PORTRAIT: Alan Walsh Gallery in Monaco
Updated: Apr 16, 2021
Creating enigmatic posters with a stylistic, vintage feel, British print artist, Alan Walsh, takes the French Riviera by storm.
Right along the main road in Fontvieille is the Alan Walsh Gallery, a brand new addition to Monaco’s art scene. The brightly coloured, bold designs are recognisable from a distance, calling the eye and transmitting an instant feeling of cool, chic summer vibes.
After a career in advertising, designing posters for clients such as Grey Goose and Coca Cola and running two successful galleries in Australia, Alan Walsh and his partner Emily, opened a gallery in the principality, the home of his biggest inspiration: the Monaco Grand Prix.
Originally from Harrogate in England, Alan Walsh grew up driving all over Europe for Formula One races with his dad, who was an engineer on an F1 team. He says that it was the endless hours of sitting in cars and colouring that started him on the path of art. The simplistic, brightly coloured cars and the graphic, block-colour designs of Camel, Martini and Dunlop ads fascinated Alan as a young boy. In fact, this still influences his style today. “People often ask me where my colour inspiration comes from,” Alan reveals: “My colour palettes actually come from old Grand Prix cars.”
His most signature style, however - the empty face - came from his first job at an ad agency. Alan recounts having to sketch up storyboards and when he was focused on drawing eyes and facial features, the creative director told him not to waste any time with those details - to just get the concept. “So I just quickly sketched an oval for a face and wisp of hair and I continued to that at any design agency I worked for - and it became my known style.”
Alan’s combination of bold colours and vintage-style graphics is expertly achieved with bright acrylic paints screen printed on heavyweight paper. His technique is so perfect, you’ll be hard-pressed (no pun intended) to find any bleeding or overlapping. However, this extreme precision wasn’t always his MO.
A boyhood dream
Recounting his story, he quickly jumps to his troubles in school, skipping regular lessons to stay in art class and study his favourite artists like Andy Warhol and French illustrators. He credits his grade-school teacher for letting him pursue his particular style, despite it differing from the class curriculum. “As a kid, all I wanted to be was working in a design agency. All I wanted to do was come up with creative ideas. I had no ambition to be a creative director or run teams; I just wanted to fill my creative void.”
His first job was as an assistant at an ad agency, helping out, driving a van to pick up prints and “making a lot of cups of tea,” he jokes. But he loved it.
Today, with big-league clients, lifetime contracts and an extensive private client list, Alan remains a proper Yorkshireman: fun, jovial and doesn’t take himself too seriously. In fact, fun is what propelled him to leave agency life and go off on his own, returning to what he loved as a boy - drawing and designing posters. It’s what allowed him to follow his other dream of moving to the South of France, booking a fab client in Cannes (he is now the official artist for the Martinez Hotel) and continuing new explorations of creative ideas.
Stop by the Alan Walsh Gallery to say hello!
11, Rue Grimaldi, Monaco
- Nicole Ruskell