Art & DesignFashion

Patrick Church: The British Artist Hand-Painting Vintage Fashion

Patrick Church is quickly building momentum, having recently relocated from London to New York City to focus on his rising independent brand. The queer talent’s work bridges art with fashion, as he hand-paints existing articles of clothing, from leather jackets to vintage denim and full suits—one-of-a-kind looks already worn by names like Parker Kit Hill and Kyle Farmery.

His first collection, out now, underlines Church’s flamboyant, femme perspective. A topless woman is featured throughout, her eyes widely exaggerated and her makeup smeared. She’s crying on several pieces and surrounded by statements like “Dirty Girl” on others. It’s campy and playful, especially when painted onto lace gowns and patched onto hot pink faux fur coats.

Sex impacts Church’s debut, with its outlined blow-jobs and fully naked figures. The artist describes this work as “romantic,” inspired by his husband and the natural body. Briefs have painted faces on the crotch with phrases like “Hold Me So Close” and “I Visit You In My Dreams” printed on them. Fringed leather chaps show nude men kissing and eating ass. These erotic illustrations look like graphic shapes until you get close.

With hundreds of original pieces available to buy online, we caught up with Church to learn more about his practice.

OUT: What’s your earliest memory with fashion and art? 

Patrick Church: In England as a child, I remember watching my mother and auntie dress up for these parties they would host. I was so obsessed by the ritual and how glamorous they were. I was always encouraged to create. There is a VHS from a fashion show I put on at 13 where I created the clothes, painted the backdrops and set it to music. I really fell in love with painting when my high school art teacher encouraged me to develop my own style.

Art school wasn’t for me, and I wanted experiences. I’m a stubborn person. I didn’t like the idea of being told what to do, so I decided to do my own thing and move to Paris. I found the independence I needed and things evolved creatively. I painted on leather pieces in the past and sold at a couple of independent shops in London and Paris, but this is my first collection. After meeting my husband and being in New York it felt like the right time.

Patrick Church in his own design (Photography: Fernando Palafox)

What came first? Art or fashion?

I see myself as an artist first, but fashion has given me such a big platform to showcase my work. As I’ve explored both of these avenues further I realize how fulfilling and exciting fashion can be. Sourcing garments, building stories to create a narrative, watching them come to life photographed on models… I find the process really romantic. Now I feel as though they are totally entwined within my work. I can’t imagine one without the other. I like that I can have a lot of fun with it.

What are you inspired by? 

I am heavily influenced by strong exaggerated characters—people with larger than life personalities. I would rather someone have a lot of bad taste than be too vanilla. Feelings and experiences really influence the work I am making. I like to collect a lot of fashion magazines and use the images in those as references.

There’s a lot of messaging throughout your work, such as “Nasty Girl.” How do you decide on these statements? 

For this collection, I liked the idea of exploring powerful women, and painting a lot of female nudes. It was about creating a specific character. The words add depth and personality to the pieces I make. I don’t try to think about it because somehow the intention makes things feel less truthful.

Patrick Church in his own design (Photography: Fernando Palafox)

How did fashion become a part of your practice? 

I did a couple of DJ gigs in London with a friend and when I had nothing to wear I decided to paint onto one of my leather jackets. Someone with a store in London saw one of them and decided to stock a few. They sold out almost immediately. From then on, I just decided to have fun with it and let it become a natural progression. I really love painting and drawing onto canvas and paper, but fashion has been a way for me to expand the world I create and take the ideas in my head to a different level to create a moment.

What’s the process for creating your garments?

Most of the garments are vintage. The process of sourcing and discovering abandoned piecesm, and building a story is one of my favorite parts of the process. I have always loved collecting unique and special vintage items, but making original garments is something I plan to experiment with in the near future.

Patrick Church in his own design (Photography: Fernando Palafox)

How do you hope your work contributes to queer culture? 

It was never my intention to speak to a specific audience. I think people just see themselves within my work and have related to my confidence in exploring who I am. I try not to put too much pressure on who can experience my work. I don’t think of a specific audience, I just want to empower someone that wears one of my pieces or looks at one of my paintings.

How does sexuality affect your art? 

My work has always explored the body. I’ve normally made sexual work when I’m not having sex. It’s the idea of sex I find fascinating, and I like to think I explore sexuality in a romantic way. My work is about romance, because I am married and head over heels in love, but my most recent works have been a series of nudes of my husband. They are explicit, yet so delicate and the juxtaposition of this really resonates with me.

You also create custom work. What’s your dream canvas to paint on? 

I want to paint more murals for people all over the world, and to collaborate with Gucci.

For more information on Patrick Church, visit patrickchurchartist.com.

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