follow a more academic route and ended up working in software brand development. This gave him the opportunity, when he re-discovered his love of art, to paint and create without the pressure of having to make a living from it. Something for which he is very grateful.
“As it panned out, that meant that 15 years later when I started throwing paint around the initially spotless kitchen, that I could practice, learn and develop my style un-pressured – to gradually build up to the sole focus it’s become now, of being my passion and livelihood all in one.”
After rediscovering a skill for ‘making a subjectively attractive looking mess’ with a 4 pack of acrylics (definitely his words and not ours!), Paul started using his weekends to paint and experiment. In 2008 he had his first solo show, and a year later he left his job to focus on painting full time.
Big, Bold, Powerful Paintings
While he had lessons at school, Paul’s had no formal art training since he turned 16 and was told that no one makes money from art and he should pursue engineering instead.
His first piece back was 13 years later, and was a simple abstract rather than the portraits we associate with him now. While his style of painting has seen a natural progression, his trademark splats and thick texture were evident even then.
He was once told by a gallery to paint tall narrow pieces, as these would be easy for people to find room for in a corner. Thankfully Paul was never one to conform, and he started painting even bigger pieces.
These are often on board, as it provides a completely flat background, and can be around 2cm thick with oil in places. This combination, along with several other techniques, creates a sense of explosive energy, movement and a 3D effect of the subject really coming out at you. These big, bold, powerful paintings compel you to stop and look at them.
Advice for other Artists
Paul’s not had a typical journey, and for him it’s important be in charge of his own destiny. He’s among a small number of artists who successfully walk the tightrope being creating and promoting his art. A big advocate of social media (you can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) he spends about the same time at the laptop as in the studio.
“Work hard. Every waking hour more or less. It’s never easy. Talent alone won’t suffice.”
“Positivity wins. Its infectious, especially in a creative world. You need to trust people and say yes more often than not, to be offered opportunities, and to give them a fighting chance to work. Sure, not everything will actually work. But for sure if you don’t try… nothing can. Stand out from the crowd in every way you can… whatever you do that’s different, magnify it. Specialise, be known for what you do… but I think also don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That’s not the healthiest if you want to earn a living. A couple of avenues maybe along the same vein.”
Commissioned Work and Celebrity Collectors
In addition to his portrait work, Paul Oz is the official licensed artist to Star Trek, Denis the Menace, Mr Men and Thunderbirds.
He has painted commissions for Sir Alex Ferguson, Theo Paphitis, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Red Bull, Pirelli Marussia F1, Instituto Ayrton Senna, The RPA, Team Sky, Jenson Button, Max Chilton, James Hunt’s family, Jake Humphrey, Wretch32 and JLS’s Aston among others.
Featured at the GP Ball, Monaco GP, Singapore GP, Playboy Club London, Selfridges Oxford St, Harrods and the Goodwood Festival of Speed ITV4 show.
Despite high demand for his work, Paul also manages to find time to fulfil his duties as Patron to Its In The Bag (Testicular Cancer Awareness Charity) and is a regular fundraiser for Cancer Research UK, Rugby Players Association, Clic Sargent and GOSH.
What Does The Future Holds For Paul Oz?
“To be honest… I’ve no firm plan of where I’m going. Just… forwards. And I’m so sooo loving the journey.”
We’re thrilled to welcome Paul to the Collectors Portfolio and to share his electrifying work with you.