We're incredibly excited to announce that David Studwell's unique collaboration with the one-and-only Elton John and legendary British photographer Terry O'Neill will be shown for the first time at our Hampstead fair with ContemporArti! We couldn't wait to sit down with David and find out all about his screenprint 'Elton John: Home Run - Dodger Stadium 1975' and discover how he breathes new life into iconic and timeless images.
What an exciting collaboration! Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to work with Terry O’Neill and Elton John on this project?
I’m a genuine fan of Terry’s work. His portfolio spans several decades and this image allowed me to tap into an era that I’m naturally drawn to - the seventies.
My work often harks back to classic bygone eras such as the sixties and the seventies and this image gave me the perfect excuse to revisit those classic times. Following a meeting with Terry and his representation, we decided to embark on a collaboration. With Sir Elton John’s retirement beckoning; it felt like the perfect time to launch the screen print.
There’s a strong sense of nostalgia in your work. Talk us through the inspiration behind your prints?
I am drawn to classic eras like the sixties, the seventies and the golden age of Hollywood and much of my work focuses on ‘celebrity.’ Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Sofia Loren all crop up in my work, evoking as you say a strong sense of nostalgia.
I take these classic images from bygone times and bring them firmly into the present with my modern approach and style. My work harks back to times when the word ‘celebrity’ had meaning, unlike today when social media or television catapults anyone into the spotlight. When I bring these iconic images into the present I attempt to preserve a sense of those times; by adding splashes or retro-colour or diamond dust to encapsulate the glamour of those eras. With the Elton piece; it was important to strike a balance. I wanted to maintain the identity of Terry’s original photograph whilst adding my own unique vision to the image.
Can you give us some insight into your practice and how you work to transform these iconic images?
I normally start with a photograph. I then strip the image back to its bare-essentials; a blank canvas if you will. I begin by adding layers, building a framework as I go. Later I experiment with color and tone; until I get exactly the right ‘fit’ for the image. I normally spend a lot of time playing around with color.
We think it's wonderful that your work gives a new life and much wider access to these world-renowned images, is it an aspect that you also enjoy?
Once I begin working on the images they take on a new identity of their own, whilst maintaining the essence of the original image. The images metamorphose, constantly evolving on their journey from the past to the present. Whilst I add my own unique modern stamp to each piece, I also want to preserve the glamour and charm of those bygone eras. Watching a B&W photograph evolve into a technicolor screen print can be magical.
Can you let us in on any secret (or not so secret!) David Studwell collectors? Where are you most proud of having your work displayed?
Kate Moss has visited many of my shows and bought numerous pieces. She was very complimentary and seemed to really enjoy the work. George Michael’s cousin also bought some work as well as Nile Rogers. The singer Sheryl Crow bought some of my work only this week.
I did a solo show in North London last year and Liam Gallagher came along, he said he absolutely loved the work! It’s a privilege to sell to major names like this but it’s also great selling to the builder around the corner!
Be sure to check out the print for youself at our Hampstead fair, 10 - 13 May, on ContemporArti's stand (G7). Book your Hampstead fair tickets »
Header image: David Studwell, 'Elton John : Home Run' - Dodger Stadium 1975, Screenprint (5 colours) with diamond dust, 95 x 64cm, edition of 50, prices range from £2,200 for prints signed by David Studwell, to £4,400 for prints signed by Elton John, Terry O'Neill and David Studwell. ContemporArti.
Artwork images from top to bottom: In the studio with David Studwell. Image provided by ContemporArti.
David Studwell, Marilyn Monroe - Pink, Silkscreen print, 90 x 70cm, edition of 2, £950, ContemporArti.
Inside David Studwell's studio. Image provided by ContemporArti.
David Studwell, Steve Mc Queen II, Screenprint, 57 x 45cm, edition of 30, £300, ContemporArti.