Pop Art Portraits of Rappers and Ballers: Meet Rinat Shingareev

Rinat Shingareev is an artist that melds the worlds of contemporary art and classic portraiture. The self-proclaimed "Best Artist Alive" has been featured internationally on the covers and within the pages of magazines like Maxim, GQ, Forbes, and more. His subjects include folks like Drake, Kanye West, Richard Branson, Pharrell, and Mark Zuckerberg, just to name a few.

We spoke with the artist and in addition to opening up about his classic and modern influences, Rinat also shares what he aims to accomplish by presenting his work in the way that he has.

How long have you been painting? When and how did you get started?
I don't know when I decided to start painting, but I can say with confidence that from the very beginning I had an idea to create something great and special that could change the world. With my work, I set out to make an indelible mark and leave my name etched in history. I came to the conclusion that I would be able to achieve this thanks to my artistic talent, will, and desire. If painting hadn't been my discipline of choice, I would have become a writer or musician. In any case, I would need some way to release my creative energy.

What is the process like when it comes to selecting your subjects?
The main purpose of my art is the desire to transmit the spirit of my era through the portraits of famous people who have achieved the highest heights in sports, music, politics, and other spheres of activity. So I always choose actual, interesting, and bright characters, talented and special people, which happen to be the major figures of our time. How else could you capture these moments in history if not through figures who are so popular among ordinary people?! It also helps that many of them possess a fantastic charisma, which gives even more magic to my work.

How long does a piece usually take you to complete?
In a year, I create about twenty works. I'd say one painting takes me from two to three weeks, but it all depends on the complexity and size of the canvas.

Your work is a mixture of Pop art and classic portraiture, can you speak on that a bit?
I think that my interest in Pop Art came about during the years of study while at the academy in Italy. In Russia, all my artistic education was focused only on classical art, where there is a particular set of limits and additionally severe rules. Pop Art was, for me, a real revelation! It is an artistic movement full of freedom where you can realize and present the boldest ideas. The art is interesting precisely because it is varied and unlimited. My inspirations range from Bacon and Warhol to Raphael and Michelangelo. With these being my influences, I can create work with modern and classical twists. Overall, I think that my work reflects my love for the maniacal detail and grace of classical art in addition to the boundless forms of self-expression of modern art. I would call myself the new Andy Warhol, wishing to reach the level of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Are there any other mediums you enjoy working with other than oils?
At the moment, I have painted over a hundred portraits, having been able to execute my most courageous and original ideas. With each new work, I create, for myself, a more complex challenge and I've always been able to execute it thanks to a lot of practice with oil painting. For me, it's the most convenient and universal material which gives you unlimited possibilities in technical terms. I also experiment with other materials, but I didn't reach a desirable result with them.

As an artist can you describe the feeling you get when you see your work displayed in magazines?
Naturally it gives you pleasure when your works are published by magazines like GQ, Maxim, Forbes, Zeit and others. I would consider these small achievements because these magazines have such a huge audience which allows you to present your art to readers from around the world. Promotion of this kind opens up new opportunities and helps you to find new clients. I believe that if you are talented and create something unique, every person on the earth should know your name, and then from there they can decide to love you or to ignore you.

Have you or would you like to transition to having your work in galleries?
Yes, of course, in the past I have regularly collaborated with various galleries, but at the moment all my attention is concentrated on my big personal exhibition.

Have there been any instances where your subjects reached out to purchase your work?
Some subjects featured in my paintings have contacted me to acquire their portraits. Generally they were businessmen and even some politicians. Later on I went on to take on some commissioned work for some of them.

You can check out more of Rinat Shingareev's work by heading over to his official blog.

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