Patrick Church has been on our radar for a while. His paintings first caught our attention a couple of years ago where we’d often see his portraits of Marc Jacobs or Donatella Versace painted on leather jackets while scrolling down our social media accounts. Attention grabbing personalities on their own rights, Patrick made them larger than life via the use of exaggerated facial features. In particular, popping eyes and voluptuous lips, two feats that make his work instantly recognizable.
His new Fall/Winter 2018 collection, Lonely Road, which he has just showcased during New York Fashion Week, sees Patrick take his painting into an even more personal territory, successfully bridging the worlds of art and fashion together. Distancing away from solely using second-hand and vintage garments to paint on, the collection focuses on constructing his own fabric panels.
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Use three words to describe your work and yourself?
I’d say that I’m very headstrong, fun and sensitive.
How does living in New York differ from London? Has there been a change in your art since you moved?
I feel like the pace is much faster in New York City, people work really hard here. My work has always been personal and explores love and identity, but since moving from London, I have been influenced by my surroundings. In fact, the idea of the American Dream is a topic I am exploring right now. Also, my husband lives with me and he is such a huge source of inspiration, so I guess that kind of has an impact on anything I’m creating. Being able to explore and experiment freely whilst having his support is incredible.
You mention your husband as an inspiration. Are there any other things that inspire your work?
People inspire me. In particular those that are a little bit ridiculous and over-the-top. People who are confident, sure of themselves, and comfortable in their own skin. I used to be obsessed with glamorous women and they were pretty big for me, especially when I was younger – my mother in particular. I used to love staring at her whilst she sat at her dressing table with her Chanel makeup and dressed in Versace or Louis Vuitton.
But ultimately, my work is inspired by and is about love. It is a constant recurring theme featured on everything I produce. I often feature people that I love or that have in some way shaped who I am and have resonated with me somehow. Love is what fuels everything.
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You’ve developed a very distinct style. Big lips and eyes are one of the defining characteristics in your portraits. Where did this come from and how did it develop to what it is?
Everything I paint is exaggerated, just like the people I am drawn to. Subconsciously, I feel like I am always painting myself one way or another. Because it’s so personal, I often connect with my subject on such an intimate level that sometimes I feel as though my gender identity gets blurred. I don’t know exactly where my technical style came from, it just happened organically. I create a fantasy world where I want the people I paint to become a part of it.
A lot of the garments you paint on are either vintage or second-hand. You also use faux fur, so there’s an eco-friendly approach to what you do. Is this a conscious decision? What are your thoughts on fast fashion?
Most of the garments I produce are custom pieces commissioned by clients. It’s a collaboration between them and myself to create something unique and one-of-a-kind pieces. I understand the business of fast fashion but it’s not what I am or want to be about. Nothing I put out is mass-produced, at the most I have considered printing pieces instead of drawing, but this would take away from the nature of my work. Everything is hand-painted, even down to the labels, so it’s very personal. It’s important to keep that feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness. For example, I am currently working with a dressmaker in painting panels of fabric directly before having them made into garments.
What is the favourite piece you’ve ever been commissioned to paint? And how do you find a balance between maintaining your creative freedom and pleasing a client? Has it ever been an issue?
My favourite commissioned painting was a massive mural at one of my clients’ houses.  I love working on a larger scale and getting lost in the work. Then, there was painting a Birkin bag; it felt so good to work on something considered to be so luxurious. I wouldn’t really paint anything I didn’t believe in. The creation of every artwork is a very personal and sacred process to me, I wouldn’t want to ruin the feeling I have when I am drawing or painting and compromise my work.
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Highlight of your career so far and why?
Definitely, being stocked at Opening Ceremony. It was so exciting seeing my pieces inside the store!
How do you decide what story to tell through each painting? Are they personal or of people around you?
They’re often personal. However, I am always fascinated by other people and the stories they have to tell. Almost always they weave their way into my work. Not everything is about me. I love hearing other people’s struggles, successes and desires.
Collaborations are essential nowadays for any artist. We recently saw some of your pieces on a music video by Detox from Rupaul’s Drag Race. How did this come about? Are there any other brands or artists you would love to collaborate with?
She looks incredible and we’ve been in touch for a while, so it just kind of happened, she’s amazing. There are a few really exciting things coming up. Wait and see! I would love to collaborate with Gucci because they are everything, but I am honestly open to collaborating with almost anyone or anything I believe in. My work can adapt and be taken into many different avenues and tell many stories. It is exciting as an artist to collaborate and share concepts and ideas with others.
Your new collection is called Lonely Road. What was the inspiration behind it? What can we expect?
The past year has been one of a lot of changing and adapting on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. It’s called Lonely Road because all through its creation I used to visualize the same thing in my head: I saw myself walking down a road in the middle of nowhere, strong and powerful heading somewhere great. So it’s all about walking into your future and empowering yourself. 
Aside from the fashion industry, are there any other industries or formats you might want to explore in the future?
I have never really thought of myself as a fashion designer. I am an artist. I’d love to travel more to gather new experiences and expand my horizons where my art is concerned.
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