Incredibly detailed paintings of musicians, actors and characters

Warren Anstiss is phenomenal painter based out of the UK whose acrylic paintings feature beautifully detailed portraits of musicians, actors and popular characters. He has a unique style in which he composes several views of the artist in one piece, often showing them at different stages of their career, or featuring different band members. I first came across his work on Instagram some time ago and have been following his work ever since. I was excited to get to interview Warren Anstiss (Artist Woz) and ask him a few questions about his art and process.

What is your background? How did you get into this art and how long have you been doing it?

After Graduating In Politics I worked for over a decade in the Commercial Print Industry in a number of roles from Quality Assurance to Technical Services management. But it wasn’t a creatively rewarding career and I became disillusioned. After a short period of time away from the rat race I felt the urge to take up art, something I hadn’t been involved with since high school! I started working with Acrylics about 5 years ago, just for fun really. It’s such a cheap and simple medium to get into and very rewarding the more time you spend working with it.

What is your artistic process, from getting an idea or image to completing the art? How long does it take?

After improving my skills and style I started painting famous musicians. I enjoy the subject and the challenges it presents. Not only do I need to get a credible likeness of the person but I also like to try and present them in a way that shows something of their music, personality and style in my art too. I might hear a song or see a music video by a particular artist and this may move me to want to paint them. Or I might receive a commission or request/suggestion. Then I look online for relevant photos of the subject that I feel will convey the themes and feelings I’m trying to portray in my work. More recently I try and only use photos from Live performances as many others can be subject to copyright. Once I’ve sketched out a composition on paper I prepare a canvas board with a ground and then do a rough sketch, freehand, of the images. Then it’s simply a case of painting it slowly and precisely with mostly 5/0 and 10/0 brushes, trying always to get the colours as exact as possible. All done by eye and without any formal training. A standard 16×20 inch canvas takes about 4 or 5 weeks to complete, painting for three to six hours per day. It’s painstaking but rewarding work.

How did you discover your style and what do you find to be some of the most attractive elements?

I discovered my style partly by accident and partly with lots of practice! I believe half of how we paint comes from inside and it’s there from the start. The other half depends on early influences and interests when we first start really learning and getting good. For me the influences initially were pop culture and movies in particular. I love movie posters and the work of the legendary artist Drew Struzan really stood out to me. I spent months painting every day just trying to emulate his famous works and it was through that process that I learned about colour, tone, imagery, portraiture and most importantly how to build an interesting composition that tells a bit of a story about the subject. It’s about trying to engage the viewer into thinking more, not only about the 2D art right in front of them, but also about the subject inside the art. For me that’s the music. I hope my work helps them to hear their favourite tracks in their head or want to go see a concert or download a new album. To me a single portrait of a famous actor, musician or even superhero is pretty boring and typically redundant. I like to piece images together and create a true composition to say more about the subject. That’s what I’d say is one of the more attractive elements of my work.

Where does the name “Artist Woz” come from?

My nickname from ever since I can remember has been Woz. Everyone called me it at school, home, friends family etc. So it’s always been with me. I was going to just call myself Woz online too but I figured I needed more of an explanation or discription to it so I added Artist in front! Plus there’s a few other Woz things about online if you do searches etc but Artist WOZ — only one as far as I’m aware! I sign my work just ‘WOZ’ though.

How did you come up with this unique niche?

I came up with this idea of compositions and story telling through the influences of movie posters like those of Drew Struzan as I touched upon earlier but my first love is music and at some point I decided to paint a movie style poster, but for a band. Something that summed them up and reflected their musical style but in art. The first one I attempted was of the Beatles and I remember thinking at the time ‘wow, I could do this sort of thing for pretty much every single band!’ So that’s what I’ve been doing since and it remains a constant challenge and pleasure.

Why is music a focal point in your art?

Music is the centre of my art because music moves me and in order to create really great art I have to be moved creatively and maybe spiritually even? Only that can bring out the best in me. I’d get bored pretty quickly doing a simple drawing of an animal, landscape or superhero (although I do attempt these from time to time just for a change!). I’m never bored of music or the icons that create it for us. Often I read their biographies and listen to their music before and during painting them so I can get a real feel for the person or band. I try and convey a little of them in my own art.

Where has your art been featured?

Once I started showing my art online about 2 years ago things have just got better and better when it comes to exposure for me and my work. Through Instagram the official accounts of the musician Sting and also Scooby Doo have featured my work. A number of music/band fan pages and art sharing pages have shared my art too. I also won the Prestigious Ilkley art show competition in 2017 with my painting ‘Reflections of Sting’ which went on to be featured in an article on the ‘Painters Online’ website. I have Exhibited my art in a number of venues local to me here in the UK and have a six week solo gallery show booked for summer 2018. I have sold prints and original artworks around the world and have customers everywhere from New York and California to Australia and Scotland.

Where do you see yourself going from here?

I would like 2018 to be about getting my work to as Many people as possible- both digitally through growing my followers further on social media, and in the real world with more exhibitions and clients willing to purchase my work to view it at their leisure in their own homes. I still feel that I’m only just starting out with Art and at beginning of the journey it might take me on. I would say to anybody who knows they are creative — don’t waste any more time — go for it!

You can find Warren Anstiss here: instagram and facebook!

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