Self Made – Alan Coulson

Some people stand out. You notice them in town or waiting outside school when you go to collect the kids. With stylish clothes, ever present rolled wool watch cap and ginger beard Alan Coulson is one of those people. Then one day you spot him in the park. This time he’s on a skateboard and not just looking after children, he’s skating the bowl.

Working from a studio, in an old Wesleyan chapel, on the hills above Hebden Bridge, Alan is an internationally renowned portrait painter. His art is regularly exhibited in the UK and US. He didn’t go to art college and no one trained him to do what he does. He started a university degree in art but dropped out and went to work in fashion retail. He loved to paint though and eventually was noticed. His break came in 2012 when he was awarded third place at the prestigious BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery London. As the most important exhibition of contemporary portrait painting in the world this was kind of a big deal. The commissions started to come from private collectors and the likes of The Sunday Times and The New York Times.

We found out what he does for a living when the photo below showed up on the Instagram thread of @honestthomas_ who makes our most excellent Garrison Belt. Tommy wrote the following to go with the picture.

“This is Alan and me. Huge congratulations to @alancoulsonartist on getting his insane portrait into the National Portrait Gallery this summer. I still remember opening his seedy email talking about hats, beards, paintings and cameras. However I’m glad I didn’t report him, as he turns out to be one of the most gifted, pleasant, chilled characters I know.”

After the ’seedy’ approach Alan met up with Tommy, photographed him and then went to work in his studio. The end result was so impressive that it was selected from 2,580 entries by artists from 87 countries around the world for the 2017 BP Portrait Award. It was also used as the main promotional image for the exhibition. All over London Tommy was looking down on commuters on the Tube and from gigantic banners hung outside the National Portrait Gallery.

We were so impressed with the portrait, that when Alan released the oil painted original as a print, we bought one straight away. Tommy now looks down on us in our warehouse come office unit, his ever present eye encouraging us to take care of the details. The original oil painting has been sold to a private collector.

Collecting the print from Alan gave us the chance to visit his studio and see some completed portraits as well as works in progress. As you can see from the photos his work is incredible, the detail staggering.

As we were chatting Alan said that he’d like to paint a portrait of us and asked us if he could take a few photos. Usually we are shy and retiring chaps who don’t like being the centre of attention, but we agreed. Joking aside, this is a real honour and we can’t wait to see how the portrait evolves.

Tommy was right about Alan, he’s a really lovely down to earth guy who has done what he wants to do with his life. We also think that he looks great in our 1485 Wool Jacket.

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