by Javier Melian, Chrom-Art co-founder
Graeme Douglas, aka Hope Arts, is an artist from Newcastle that is starting to make waves in social media with his highly impacting, well executed stencil works. He started with graffiti, then moved to stencils that have progressed into multilayered striking pieces. I met him to find out what he is all about. The man is also very open, grounded, and extremely enthusiastic and I am convinced his hopes will become reality very soon
What were your first experiences with art?
Its quite hard to remember my first experience with art but one of my early memories of drawing was as a kid in school. Mega Drives were popular at the time so you were kind of ranked as an
artist in the class as how good you could draw sonic the hedgehog, I was never the best but that was like a little challenge which did push me to improve, even in the early days. One of my early
memories of picking up spray paint was when a friend of mine had contact with the local council and managed to get permission to paint a local skate park with paint provided, he'd been doing it
for a while and i was just starting out so i took example from him, and a little bit of competition kicked in again.
Have anyone in special encouraged you to pursue your art?
I always get encouragement from my wife in art and life in general, she's always encouraged and inspired my work and i suppose i always like to impress her with my latest piece, I remember giving her a painting as a present early in our relationship and she really liked it. I also paint with a group of friends when we get the chance and its nice to practice and help each other to develop.
Have you got any experiences you want to tell us about?
Its hard to think of something off the top of my head but a message I'd like to give is always take chances and stick with something to the end and see it through. I took a pretty big chance in
going overseas and doing some voluntary work in India over 10 weeks, the trip in itself was so rewarding to get to help out people who are less fortunate, In a time in my own life when i needed
change and I'm still getting the benefits every single day as its where i met my wife. It helped me turn my life around and helping others helped me more than i could
What are your beliefs? What do you stand for?
my main belief in life is be happy, everybody has a different set of values that make them happy and each person should pursue what gives them the most joy, weather its money, power, helping
others, advancing their career or whatever for me its spending time with my wife , friends and doing art, i won't say money can't buy you happiness because it can, but everybody
chooses something different that they will spend their money on.
The history of your life in three sentences
From being a teenager my life wasn't on a great path and didn't really have any direction as to where i was headed or any ambitions, after a while i decided to take steps to change and give
myself more focus and I was very lucky to have the opportunity to travel to India to do some voluntary work. Things didn't change overnight from there but that definitely put me on the right
tracks to where I am now. It's also where i met my wife so id definitely say that was the turning point for me, and my life now is focused on art and friends and family, i hope to get more into
art as a full time artist which will give me more free time for friends and family, i work weekends now so don't get the free time I'd like but I'm working towards that.
What other artists do you admire
My favorite artists are a stenciling duo called Snik, i love the style of their work and am always so impressed by the detail they get from stencils. i love the way they use contrasts in colour
with deep black backgrounds and figures in shadows with brightly coloured dresses and glowing faces, its hard to describe but its almost dream like. another favorite artist of mine is penny, when
you see his work its so hard to believe the detail he can get on such a small scale, painting life like portraits on bank notes with stencils is an amazing talent, not surprisingly though when
you find out he gained his scalpel skills as a neurosurgeon.
I would love to own "souls Apart" painted by Snik its available on canvas or prints but they also painted it 20 foot high on the side of a framing store in LA and if it was at all possible for me
to own such a beautiful piece on such a large scale that would be amazing for me. They are definitely my favorite artists and id love some of their work, but i think ill have to stick to a more
manageable sized version for now lol.
how did you learn to make art?
I am self taught as an artist, I've had an interest in art in various forms all my life but got into graffiti at around age 18 and that is where my love of art grew and lead me into stenciling. It started quite by accident as i saw painting a canvas or two as a way to help me cover the cost of paint for graffiti, but it never really took off for me although i continued to do a few new stencils here and there. It wasn't until recently i decided to actually look more into stenciling as an art form and think more about designs teach myself the skills to produce work at a better quality, moving on from simple one or two layered stencils onto six or seven layers creating more detailed and realistic paintings and developing my style into more striking subjects.
How are you developing your style?
As I've mentioned some of my art is inspired by tattoo art and I take inspiration from other artists like snik, but i love to take inspiration from other mediums, music always inspires me greatly when I'm getting down to design work and helps me focus, i also like the style of comic book art and i think it goes very well with stenciling because of the artwork styles are similar with block colours and shading techniques.
My artistic style is quite varied I mainly do stencil work so all my work has the look of maybe a pop art style and i like to do a lot of black , white and grey work as i find it quite striking.
I do some portraits which i try and go for quite a realistic style and copy from a photograph of customers or even their pets. Which is always fun and quite interesting, but then i also love more
artistic driven pieces, I like things such as skulls and a lot of my work is inspired by tattoos and tattooed people. I think that's sort of what I'm focused on and what I'd call my style, but i
do also love a challenge and its always interesting to get a commission from a customer that is something really different to my style and see how i can incorporate my own touch into their
What are you currently working on?
My main project I'm starting on at the moment is some movie themed canvases for a local bar, the original plan was to paint a whole mural directly on to the wall but the logistics of closing the
bar and trying to fit it in around my job and also the fumes, we just couldn't come to a viable arrangement so were going ahead on canvases, which is going to be easier for me to work from home
but I'm sure painting the wall would have looked better I'm still looking forward to getting it done. The ideas are great as they want classic movie characters from the 50's to modern days so its
nice and varied and we have a similar taste in films so I'm doing stuff from a lot of film i like myself.
Where can we buy your art?
I've only been getting regular sales in the last few months so i don't have a lot of outlets for my work, I mainly sell through Facebook using various local groups to share my work and i have my
own page Hope Arts. I've sold a few pieces through ebay, and as a small artist word of mouth from happy customers has helped me a lot.