Lee Ellis interview
By Javier Melian, Chrom-Art.org co-founder
A unique blend of talent, torment, expression and introversion, that's Lee Ellis. His impactful work has been echoed by the public and receives tons of great comments. Lee's recent London show with Black Rat Projects and appareance at Battersea Affordable Art Fair were big successes and this is just the beginning of the climb.
Heads and spirits crushed in a turbo mixer, that's how I would describe the first glance at Ellis's work. But energetic shaking is always a precondition of a good cocktail. The results are powerful, vibrant chaotic brilliance, and a link to deeper emotions that one can relate to.
Lee's hard work, resilient optimism and tenacity can be seen in his book of work which is consistent albeit varied. He does drawings, charcoals, lino cuts, oil... depicting from portraits, to abstract, and still live.
Originally from Cheltenham, Lee moved to Bristol in 2004 to study graphic design. Along the journey of study he met his fiancé and Bristol became his home ever since. After graduation Lee worked
on what he classes as several pretty unfulfilling jobs before finding his feet and eventually become art director. In between the various jobs he would paint. It's where his passion grew into
what you can appreciate today in his art. He paints every day; before and after work, with the aim of making art a full time job.
How and when did you realise you were an artist
From a very early age, I realised creativity was my passion and I dedicated all of my time to it. I would draw every day and carry a little sketchbook with me everywhere. I have about 80 at the moment. I began concentrating on Graphic Design from the age of 13 as I thought it would be the best way to be creative. So I studied at University and at present work within the creative industry as an art director. After graduating I began painting in my spare time before and after work. It was then I realised that was what I really wanted to do. The freedom and expression you achieve from art as opposed to a restrictive brief from a brand is amazing. I'm working hard to make it my job.
Did anyone specially encouraged you to become and artist?
I had encouragement from friends and family, but I'm an incredibly driven person so the encouragement comes from within me. I've tried to stop creating, but it just doesn't work out.
How would you describe your style?
Expressive and tormented
Is there a message in your art? What is it?
I aim to tell a story with every piece. Giving the voiceless a voice by looking at the person inside. I've recently began telling these stories within still life through the use of texture and mark making. I find psychology interesting and in particular addiction.
Was there a journey to figurative expressionism? How has your style evolved through time?
There definitely was quite a journey. My design background led me to create stencils, but I found them restrictive. So I started slinging paint around my bedroom to create abstract pieces. They were dreadful. I also lost my deposit on that flat at the time.
I stopped creating mess and moved into warped character pieces that evolved into warped portraiture. Over the last few years the mark making and texture has come to life within the work, evolving it to what you see today. The stories within the pieces have evolved over time
What would be your dream collaboration?
Tough question. Part of me doesn't want to collaborate as I like the solitary, introverted way of painting. The other part would like to work with someone very different in style to me. Someone like Dale Marshall or Remi Rough. This way i can hold onto my expression and create a different dimension to the work.
What other artists do you admire? What is your favourite piece of art?
Wow. Where the devil do I begin?
I admire so many artists. All with different styles and from different eras.
I've always loved the work of Lucian Freud, Arnulf Reiner, Francis Bacon, Jean Michelle Basquiat and Frank Auerbach. I'm at present loving the work of Dale Marshall, Adam Neate, Antony Micallef, Jaybo Monk, Remi Rough and Joseph Loughborough.
Bristol has always been an inspiring city for the arts. How would you describe the current art scene and opportunities for artists to exhibit?
The current art scene is most certainly thriving. I find the city and the people play a massive role in inspiring my art. I love this city!
I find graf', street art and illustration is doing very well, with lots of places to exhibit. Bristol has a real heritage for these genres and it plays to that. The fine art side of things is a little slower. London seems to be the place to be. I found this out when I recently exhibited at the Black Rat Gallery, Soho. The work had more attention and interest in the work grew tenfold.
What other media would you like to explore in the future?
Sculpture / 3D. I feel it would be a natural progression for my style of art and telling a story in a more tangible way. I'm hoping to experiment with clay, once I've finished building my studio
in my garden.
What are your artistic dreams?
To keep creating and getting to do it every day. If my art could be my job; which I'm certain it will be one day, that would be wonderful. I would also love to exhibit throughout the world
Further Information on the Artist´s work on