Passion: “Performing to large audiences in foreign countries or anything impromptu. For example, live television.”
Past Life: “Learnt about business and managed a small team for a global company in the medical insurance sector.”
Nervousness: “A series of shows in Fiji 2008 with up to 3,000 people watching each show, really knocked any nerves that I had once had, out of me for good.”
Favourite Destinations: “My great grandmother is Chinese! Hence my love for performing throughout Asia (and eating their food!)”
Words to live by: Be inspired and become inspirational. This can apply to anyone – from a single mother to a world leader.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE SPEED PAINTER – in his own words.
My first break as an artist was in the annual “Bald Archy” prize. It is a satiral caricature prize. My paintings were published in leading newspapers and magazines in Australia and even featured on Good Morning Australia and Channel 10 news. It was exciting to see people react to a piece of art.
I started out drawing caricatures at corporate events. This talent of drawing people within minutes lead me to being hired by corporate companies both in Australia and NZ. In 2003 I received my first major gig, one month of drawing caricatures throughout China for the large hypermarket chain Carrefour. I think the travelling whilst performing bug really hit me hard.
It was a chance meeting that interested me in magic. I was working at a corporate gig in 2004 where I met fellow performer Australian magician Sean Taylor. I loved the comedy side of magic and so I began learning the secrets of magic as a hobby whilst continuing with my quick sketch caricatures.
It was in 2006 when I first took to the stage. By then I had developed an Art Comedy Magic show where I cut my teeth performing at small corporate dinners. I would draw some large caricatures of people from the audience, perform some simple sleight of hand magic and as a finale to the show, I painted Elvis Presley in about seven minutes which always received a strong ovation. That same year, I did my first major performance. It was in front of 900 people where I opened the International Stars of Magic show with the Elvis painting.
Word began spreading and I was invited onto a new show called Australia’s Got Talent. Initially I was to paint Elvis in four minutes, however, amonth out from the commencement of the new series, I was informed that I had just 90 seconds to complete the painting. I better learn how to paint it quicker!
I was too nervous on Australia’s Got Talent to paint with a brush in both hands. Performing on television for the first time I don’t think I really demonstrated “speed painting”. Looking back on it, I took the safe option painting with the one hand and not upside down as I was really nervous and didn’t want to muck up the painting in front of a live television audience. I’ve always had it in me to to paint with both hands, I guess it is like playing the piano which I have done since I was a child – your left and right hands work on different things at the same time subconciously. After the show I practiced harder, I wanted to be better.
Someone once commented that I was “like Rolf Harris but on steroids!”. I consider this a great compliment, but please don’t ask me to sing with the wobbleboard.
“Rolf Harris probably formulated the whole upside down painting back in the 1970’s. I don’t mind being compared with him, he is an Australian icon. However, my aim is to forge my own path and take the artform to a higher level – today’s
audiences are more demanding wanting things quicker, punchier and amazing”.
It was in 2007 and in 2008 when the events and the venues I performed at became larger. I entertained corporate audiences throughout Australia but also travelled abroad to New Zealand, Fiji and Singapore. I also painted well known people from celebrities (Williams Formula 1 star Nico Rosberg) to prime ministers (Voregq Bainimarama, Fiji PM) to racing cars (Orrcon Racing/Ford Australia) to Asian CEO’s (Great Eastern Insurance, Daikin etc).
My nerves became cured in Fiji. Performing over 8 days at their large “Showcase Festival”, I did shows for up to 3,000 people twice a day. If that couldn’t cure nervesnous than nothing could. I also did a lot of improv there, which means I worked totally unscripted. I continue to work totally unscripted to this day – it’s better to connect with the audience this way.
Television, especially live television can be an adrenelin rush. I’ve performed on quite a few shows including Mornings with Kerry Anne, The Shak, Saturday Disney, The Music Jungle and The Morning Show. I’ve also been on TV in Fiji and Singapore. Quite often they get me to speed paint a portrait of the host of the show in four minutes, often with a clock counting down the time.
It feels good raising money for genuine charities. The idea is that people get swept away by the show and then purchase the artwork that I have produced for the particular charity. It has worked a treat with a number of the large glitsy charity gala events.
During 2009, I did some really exciting product launches. I performed at the BMW Z4 launch in Melbourne, the Tampines 1 launch in Singapore, the Sydney City Marine launch and corporate shows for a new drug launched by Astellas Pharma in San Francisco. I like nothing more than putting on a show where I can involve some type of magic or flair, just to heighten the excitement and that is exactly what I did during these launches.
I’ve come up with two new shows called “The Art of Music” and “Magic on Canvas”. It’s taking what I do one step further with a dance troupe and never before seen art and magic illusions. I love the idea of mixing art and magic. For instance – I do a piece of artwork, it’s a bunch of shapes to the naked eye. I spin the canvas 360 degrees and a face is revealed. Then with a click of a finger, apart of the painting comes to life – whether the eyes blink or another effect occurs. It’s like a magical twist that no-one is expecting.
I would love to work in a really huge production one day. I’m constantly doing large corporate events around the globe now, but my goal one day is to headline a big production in a casino somewhere. Performing in the US in 2009 and then going to Vegas really inspired me. They do things on a big scale and that is exactly where I want to take this.