Paul Harvey at his Richmond studio 2021
Paul Harvey - the Melbourne artist turning the volume up
For Paul Harvey, Melbourne artist, the new challenges presented by COVID join the ever present obstacles which test the mettle of any professional artist. Despite these, Harv has been able to not only carve out a career for himself, but has become known as a leading Australian caricaturist.
AFL Grand Final Day. Or night as it was this year. And many things were different for footy supporters. Not only were the mighty Dee’s in their first season culminating game in 57 years, the contest itself was decided outside the hallowed arena of the MCG.
But for many Aussie Rules footy tragics there remained some familiar and consistent threads. Importantly one of these is Paul Harvey.
Paul is a stalwart of the AFL season. Think AFL footy cards. Collectors’ art pieces. Live caricature.
Paul is one of Australia’s leading cartoonists, caricaturists, illustrators and authors. He is as skilful at entertaining at a corporate function with live caricature as he is at designing painstakingly illustrated and illuminated addresses.
With the Brownlow awards just held, the winner, Ollie Wines, received a large Harv original address, which is presented to the AFL Brownlow medalist each year.
Caricature – Portraiture with the volume turned up
“When I draw a caricature of someone, I’m not just drawing it for him or her. I’m drawing for all the people who are standing behind them nodding their heads. Knowing that I’ve captured their look and made a statement about them.”
Paul has been a welcome entertainer at many corporate and private functions, performing live caricature. However this has been on hold during 2021.
His latest offering by Wilkinson Publishing is a magnificent ode to his work with a book entitled, Harv’s Footy Stars – 30 years of Footy Caricature. Harv is well-known and loved by us. We purchased a copy of his latest book when it was first released and it quickly became a talking point in our household.
It’s quick therefore it’s easy
Harv touches upon the age-old dilemma facing an artist of skill and excellence. His utter mastery of drawing sees his hand flying across the paper as he quickly renders his impression of what’s before him. Because he’s quick, it must be easy, right? Because it looks easy, where’s the value? Anyone who thinks drawing is easy, can look at Harv’s extensive catalog of work for inspiration – and for a reality check. Artwork of this calibre is not easily produced. His passion, natural ability, and learned craft have all helped Harv to this point. Additionally his own mentors, significantly the much-loved Melbourne artist WEG, helped nurture Harv’s skills.
Many of Australia’s high profile leaders and personalities, from all walks of life, have a Harv original caricature on their wall.
The age of screen capturing images, using someone else’s art to make your own point, and thereby failing to attribute the art to its rightful creator, is infuriating for most artists. Unsurprisingly Harv also finds the hijacking of others’ work frustrating but he remains philosophical. “I’m grateful for the work I’ve been commissioned to do by the AFL. I’ve been doing work for them for over 30 years, and their licencees are also terrific to work with”
The Arts as a career, not a hobby
COVID has been a particularly tough time for people working in the Arts. For those who rely on audiences and live gatherings.
Most professional artists are working in the arts, not as a hobby, but as a career. And they need support during this crisis.
Paul counts himself as one of the lucky ones. Although impacted, he has been able to continue working from his home studio. He also assists other artists, mentoring and supporting them in the competitive world of caricature.
With the decline of print media (who can forget going straight to the cartoon section of the Herald Sun), Harv has been clever at turning his hand at many artistic media scapes.
His endeavours cover styles from watercolour, inks, acrylic, oil, pen, brush and most digital illustrative and design programs.
He has also produced postage stamp sized pieces and murals on walls 20 metres long.
Aside from newspapers he is a contributor to a diverse range of books and magazines. His work has been featured in televised news stories, children’s and sport programs, at home and abroad.
Future plans for the self-taught man
So what are the future plans for Harv? “I’m self-taught and when I get more time I’d like to dabble further in oils. I’d also love to look at other media. I’d love to do sculpture. Some large bronzes of these guys I’ve done caricatures of. But all in good time….”
For all of us following the man, the myth and the legendary artist extraordinaire, Paul Harvey, we can’t wait to see what he creates next.