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Portrait of the artist


Hackney Wick-based artist Ant Carver started out as a graffiti artist before specialising in portraiture. He tells us about his roots, his heroes and his biggest dreams


What inspired you to become an artist?
I’ve always been interested in art, but it wasn’t until I got into graffiti when I was about 13 or 14 that I became really obsessed with it. I realised pretty quickly that letters weren’t my thing, so I started painting more figurative- and portrait-based work and discovered about the more traditional side of art. Ever since then it’s been my dream to be an artist.

What’s the most fascinating project you’ve worked on?
I think one of the best things about producing work outdoors is getting to go to different places around the world to do it. A couple of years ago I went the east coast of America to paint some walls in New York and Philadelphia. That was an amazing experience – to paint in New York, the place where I’d seen all the photos of my graffiti heroes’ work, was pretty special.

Where does your artistic forte lie?
In portrait painting, definitely. I’ve always been drawn to portraiture and from quite early on I knew that was what I wanted the focus of my work to be. I still naturally find myself drawn to portraiture over any other type of art – more specifically, portraits created using oil and spray paint. I also use acrylic paints when I’m working outside, but the majority of my work is produced using oil and spray paint and that’s what I spend the most time practicing and trying to improve.

Who inspires you most?
It’s too hard to pick out one person. I’m inspired by lots of artists, but Rone, Conor Harrington, Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville are always on the list.

What is your biggest dream?
Being able to do what I love everyday was the original dream and I’ve been lucky enough to make that happen. I think to keep pushing myself, trying to improve and being as happy as possible with myself at the end of it has to be the main goal.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
I don’t think there’s anywhere else I’d rather be than London. I love New York, Barcelona and Amsterdam and there’s loads of places I’d like to visit, but anywhere I go I’m always happy when I get back here.

Black book

Favourite restaurant? Dishoom
Favourite market? Victoria Park market
Favourite coffee shop? I’m not a big coffee drink-er but it would have to be the amazing Tina We Salute You in Dalston
Favourite place to chill? Either Victoria Park or The Approach Tavern in Bethnal Green
Favourite place beyond the east? Peckham
Desert island food? Chicken wings

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