The Watchlist - Patrick Church
Patrick Church is a UK-born multimedia artist based in Brooklyn. The internationally recognized artist tells us about his passion for painting and how romance and humor influence his work.
How and when did your passion for fashion and art begin?
Ever since I was very little I've always been making things with my own hands. I used to create things out of cardboard boxes with my grandfather. Initially, I wanted to be a fashion designer – I’ve been putting on my own fashion shows since I was 12 or 13-years-old. I was making clothes, working with different fabrics, and then I met my art teacher who introduced me to some artists – painters especially – and I really got invested in painting as a medium. I then decided that I wanted to be an artist. There is something very special about the art of painting. It felt like a second language to me and without really thinking about it, I started to combine the two together.
I didn't go to university and I was living in London, UK, and I could never find anything I wanted to wear. I was doing some paintings and thought to myself, ‘why don't I put one onto a leather jacket’. Someone who had a small store in east London saw it, picked it up and put it in their store and it sold. I did a couple more after that and they all sold, but I never took my art work seriously until a couple of years ago.
What kind of obstacles, if any, have you faced during your journey to becoming a recognized artist?
There wouldn't be a journey if there had been no obstacles. I was also very stubborn and thought I could do it all by myself, but I've since realized that it's a collaborative effort. You have to let other people help you.
But I've got to say my husband really helped me with that. He is my second pair of hands. I respect and value his opinions and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn't for him.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration with your work?
My biggest inspiration is for one, love and my husband because I am always searching for love in the world. I am very romantic. I also get very inspired by people that are a bit eccentric that I see in the streets, or specific characters that stand out. I like to paint exaggerations of people – if you look at my paintings, I am drawn to unconventional characters, but I also always feel like I include myself and my personality in my work.
What was the first ever piece that you designed?
The first serious piece I made and sold was that painted leather jacket, which has now become my signature touch; the painted leather. It's probably something I will do each season.
Could you tell us about your collections and how they differ from one another?
I feel like my second collection is much more refined, exciting and polished. The first collection was more or less a collection of vintage things that I found, loved and painted on.
I already had the idea of the second collection in my head before collecting the clothes – I knew the story I wanted to tell and the pieces I wanted to make. So, in a way, it felt much more like a real, structured collection. It's much more cohesive and grown up. Incorporating my artwork in my pieces is a flowing theme however, but I'm trying to progress and make it better and better each time.
What are you hoping to contribute to queer culture?
I would like to bring that sense of safety for queer people, and I would love for anyone that wears my work to feel empowered, strong and protected. I think that we as a community can easily feel very self-conscious at times, and I want to do the opposite of that.
You have a very tongue-in-cheek aesthetic. Is humor important to you?
Yes, completely. I think it's very important to have a lot of fun with your work. It's amusing because a lot of my work is about raw emotions, pain and feelings but I like to explore them in a light-hearted way – humor is very important to me. I am quite a flamboyant person, I like to be a bit ridiculous and I want to make clothes and art that reflect my personality.
You use a lot of text in your work. What are you trying to say?
Writing is the only effective way I can express myself. I feel like when I don't make work from a personal point of view, I start to feel to feel very disconnected from the world around me. I use words as a form of therapy.
Why did you move to New York and do you think the city has influenced your work?
I didn't know I was going to move here. I originally came to visit and I never left because I got married to my now husband. I fell in love with him, but I also fell in love with New York. When you live here you realize that the energy of the city is so infectious. You can't escape from that energy, and it's so great for me creatively, I feel very at home here.
I think people here are very open to creativity and want to nurture art, and are always willing to support artists. Being here and in love has greatly influenced my work, but I also think that I got much more support in this city which I didn’t find back in London. I’m always inspired by what people are wearing and doing, and I feel like people here understand my work and my message.
And finally, have you got any exciting projects on the go at the moment?
Yes, I’m actually working on my new collection at the moment, and I am also doing an art show in Manhattan at the Toth Gallery at the same time as New York Fashion Week, because I combine both art and fashion. I am working with Matthew Tierney who is curating for me. This exhibition is very important to me because its bringing me back to my routes as a fine arts artist.
Need to know
Name: Patrick Church
Place of Birth: Oxford, United Kingdom
5 favourite places in NYC:
1. My studio in Brooklyn - because it’s where the creative process happens and where I spend most of my time.
2. What Goes Around Comes Around, SoHo - the best designer vintage and perfect place for inspiration.
3. DuMont Burger, Brooklyn - the best burger and onion rings ever.
4. Central Park - I love cycling around Central Park in the summer
5. Beacons Closet - I always find great vintage pieces here for a really good price!