Global screen debut for an artist dubbed ‘iPad Picasso’

Roz Hall, who has created iPad drawings that are being exhibited around the world
Roz Hall, who has created iPad drawings that are being exhibited around the world

A DIGITAL artist, dubbed the ‘iPad Picasso’ has his portraits of local characters starring in a worldwide exhibition.

Roz Hall, who compares his technique to ‘finger painting’, admits the thought of his work on display at Apple stores in London, Toyoko and beyond is ‘mad’.

Emma Hall, English and creative writing graduate from the University of Chichester and Roz's wife

Emma Hall, English and creative writing graduate from the University of Chichester and Roz's wife

“I have seen a photo of my work in Japan and New York – a city I’ve long been obsessed with,” he said.

“Just knowing my artwork is up in Times Square and Fifth Avenue is amazing.”

Roz, who lives near Bury, caught Apple’s attention following national press coverage of his work, which led them to commission him for this campaign.

“I think that Apple were keen to show that you can be creative, and that what you create is more important than the device.”

Portrait of Greg, an English student at the University of Chichester

Portrait of Greg, an English student at the University of Chichester

The brief asked Roz, who works at the University of Chichester, to focus on what inspires him as an artist so he turned to the people around him.

“I walked around the campus to start off with. But I couldn’t tell them who the client was – I signed my life away in secrecy.”

With five days to complete five portraits, time was tight.

Alongside Roz, his wife Emma and university students Dan and Greg, one more subject was needed.

Portrait of Dan, a fine art student at the University of Chichester

Portrait of Dan, a fine art student at the University of Chichester

That person was Aida Stephens, owner of Whipped and Baked near Priory Park in Chichester.

“I got to know him on Twitter,” said Aida.

“Months later he asked if I would be interested in having my photos taken for a commission he had taken on. You can imagine how gobsmacked I was when I received his email revealing who the client was.”

On the day the photograph was taken Aida says she had been up since 5am baking, was covered in flour and scowling as the sun was in her eyes.

Roz Hall's self portrait on an iPad

Roz Hall's self portrait on an iPad

But Aida admits she ‘instantly loved and struggled’ with the resulting artwork.

“The image is neither feminine, genteel, glamorous or pretty. But you know what, I looked disarmingly formidable and solid and present. And that’s pretty amazing.”

The pieces, which combine an age-old artform with modern technology, have had a mixed reaction.

“I think we are all guilty of it, we will see an amazing painting and go ‘oh wow!’ Then, you look closer and say oh, it’s digital...”

“There are people that see it as cheating and I can understand it.

“But what I am not doing – nor are most of the digital painters – is pressing a button to make an effect happen.”

For each of the critics Roz says ‘there are people who are intrigued by it’.

“There is a barrier people put in front of traditional art, expensive canvas, paints what they are mixing it with.

“Whereas all I am doing is I have an iPad, and most households have one or a tablet, and I have downloaded an application which cost around £2.

“It makes people want to try it,” he said. “But I still think it is important you have played with paint, got it under your fingernails – that mess making is important.”

Even without this element Roz says the iPad process is very tactile.

“It makes me think of the cave painters rubbing their hands on the walls. And in fact, for all of us, our first experience of painting is sticking our finger in paint.”

The iPad’s appeal is it is less messy and time consuming – two qualities which drew Roz to the technology.

“I have a full time job, I have two children, I am lucky if I get an hour in the evening to see my wife,” he said, “I got to a point where traditional painting wasn’t open to me anymore.”

An article in a digital magazine showcased what tablet technology could allow artists to do and Roz reveals ‘that magazine made me want to paint again.’

So Roz embarked on a masters, which he completed last year, accompanied by his ‘studio which fits in my bag’.

The portraits are due to be on show until the end of February. For more information about the work and where they can be found at www.rozhall.com