Born 1983, Derek Harrison began pursuing art since he was able to hold a pencil. It all began as an innocent journey of exploration and the excitement that came with applying a vision to a piece of paper. In later years Derek was consistently dabbling in art, always drawing, painting, etc...Initially the inspiration from graffiti played a large role in the type of art he was doing. Following years of experimentation with spray paint and eventually transitioning to canvas, Derek landed a tattoo apprenticeship with Colorado artist Brad Cramer. The formative years were spent drawing every minute of the day into tattooing full time for the next several years. In 2009 Derek made the move to Santa Barbara, CA and eventually landed at his current home and studio in Los Angeles.
Tattooing on the coast of California was incredibly inspirational and that's where the true journey of his painting would begin. Fellow tattoo artist Shawn Barber and contemporary painting phenomenon had recently moved into a new studio space in Los Angeles. This is where Derek began taking painting workshops on a regular basis. Two years later and he says "Shawn opened my mind to the revelation that art is not an innate "talent," it's the culmination of knowledge, study and relentless work. I wouldn't be where I am today without Shawn's influence and help. He instilled the values of hard work and determination relating to the pursuit of one's craft." After studying with Shawn Derek began a rigorous amount of self-study and began taking classes and workshops with other artists such as Sean Cheetham, Jeremy Lipking, Ignat Ignatov, Jeff Gogue and several others. All of this time was spent painting directly from life. "These years of self-study and learning from some of the best artists living today has provided me with the means to carry out my own visual expressions to the fullest."
Derek's work has become one that combines aspects of the old masters and the admiration for artists such as John Singer Sargent and William Adolf Bouguereau with contemporary subjects and settings. In 2010 Derek submitted work for the historical annual group exhibition at La Luz de Jesus Gallery (Los Angeles, CA). A gallery where artists such as Mark Ryden, Michael Hussar, Don Ed Hardy, Sean Cheetham, Robert Williams, Shawn Barber and the list goes on…have all shown and many have received their career start with the gallery at the very same show. That year there were over 8,000 submissions which were narrowed down to 120. Three pieces of Derek's were selected to be shown and before the show opened two had sold. From the galleries 120, the "top seven" were chosen for feature exhibitions. In August of 2011 Derek had his first feature exhibition in Los Angeles. Since this debut he has continued showing throughout CA, as well as out east, Europe, etc. and his work has continually progressed. After several years in the tattoo industry Derek transitioned into painting full time. Fine art became his true calling and he soon came to be one of the most exciting upcoming contemporary realist painters today. His work is figurative in nature and portrays the world in which he lives and the people whom inhabit it. "My aim is to convey the inspiration and beauty in the subjects and settings I paint. Art has the amazing capacity to connect with all people. My hope is to bring the amazing qualities that many years of study and experience has lead me to understand and now express through my work."
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