Without an art degree — or even a high school degree — Brooklyn-based artist Wayne Pate has come a long way since he first moved to New York at the age of 22.
Inspired by the bold graphics of New York City artists Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Jean Basquiat, Pate had always gravitated to art as his trade. When he moved to the city a friend got him a job at an ad agency, which led to a successful career as a freelance graphic designer working with well-known clothing companies such as GAP, J. Crew and Nautica.
"Art was really all I knew," Pate said. "It's what I've always relied on."
In 2006, Pate made a slight change in his career.
"It got to the point where my work had no value, it was so disposable," he said. "I wanted to produce meaningful work."
Veering away from commercial design work, Pate took to creating illustrations straight from his sketchbook. He started a website, offering silkscreen prints of his work. Since his venture, Pate was featured in a few group exhibitions and even had some of his work hanging in a shop in London. Recently, Pate is featured at The Hidden Lantern Gallery.
Acting Gallery Director, Jennifer Carvalho-Bindi, who lives in Brooklyn, kept coming across Pate's work while reading design blogs.
"He's kind of the darling of the design world," she said.
When she first visited Pate's Brooklyn studio, Carvalho-Bindi's initial idea was to purchase a piece or two. However, she ended up setting up a show in her mother's gallery.
"I just fell in love with his pieces," she said. "It's a departure from what we've normally shown, but I think our collectors were ready for new eye candy."
While Pate wasn’t able to make a trip down to Rosemary Beach to see the show, he said he's optimistic about his the exhibition.
"After a few rejections over the years, you develop a tough skin," he said. "But I feel confident that my work can stand on its own."
Pate's illustrations are clean and minimalist with heavy inspiration from the 1920s and 1940s.
"I'm unabashedly a fan of Matisse and Picasso," said the artist. "I have a personal connection to the '20s and '40s."
Pate's technique remains fairly simple as well. His pieces are all done by hand using ink, watercolor, pencil or pens. He then works with a third-generation silkscreen printer to create the finished product. Some pieces are made by wood-block and linoleum stamps as well. But it's really not the process that inspires Pate.
"The line is the most important thing," he said. "I want to get the line right from beginning to end and then I might add color."
Pate's work is mainly object-based, with a few portraits sprinkled in. Living in New York City, the artist can easily be distracted by an interesting shape.
"Quite often I'll stop dead in my tracks to take a photo of an object or even purchase the damn thing," he said with a laugh. "I'm fascinated by objects — whether it's the interior, exterior, the shape, the curve or grouping of objects."
It's that kind of effect Pate hoped to have on visitors to The Hidden Lantern Gallery. Pate's work will be featured until July 13.
"I hope my work will resonate with people, that they take an interest," he said. "Or look out of curiosity if nothing more."