Most people really only want the key points in an individuals life, you know, the highlights! With that in mind my Derek Wicks 'Short & Sweet Bio' maps out the key point in my life, you know, the good stuff.The short and sweet is split up into time frames by year and denote the key events highlighting those years.
'I love to paint and adore nature, it was only natural to combine the two and let it be the leading force that guided my direction in life'
- Derek C.Wicks
If you are one of those long drawn out story types.... then my 'Full Biography' is for you. Directly below is the Readers Digest version of my biography, and if you really want the long drawn out version the full out story is listed below the short and sweet.
I was born in Toronto, ON, Canada, what a cute little baby I was. Always had a love for art & nature. My first art experiance came in the form of a junior animators kit for my birthday from grandma and grew into designing and building models, mostly Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica of course!
Attended Mayfield Secondary School, this was the school of the 'arts' for my area. In 1986 Dropped out of school with only one year to go, was not to bright back then. 1989 returned to high school at age 19, talk about out of place. Received high school diploma with honours, a lttle smarter now.
Enrolled at Sheridan College - received diploma in Technical & Scientific Illustration. Graduated from college and won my first 'best in show' at the Portfolio 93' art show, I was the man! Started my freelance Illustration business Wicks Illustration, heavy thought process to come up with that name.
Sold my business and became full time artist, go from $40K a year to $9K, still not to bright. Get my first distributor Shabban Serra Ltd. Start to learn the art business the hard way. Win first 'Best In Show' at the Northeast Wildlife Fine Art Expo in Providence Rhode Island.
Work is printed in the 'Masters Of Wildlife Art' volume published by Portfolio Press, New York, NY. In 2002 I leave Shabban Serra Ltd and sign with Wild Wings LLC in Lake City, Minnesota. First time as featured artist at the Canadian Fine Art Invitational, kind of nice being the top cheese!
Marry the love of my life Suzanne Walsh, she did not even have to change her custom licence plate 'SMW'. Paint National poster for 'Timber Wolf Alliance, first time my art helps conservation. Start my 'Power to Paint' how to paint art instruction videos, I never shut up so they are a perfect venue.
Selected as the National Artist Of The Year, starts a long relationship of conservation with Ducks Unlimited.Win second place in Habitat Canada Federal Stamp, lost by one vote, should have made my bribe bigger. Selected National Artist Of The Year for the second time.
Royal Canadian Mint releases the first collector coin designed by me, it is an bald eagle head, part of five coin series. In 2016 I am commissioned to design the Olympic Lucky Loonie for the games in Rio. First time my art is used on a circulation currency coin in Canada, hope it not the last!
No big changes, stay tuned though, I am unpredictable!.
Painting A Life
"The creative process has always been a driving force in me. I thrive on the knowledge of how things work and the challenge of recreating them. My creative side began with plastic model kits. I would build them in perfect detail. As I grew older I began to building models from scratch, a hobby I still love to do. Model building was the foundation for my patience and discipline, two assets that have helped in my development as an artist. At the age of nine I began to draw out and plan the projects and models I wanted to create and then build them. I was a Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica junky the obsession of most boys in the 70's and 80's and my greatest memory was of building a "Cylon" costume from scratch out of box's from the local grocery store for halloween. How I loved to create. At age ten life took a drastic turn and I found myself in the care of the Children's Aid Society and foster homes. Over the next six years I was moved to thirteen different foster and receiving homes. Moving around so much made it very difficult to build friendships and art became my constant companion. I devoted a lot more time to art than the average adolescent. Art became my world. Sketch book in hand I would disappear into the parks and forests to catch a glimpse of nature and wildlife."
"A whole new world opened up to me when I began high school in 1982. Aside from the academic courses I was required to take I could choose courses of interest to me. Every extra credit course I took was art based. People started to see the artist in me and my teachers were very encouraging. Unfortunately with no other support system in place and a rebellious teenager trying to find his way in a world of foster care, I foolishly dropped out of school and at 16 moved out on my own. I abandoned my art over the next three years barely touching a sketch book or paint brush. I applied for several illustration positions, only to be told lack of education and a weak portfolio were holding me back. At nineteen I decided I needed to go back to school, further my abilities and build a strong portfolio if I wanted to succeed. Returning to high school at nineteen was the toughest decision I had to make but I persevered and graduated. I then applied and was accepted into the Technical and Scientific Illustration program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. College opened up new horizons for me and allowed me the freedom to explore other forms of art. I discovered painting with gouache, airbrushing, dry-brushing and many other techniques. Watching how others painted gave me ideas on how I should approach my own painting style. In my three years of college I painted very little wildlife, but it always remained my favorite subject matter. Architectural rendering and conceptual drawing began to play a strong influence in my artistic development. Through architecture I was rewarded for being detailed and accurate, a characteristic that has been present in all my creative endeavors. In 1993 I graduated from Sheridan with a diploma in Technical & Scientific Illustration and won the Artistic Excellence Award in my graduation year."
"After graduation, my career led me to free-lance illustration where I specialized in architectural rendering. Attention to detail became my commercial trademark, a trademark that would find its way into my wildlife art. I was fortunate to have a very successful freelance business and used that to finance my true passion, nature art. I painted as a freelancer by day and as a nature artist by night. I entered every art show I could find and slowly developed a solid following of collectors. As the years progressed I found myself able to paint more and more nature art and began turning down freelance architecture jobs. In 1995 I decide the only way to become a successful nature artist was to apply myself full time. I sold my illustration business to a fellow college grad and plunged into the world of wildlife and nature art with abandonment. In 1996 young and inexperienced in the art world I found my first art distributor, Shabban Serra Ltd. Shaban Serra offered a guiding light and helping hand. My first gallery show was at The Prestige Gallery in Mississauga, Ontario. It was an opportunity of a life time. I was so thrilled to be part of the show. Quickly thrill became horror when I realized my originals were hung beside none other than Robert Bateman's art. It was the most intimidating feeling. Little did I know that this would be the biggest break of all. So many established collectors came to see Bateman's work and saw my work beside his. It was exposure I never expected and I was fortunate to sell several of my originals and receive many invitations to some of the biggest shows in art. Since then I have had a very fulfilling career in art. I am lucky enough to be one of the few to make a living from his work and fortunate enough to make so many connections with other artists, students, collector and art enthusiasts."
"As a young artist in high school and college I was very inspired by Robert Bateman's work. As the years have passed I realized I was more inspired by his fame then his work. Since early in my high school years teachers said "You have to learn to paint like Bateman to be successful in wildlife art." His work is beautiful but I am the total opposite of Bateman. I paint strong dominate lighting with solid crisp lines, where as Bateman is muted and subtle. I spent so many years trying to be another artist, never exploring my own style and techniques. I thought that emulating Bateman's style was the only way to legitimize my art and the only way to be a successful nature artist.
It was not until many years after college that an artist showed me my style of art was legitimate. Daniel Smith, one of the biggest names in art had a style very similar to mine. Dan and I met at a show in Lancing, Michigan though our mutual distibutor Shaban Serra Ltd in 1998 and I instantly took to Dan's tutelage. I spent many hours during that show just listening to Dan's advice and suggestions. He sent me home with new inspiration and vigor. A few years later I had the opportunity to paint with Dan for a week in Montana. I really believe I learned more from him in one week then I did in three years at college. After working with Dan I realized my style was working and that I needed to learn how to be the first Derek Wicks rather than a second Bateman or Smith. The biggest message I try to convey in my workshops now is "be you, let your strengths define you". Over the years Dan has been a wonderful mentor, always happy to offer his knowledge and expertise to me without reward. Dan's willingness to help has given me a standard in which to measure ones self by, always help those less fortunate and give without expectation. Today the bulk of my inspiration comes from the world around me and the connections I make with others. Teaching at workshops have become an endless source of information and inspiration. When you have a room of twenty artist that are all sharing, you can not help but absorb knowledge."
- Derek C. Wicks