Making the transition into a new phase of our lives is always a challenging proposition. Even in our professions, attachments get made, bonds are formed, and none of these connections are easily severed. Sometimes, it can take years. Ask Phil Hale.
Phil worked as an illustrator early on in his young career, and that wasn’t something he set out to do. After being mentored by his friend, artist Rick Berry, moving the paintbrush for art directors just sort of happened. A “validation thing”, he says in our talk. And yet, it didn’t go unrewarded. His clients, we’re sure, must have been happy with his work. They continued to give him assignments. And his name became a very popular one amongst art collectors as well as fans. But in his time doing illustration, Phil grew weary of it and longed for other things.
Over the course of the next decade or so, his career focus shifted from working illustrator to working portrait painter. As it turns out, Phil comes from a long line of artists, specifically portrait artists, on both sides of his family tree. And his own work in this field received international notoriety in 2007, when he was commissioned by the House of Commons to paint a portrait of (then) Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
These days, however, if you wanna see a new Phil Hale image, don’t look for it on a book cover or in some portrait gallery. Your best bet is to seek out his next gallery show either here or abroad. Phil has fully and finally returned to personal work and he’s all the better for it. In a recent email exchange I had with him, he did share that while his exodus from illustration has been on-going, he still loves it. But judging from the breadth and depth of his personal work, clearly, he’s right where he should be.
*Our conversation with Phil covers some of his background, his friendship with Rick Berry, his thoughts about picture-making, and his plans to attend Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! this summer as one of its special guests.
The image above is an old fave (Swampy), and the one below is an example of Phil's newer work.