Stories: Lifestyle

Vincent Kamp

Portrait artist’s Bobber goal

Triumph next for artist’s brush?

Born to Dutch immigrants and sharing a name with one of history’s most influential painters, it’s no surprise that Bonneville rider Vincent Kamp is being hailed as the next big thing in the portrait scene.

But the motorcycle-obsessed painter insists dedication, motivation and passion, rather than the natural ability of namesake Van Gogh, are to thank for his breakthrough over the past 11 months.

The T100 owner is being modest, even though he never went to art college because his father insisted he could ‘do it in your spare time’.

Portait of Frank of the Bike Shed's Thy Barber
Portait of Frank of the Bike Shed’s Thy Barber

But 2017 looks like being a game-changing year. After an exhibition of cycling-inspired portraits, he has landed a contract with one of Europe’s leading fine art houses in London’s Mayfair, whose directors were so impressed with his CUTS Portraits of Barbers collection, they signed him up almost on the spot.

“I want to paint people from the grittier side of life, to capture them ‘after hours’ when they’re off guard, relaxing or pursuing their passion. I have a Renaissance style that is quite old-fashioned, so I want the subject matter to be completely modern and real,” he says.

Portrait of barber, Tom Liptrot
Portrait of barber, Tom Liptrot

His search for fresh subject matter took him to last year’s Bike Shed London show, where he was drawn like a moth to a flame by the mesmerising snip, snip, snip of the Thy Barber crew.

He says: “I thought there might be more of these guys in the barber community and Frank Rimer, who works out of the Shoreditch Bike Shed, put me in touch. I did some portraits for him and they were stoked with the response.”

Vincent owns a seven-year-old Bonneville T100 but has aspirations for a new Triumph Bobber after a test ride through the rain-soaked streets of south London near his home.

Artist Vincent Kamp and his Bonneville T100

“I rode it in the p****** rain and got soaked through. I got back to the dealership drenched but with a massive smile on my face. It’s a beautiful bike with amazing tapered aesthetics and real grunt at the low end. Triumph has achieved what no other manufacturer has managed,” he says.

For now though, father-of-two Vincent is happy with his chopped Bonneville, which he uses for riding into London.

Vincent Kamp's "Lausie"
Vincent Kamp’s “Lausie”

He still has a consultancy role at his father’s scientific design firm, but admits the painting has taken off since he went on a tutorial led by acclaimed Californian artist Sean Cheetham in Rome last summer: “He told me I was good enough to go on to the next level and that was a game-changer for me.

“I’m still at my father’s firm whenever they need me, but am now managing 12 or 13 hours a day in the studio, which is just great.”

Vincent is planning a repeat visit to this year’s Bike Shed in May to find the next subject for his charcoal and brushes, this time from the motorcycle world. ”I don’t want to just paint guys or girls sitting on their bikes. I want them in the downtime after they’ve been on a real adventure,” he says.

The Thy Barber crew
The Thy Barber crew

The 41-year-old artist is currently working on two projects, one of them involving the Repton Boxing Club in London’s East End, which was famous for being the second home of infamous gangsters the Kray Twins.

“I want to see if we can get some post-sparring shots to work from. On the other end of the scale, I’ve been approached by a burlesque dancer called Miss Cherry on Fire to do some work with her, which sounds interesting,” he says.

Either way, it’s all adding up to a busy time for Vincent, who’s adamant he’ll know the precise moment he has truly made it: “Simple, that’ll be when I put the deposit down on that Bobber.”

Check out more of Vince’s artwork here and for artwork sales please contact Rachel Simkiss (Gallery Director), Clarendon Fine Art, 46 Dover Street, London, W1S 4FF, 02074990947