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ARTIST SHOWCASE: PHIL GALLOWAY

style heavily influenced by a passion and education in Art History, plus a love of mixing up settings, genres and styles through digital painting, has meant one artist has seen his work recognised by millions. Emotive, playful and detailed beyond belief has seen Phil Galloway become a go too for sports captured in the most unique of ways. 

The forty-something, Cheshire based artist has gone on to work for some of the biggest brands and players in sports. Nike, BT Sport, UEFA, Copa 90 and a resident cover artist for the magazine These Football Times, has seen Phil's work become synonymous with some of the biggest players and biggest games.

We caught up with one of industries greats, to hear about his path into painting, love of the game and what he makes of this season's kits and his past favourites.

 

CK: First things first, let's get this one out the way... Who do you support?

PG: It's always been Liverpool as my dad was a huge LFC fan and it passed down to me. Growing up 7 miles from Old Trafford and being a Liverpool fan wasn't the easiest and made own clothes day at school interesting as I was the only one in a Candy top amongst a sea of United red. 

I also have a 'small' team I follow and go to matches when I can and that's my local team 1874 Northwich FC. My mates are all fans so at first it was an excuse for a beer and a night/day out (especially as getting to see Liverpool is so hard as tickets are like gold dust) but I quickly became a fan and was asked to design their away kit a few seasons ago which was a boyhood dream come true. My son also plays for the under 9s team which is great to see the grassroots football coming through.



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CK: What do you think of the Red Men's kit this season?

PG: Liverpool's kits this season are ok, I wouldn't say they are groundbreaking or anything but the home is classic and simple and does the job well, the green and white throwback to the similar 90s kit looks good on the pitch, but I feel it could have been done better and the name placement on the back being so low annoys me.

The purple third kit is quite nice and looks good on fans, it could be a sleeper hit over time but must say I was a tad underwhelmed initially with the away kits, not a patch on kits from the past or some fan designs I've seen online. I like kits to bridge the gap of being classic and smart but also a little bonkers or extravagant. My favourite LFC kit from my childhood and one I wore to death as I fancied myself as a bit of goalkeeper before the goals got bigger and I stayed the same size was Grobbelaar's jersey from 1989-91. The flashes of the home kit coupled with the rich proper goalkeeper green was magic to me.

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CK: Are there any other kits that stand out for you at the moment?

PG: Being an artist and Art Historian I was immediately drawn to the new William Morris inspired Walthamstow FC Football kits, especially the white patterned away. Everything about it is amazing from colour selection, incorporation of the intricate pattern and it being Admiral which brings back many memories of classic kits tops it off. On paper it could have been a car crash but it's beautiful and I need to get it along with the training tracksuit top in the same colourway. (If any of my family are reading this I want it for Christmas)!

In terms of favourite kits overall mine would have to be the Fiorentina 7Up sponsored 1992/93 home kit. Again art history plays a part as I lived in Florence when I was Uni but me and my brother loved this shirt when we were kids and my brother got it back then which I was most jealous of! He totally sorted it out though as a few years back he managed to bag me an original in perfect condition and it takes pride of place in my ever increasing jersey collection.

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CK: We know your work well, but for those that aren't so familiar with your work, can you tell us about some of your standout projects?

PG: I've been fortunate and lucky enough to have quite a few 'pinch yourself' dream projects I've been involved in. Getting to work with Liverpool for their matchday illustrations was incredible, seeing Mo Salah holding a CD cover I painted for Copa 90 was mind blowing. I worked on the 2019 Women's World Cup and that meant a lot to me as up until that point I hadn't illustrated any female footballers and having a daughter I always felt I needed to put that right and I loved how the series of portraits came out. 




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But I think the one that stands out the most was painting the programme cover for the 2022 FA Cup final.

I'd already painted the covers of the two semi-finals so to get to work on the final was a so cool especially as it was the 150 year celebration of the Cup and because Liverpool were in the final. The brief was quite loose as they just wanted the two captains, the Wembley arch and Cup present but in a vintage style so it was right up my street to go researching 1950's football art and paintings and try and capture that classic aesthetic.



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"The person I love to paint it's a tough one as do enjoy painting Salah and all his curly hair, but I think Klopp just pips him as he has such a playful and emotive face which can be painted either realistically or really painterly in odd colors etc and it still just works."


Seeing the programme in the fan's hands at the final was quite emotional for me especially as it was the last big project I worked on before my dad sadly died later that year. Although he couldn't come with me to the final due to ill health, I managed to get him a copy of the programme and he was immensely proud. Plus Liverpool won so overall an amazing experience!!

CK: Is there a particular person or scene you love to paint/draw?

PG: For the person I love to paint it's a tough one as do enjoy painting Salah and all his curly hair, but I think Klopp just pips him as he has such a playful and emotive face which can be painted either realistically or really painterly in odd colors etc and it still just works. I do prefer illustrating him with his glasses though!

For scenes I enjoy when I get asked to paint things in a Renaissance or Baroque style as it's what I specialized in for my degree and I love the rules of composition, the use of light and dark chiaroscuro and overblown drama of the paintings.




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I first got the chance to paint in this manner very early on in my art career for Totti's final Nike boot release, but feel I have honed my technique a bit more recently. A recent favourite of mine is my personal project 'Liverpool Need a Renaissance' which I think sums up my work perfectly. It was a passion project to paint and hopefully conveys the Baroque style along with the emphasis on storytelling through pose, dress and placement of the players.



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CK: What's been the most challenging piece you've worked on?

PG: Ooh there's been a few tough ones, but two spring to mind. My Renaissance inspired World Cup piece for Bleacher Report back in 2018 was a slog as I only had four and half days to sketch, compose and paint the 32 team players. Not much sleep was had over those days but it was totally worth it in the end as it became a huge success for Bleacher going viral online and really springboarded my career and profile forward as an artist who was doing something a little different at the time.




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The other project was the Shed End huge Tifo banner for Chelsea FC and the Shed End fan club. Not only did it consist of hundreds of elements and portraits but knowing it had to blown up to over 30 x 25 metres in size to be unfurled on the stand before matches was a daunting prospect. I had about two weeks to paint it right at the beginning of Covid lockdowns so it was a mad dash to try and mainting quality at that scale but also to get it finished!! Seeing it come out at the beginning of the matches in the Champions League when fans returned to the grounds was a very special moment for me after all the hard work.




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CK: Do you get a lot of requests for private commissions from people?

PG: When I was first starting out as a freelance artist and trying to make ends meet I would take on a lot of private commissions drawing people's pets and grandads etc but I had to slow that up as I got more client work. I still do get the odd request which unfortunately I often have to turn down as I'm often too busy to take them on and would hate to let people down. I've found that I get most requests after I've illustrated the covers of These Football Times for some reason.

I've been lucky enough to have been asked to paint many covers for TFT and every time I get an influx of emails and messages enquiring about personal works and prints. Maybe it's because all my covers for them have been so varied and playful or because each cover deals with a different team and so reaches a new fan base I'm not sure, it's lovely to be asked but I do feel bad saying no.




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CK: What's been the strangest project you have worked on?

PG: Not much shocks me when I first get involved in projects as I think clients know I'm up for a challenge and happy to splice things up, but an odd one was for Sports Direct and Copa 90 and their Eric Cantona advert. Asking to paint Cantona as The Creation by Michelangelo was very cool but not unusual but having to prep the illustration for a tailor to make into a suit lining to be worn by the big man himself certainly wasn't my usual daily work! I never did see the suit or if it was even made but the advert was great, the art was well received and I even managed to sneak a portrait of my son into the composition which he loved!




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CK: Can you tell us what you're working on at the moment?

PG: This year I've been a little quieter on the football front, but have been working more with an American client on NBA and American Football projects. In between this work I've been mainly working on kick-starting my Art Youtube channel again which is art tutorials and vlog style stuff. I've also been trying to develop some book ideas which I'd love to get off the ground. I've got one or two football client commissions in the pipeline for Christmas time but for now I have to keep hush hush.

CK: Where can people follow your work and get in touch?

PG: You can follow me on my website is philgallowaydraws.co.uk X/Twitter, @philthyart , Instagram - @philgallowaydraws Facebook - Phil Galloway Draws | Facebook and do go like and subscribe to my Youtube channel and watch me be an idiot on camera - Phil Galloway Draws - YouTube

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