It’s all motorbike and a beard down to his belt when you first meet South African artist Jimmy Law. Known forhis expressive portraits and nudes, you’d never think this big, burly guy is responsible for the beautifully-detailed artworks you see on this page.
Originally from Bloemfontein, after school Jimmy decided to enrol in a three-year Graphic Design Diploma course at the Technicon of the Orange Free State. After his studies, Jimmy was conscripted for National Service in the South African National Defence Force for one year.
Once he was discharged Jimmy moved to Cape Town and found work at a printing company in Woodstock. “This was my first job. I tried my hand at several endeavours, ranging from clothing design to manufacturing surfboards, but none of them were really successful.” Eventually Jimmy managed to find work as a freelance illustrator in the comic book industry. All the while painting in his spare time.
It wasn't until 2008 that Jimmy decided to focus entirely on his painting. “The first year was extremely tough, I made no money. I also took up airbrushing and started spraying motorcycles for extra money—this is where Jimmy’s passion for Harley-Davidson began.
At the time, Jimmy was painting in a photo realistic style which he says was very time-consuming and each work took him forever to complete. “I was very accomplished as a realistic painter, technically my work was great, but my work was stagnant. It lacked energy.”
“Then in December 2010 I radically changed the approach to my painting style by using only large brushes which initiated some remarkable changes and effectively started my career as a serious, full-time artist. When working in my new-found expressive style, it often creates rather bold, energetic and dramatic images.”Jimmy started out painting portraits of Hollywood actors, celebrities and icons, focusing on the ones he loves most. But also actors with a classic look and feel to them, actors like James Dean, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe to name but a few.
He’s since moved onto doing more personal work, focusing on creating portraits of completely unknown people. “I also use my own models to create more personal work with a deeper message. I feel that it is a lot easier for me to create the look and feel that I want when using my own models.”
Jimmy says he constantly challenges himself in his paintings. “While I feel confident in the style that I now work in, I will keep introducing new ways and techniques of pushing this style forward and developing it even further,” says Jimmy.