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When you picture an artist’s work space, you’d be forgiven for expecting a paint splattered workshop full of half-finished masterpieces, but that’s not the life for Anthony Walker. As we enter his London apartment, we’re greeted by his two Chihuahuas who seem eager to show us who’s boss. It’s clear that whatever workspace Anthony has, really belongs to them.
His workspace is immaculate. Everything has its place. We joke about the idea that all artist have wild, unkempt work sheds “I would love to but the Mrs would kill me.”
“If I had a bigger space I would be all over the place. I do like neat stuff though so if I had a bigger room it would get messy but I’d have to tidy it up every now and then.” It makes sense. Anthony’s work isn’t the type of art that comes from happy artistic accidents. He’s precise and accurate with the portraits he recreates. Each one is life-like. As if they were taken on a DSLR, rather than pencil on paper.
“I see the shapes and the shadows. Highlights and lowlights are the most important thing in realistic drawing. I use a gridding system and measure it exact. I’m a perfectionist and I do waste too much time. You get one shade wrong on the cheek, it looks like a fat cheek.”
His incredible work has seen him amass a huge following on social media, Instagram being his preferred platform. You won’t catch him posting selfies though. It’s mainly just a catalogue of his WIP commissions. It’s where his work took off after drawing influencers such as Stefflon Don and Lorraine SD.
“When I first started I was drawing for just myself. I drew Instagram famous people… I’d write to people. I’d get some people that write back, some that wouldn’t… My first one was a girl called Lorraine SD, she has 2.4 million followers.” It’s an image you’ll no doubt recognise, after being reposted countless times across Instagram fan accounts & artist aggregators.
“She helped because every time she posted I’d get like bombarded with messages for prices”
It’s a tale we hear a lot at Shores; young artists taking their destiny into their own hands via social media. However, it’s not an easy route. With so many talented artists on Instagram, you have to be the very best at your craft in order to stand out.
What makes Anthony rise to the top isn’t just his ability to tap into social trends, it’s his attention to detail. He sees a portrait in a totally different way that you and I would. Every pore, wrinkle and blemish is taken into account. It’s what brings his work to life.
It’s a skill he’s been perfecting since he was young: “I’ve always loved drawing. As far back as I can remember I used to draw. I wasn’t interested in action figures or playing football even at school I’d stay in during lunch to draw.”
Despite his dedication, Anthony didn’t take the conventional route and had to work on his art outside of the classroom. “In high school I realised I was quite good but in my GCSE’s when I studied art I got an E, so it was confusing because the whole way through my teachers would tell me my work was good.” It was a blow that followed him throughout his education. “From there I did fine arts because I was I was going to be a graphic designer, but I had to be in a lower set. I said to them ‘I know all this stuff’ but they wouldn’t move me up so I ended up dropping out.”
Like many creatives, education didn’t suit Anthony but it hasn’t stopped him. His talents have supported him through some of the most challenging times of his life and he admits that after dropping out of college and straying from his art career life took an unexpected turn. “I was messing around with friends and doing silly things and I was lead into a life that wasn’t really me.” Even when finding himself in tough situations, Anthony’s artistic skills never left him. “Even when I was in jail people would say ‘you’re not meant to be here’. I started drawing in jail to be fair and I was selling them in there to people and stuff for food. It was the first time since school that I started drawing but I didn’t carry it on when I left.”
“It took that dramatic thing to happen for me to turn it around again.”
Anthony never looked back after that experience. He stopped hanging around with the same people. He moved. He started working. But he got caught up in the stress of everyday life. “I forgot about art because I went from this job to that job, onto a plumbing job, to another plumbing job. I got a few jobs but nothing I wanted to do and it just got to the point where I couldn’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life.”
When working with a friend Anthony found he could relax a little bit and on his work break he started doodling here and there. “I started to think ‘can I draw anymore’?”
It seems odd to hear Anthony question is abilities when most of us could only dream of having his skill set. It’s almost as if the self-doubt that began in education has never left him. Maybe you know the feeling, that niggling voice that haunts most artists and stunts their growth.
But thankfully Anthony isn’t letting it hold him back. He’s growing his following, honing his skills and becoming well-known for his realistic artwork. “Realism, that’s what I strive for all the time in whatever I do. When I was younger I used to do stuff like manga and all that kind of thing. It’s not as much satisfaction as drawing something that you look at and you take a glimpse and think ‘Woah, that looks like a photo.’"
It’s easy to see that Anthony is truly passionate about his work and will continue to be relentless in the pursuit of his art career. We’re extremely excited to be collaborating with Anthony at Shores. If you’re interested in hearing more about Anthony’s journey and when his exclusive, one-of-a-kind leather jacket will be available - sign up for more information below.