Neil Slater | Born 1965. Bolton, Lancs | Educated, Hayward Grammar School.
In 1998, one woman liked her picture so much that she got married to me!
I’ve always drawn pictures. One of my earliest memories is drawing at our kitchen table aged about 3 and my cousin laughing because I’d drawn a dot for a nose! (I don’t do that these days…usually)
But I never really thought about trying to make a drawing to resemble someone’s face until I was about ten years old.
It was a lovely summers day in Affetside, Lancashire when some friends and I were allowed some drawing time in the classroom. I’d been watching Kojak on the telly and decided to draw him. As I started to draw his features, to my amazement a likeness began to appear…until, “it looks like him!” I cried out joyously. Sure enough, Tele Savalas was staring up at us from the piece of paper. To ensure it wasn’t a fluke, I went on to draw my friend, Tim, which also looked satisfactory to my young eyes.
From then on I was hooked. Practically all my family, friends, teachers ever since became my usually unknowing models. I didn’t really think of the drawings as caricatures until much later when I realised that I’d always unconsciously noticed things about peoples features and expressions, even before I’d started drawing faces and that I naturally exaggerate those things in my work.
I still draw the same way today; I think about the person and the pen does the rest.
The only art lessons I ever had were the ones in school, where we never did faces or caricature – except in my rough book when the teachers weren’t looking!
I left school at 16. Not thinking I would ever make a living doing faces, I worked in all kinds of jobs until I was 23. I left my job at the council and decided to spend the rest of the summer season in Corfu where a friendly bar owner let me set up outside with my primitive stall (an easel and two of his plastic chairs). I would give him a cut of the takings each night which he would throw in the staff tips bucket.
The next year, I decided to try to make drawing my living and went full time. When I came to York in February 1993 I was amazed by the number of people and the happy atmosphere.. I didn’t realise it was half term!
So I applied for, and was put on the waiting list for a street trading license which I got in the May.
The rest as they say is history, this August, it will be thirty years as an artist. I must have drawn some 70,000 people or so (and animals!) Recently, a man came to the stall, I recognised him straight away as the first person I ever drew at my street stall back in 1993! I remember he was waiting for his bus at the time.
I really like it when people come back again. Some people have me draw them and their families many times over the years, sometimes three or four generations – I’d like to give them a big thank you!
I do prefer to draw people from real life, that way I can really get someone’s character. If that’s not possible, a photo can be the next best thing.
In 2006 I illustrated the book, ‘My First Car’ by Christopher Crew. It was a collection of celebrities recounting the stories of their first cars. I drew every person mentioned.
Here is a review from the time (I don’t think it was that Richard Branson!)
5.0 out of 5 stars Don’t delay, Pre-order YOUR copy here today…I have!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 August 2006
W O W / Amazing! Those were the first words that entered my mind whilst newly scanning this premier book. At the time of writing this review, said book still has yet to be released…So, just how can I safely advise this fresh title for a worthy purchase..? Well it’s like this…You see, I work in the literature publishing industry, and therefore have been privileged enough to be granted a sneaky peek at a ‘pre-view’ draft copy!
The very first thing that strikes you is the endearing ‘My First Car’ insignia/logo, as with the rest of this tome(60 pages!), everything is vibrantly attractively presented, and easy to navigate. As you begin to read, realisation soon hits home that this volume isn’t simply only Chris Crew’s first car story, it’s much, much more than that…I’ll explain why now – From contacts within my profession, I have derived some interesting information regarding the author…Apparently he struggles with sever dyslexia. Not allowing this misfortune to stand in his way, he’s actually gone about writing to literally hundreds of the UK’s ‘Great and the Good’.
As part of the proceeds will be going to a British dyslexia charity, the numerous celebrities involved have been only too happy contributing their first car stories. I was quite truthfully staggered seeing all these A-list ‘celebs’ openly reminisce about days gone by…They honestly provide a rare glimpse into their lives before fame came knocking, and offers good clean entertaining reading/viewing for ALL the family…The reason I mention ‘viewing’ as well is thanks to all the brilliant cartoons/caricatures displayed, clearly illustrating the time and thought invested producing such a quality publication!(Obviously, photo’s and informing biographies accompany)
After all this rambling on, I haven’t yet disclosed one single luminary included…They hail from all walks of life, and I can now exclusively reveal a limited selection teaser – – –
‘Big-Wigs’:- Montagu(Lord), James Callaghan(Lord/Ex PM), George Carey, Michael Grade, Bernard Matthews…
Actors:– Judi Dench, Bernard Cribbins, Sally Lindsay, Richard Thorp, June Whitfield, Colin Baker, Linda Bellingham, Ken Farrington, Mollie Sugden, Jerome Flynn, Kaye Wragg, Burt Kwouk…
Comedians:- Tony Hancock, Ronnie Barker, Eric Morecambe, Ian Carmichael, Frank Carson, Bernard Manning, Alexei Sayle, Brian Conley, Joe Pasquale…
Entertainers:- Anne Robinson, Bruce Forsyth, Chris Tarrant, Julian Lloyd Webber, Derek Fowlds, Ainsley Harriott, Paul Daniels, Jono Coleman, Anthea Turner, Dominic Littlewood…
Other note-worthies:- Chris Bonington, Pam Ayres, Richard Pitman, Harry Carpenter, Pat Moss, Eric Knowles, Henry Sandon, Jeremy Vine, Tommy Walsh, Paul Burrell, Charles Ingram, Edwina Currie…
Phew! And that’s only the beginning, just try imagining who else will make the final cut..?..Although, I’m absolutely positive there’s more than enough already! In conclusion then, even if you don’t drive and have no interest in cars whatsoever, this fantastic book still has a lot to offer…
Humorous, engaging, fascinating, enlightening even, these are but a few words that easily could be genuinely applied to Chris Crew’s FIRST book – ‘My First Car’
‘You’ve all done very well’ (o;}Richard Branson