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 Southern
California, working in both Los Angeles and landing at his current
home and studio in Santa Barbara.
on the coast of California was incredibly inspirational and that's
where the true journey of his painting would begin. Fellow tattoo
artist and contemporary painting phenomenon Shawn Barber 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, Sergio
Sanchez, Jeff Gogue and several others. He attended and gained
an amazing academic foundation and approach at the Los Angeles
Academy of Figurative Art. 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."
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.
After spending six years working as a tattoo artist in addition
to painting, Derek made the transition to working full time as
a fine artist in 2011. Fine art became his true calling and he
quickly rose to be one of the most exciting 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." He has shown in numerous gallery exhibitions
worldwide, has had his work feautured in several magazines and
books and has won awards for his portrait and figurative pieces.
He says, "My hope is to bring the amazing qualities that
many years of study and experience have lead me to understand
and appreciate. I strive to express this through my work and
create pieces that are moving, thought provoking and inspiring."
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