Hyper-realistic portraits highlighting the unnerving immortality of good versus evil. June 17 2017

"VS" explores a body of character relationships, amusing, fierce and at times unnerving, all in all enthralling and engaging. These pairings include heroes and villains, sports rivalries to co-workers. Through showcasing the partnership of good and evil, it begs the question of the mortality of this relatable conflict. Could life exist without good or evil?

Stephen Doan is a Melbourne based illustrator, tattooist, graphic designer and failed breakdancer. Best known for his hyper-realistic stylised portraiture work, Stephen's tattooing influences have also armed him with a more loose - graphic approach to his image making. With a strong interest in low brow art, 80's paraphernalia and tattoo culture, coupled with a graphic design background this has enabled him to explore other subject matters with the same sensibility and eye for composition.

We had a chat with Stevie in the lead up to his show to uncover the process behind his intricately detailed artworks, his current fascination with the relationship of good versus evil, and how his current body of work speaks to that.

How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it?
Mixed medium portrait illustrations.

Why is your work the way it is - how’d you get it to this point?
For as long as I can remember drawing has been something I've always done, fortunately it was something that was also encouraged by my parents which allowed me to hone in on my abilities growing up. I became particularly drawn to portraits early on, I think capturing someone's expression and emotion was something I found both challenging and rewarding. I always joke about "making my mistakes look good" but at the core of it, I'm probably more of a perfectionist and I try really hard...


Your background is in graphic design - could you talk about how this has influenced your work?
Having that background has shaped my work in a number of ways, my planning process, getting ideas down, thumb nailing, as well as a more guided sense of composition and layout, in a lot of ways that has pushed me to embrace negative space more. 

Tell us about the process of creating your artworks?
Usually it involves a lot of researching of references, this includes a lot of thinking probably a bit too much haha. I will then map about the pieces, slowly fleshing them, pull out some hair make cups of tea, keep fleshing them out until its at a point where I decide  I've had enough or my wife tells me "I think you can stop now.."

What are the main mediums you work with?
Mainly pencil and ink, but for this body of work i've also decided to introduce paint into my work.


You have an exhibition coming up at Outre Gallery, what are exploring through the works in this exhibition ?
I do yes, the show is titled "VS" for versus, which explores a series of character relationships, pairings, rivalries, some from characters I grew up idolising along with some more current references.

Could you speak in more detail about one of the works within this exhibition?
All of the pieces I've chosen represent to me a strong dynamic or notable chemistry. Half are drawn in blue, half in red, the idea being that one side is positive/good, and the other negative/evil... however this isn't necessarily the case for all of them. The colours serve more as a legend to distinguish two halves! In the case of the Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant pairing, I initially drew them with the intention of depicting their rivalry from their hallmark WWF 80's showdown..in hindsight I would've preferred to have swapped the colours over so that Andre was conveyed as the more positive half of the two. this after thought was based more on their personalities outside of the ring.

What is your personal reaction to this new series of work?
Well I think relief would be my first reaction, mainly due to the multiple times my two year old son almost single handedly destroyed everything...lol

Words by Nicola Mitchell.


249 Elizabeth Street Melbourne
Exhibition running from JUNE 30 to JULY 9
Opening night, Friday June 30 from 6pm to 8pm.
Drinks Provided by Feral Brewing.
Facebook event here