Yorkshire artist Alister Colley's latest work at Zeitgeist Fine Art gallery

PUBLISHED: 13:41 10 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:20 20 February 2013

Yorkshire artist Alister Colley's latest work at Zeitgeist Fine Art gallery

Yorkshire artist Alister Colley's latest work at Zeitgeist Fine Art gallery

And yellow, blue, green and pink. Prodigious North Yorkshire artist Alister Colley tells Jo Haywood about his latest collection

Alister Colleys latest paintings might concentrate on the industrial nitty-gritty (usually more gritty than nitty) of his native Yorkshire, but his work is now taking him around the globe.

The first 10 paintings of his new City Life collection were inspired by trips to Bradford Industrial Museum and Hebden Bridge, but the next, due to be released later in the year, take on the vastly different cityscapes of New York and Chicago.

Here in Yorkshire I was struck by the way villages had been consumed by industry and drawn into the cities, he explained. The New York and Chicago paintings, on the other hand, came from feedback from American visitors to my exhibitions. A lot of artists are quite shy, but Im a bit of an extrovert. I love talking to people who come to look at my paintings, to find out what they like and what they feel.

Americans who saw my work kept telling me I should paint their country. As soon as they said it, it clicked with me. It was a comfortable fit from day one.

The Harrogate-born artist, who now works out of an open studio in Pateley Bridge, has something of a dual personality when it comes
to his paintings. In his heart, hes a fine artist, but in his head, hes a businessman. This means that he relishes the act of being creative in different countries Australia is next on his hit list while also making the most of a wider buying audience.

Im not embarrassed about looking for opportunities to expand the market, he said. Its easy for an artist to find a comfortable niche and stay there. Youd be surprised how many people are content with painting cows for years at a time. But that goes against everything I stand for as an artist. I want my ideas and my business to be constantly evolving.

Alisters evolution from up-and-coming artist to best-selling painter began in 2008 when Yorkshire Life featured his work. After that article, the phone never stopped ringing.

I was inundated with inquiries from people who wanted to see his work immediately, said his wife Claire, who co-founded their businesses: The Fine Art Publishing Company and Zeitgeist Fine Art. The next exhibitions totally sold out and I found myself making numerous bookings for him. It was an extraordinary response.

Within a year Alisters work was being distributed all over the world and he was on his way to becoming one of the fastest-selling artists in the UK.
Its been bewildering, he said. Everything has really escalated since that first Yorkshire Life article.

It was reward enough to know that I could do what I love professionally, but for my paintings to be so well received is humbling. I am so grateful to those people who like the look of my paintings as much as I like to create them.

He is now hoping to sign up other fledgling artists in the next two years, with the express aim of helping them to spread their wings and fly. But that doesnt mean his own artistic wings will have to be clipped. He is not an artist who paints to live; he lives to paint.

I still get a real buzz out of what I do, said Alister. I am so lucky that I can still walk the streets of the fictitious world I have mapped out in my head and transport the buildings I know and love there.

Its always the buildings and not the people that do it for me. People come and go, but buildings stand the test of time. It might not be obvious at first but I have been strongly influenced by Japanese wood cuts, where the buildings are everything and the people are insignificant.

For more information about Alister Colley go to www.zeitgeistfineart.com

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