While he may take inspiration from his Irish and Cypriot roots, there’s a distinctive British flair to Will McNally’s art that has captured the attention of some of the most powerful and influential names in the world of film and music.
His eye-catching pop-culture inspired neon-soaked artwork is not just popular with his 15,000 Instagram followers, but is highly sought-after by the rich and powerful around the world who are keen to have their own piece of Will McNally art.
He’s been referred to as the next Banksy, but Will brings his own unique flair to his pieces which has seen his artwork soar in popularity and value in 2020. With private commissions from stars such as Rod Steward to requests from Warner Bros studios and even Saudi Royalty, Will is hot property.
The unique way that Will captures faces on canvas has led to some extraordinary commissions. He was approached by Universal to create a bespoke piece for the widow of Luciano Pavarotti, using the late tenor’s original master vinyls.
Will said: ‘Universal were commissioning artists, and they found me on Instagram. I was asked if I could do a piece for them, and I told them straight away it would be an honour – and that was before I was told that Pavarotti’s widow would be viewing the piece.
When she came to the office to view the piece, it was a really touching moment. She was crying when she saw it. For me, that was a huge thing to see a reaction like that to something I made. It humbled me’.
Will chose to keep this special moment between himself, his art and Pavarotti’s widow a private one, explaining: ‘I never want to be the guy who films a personal moment like that and puts it on Instagram or something. It should always be about a direct connection between the viewer and the piece – I don’t want to film it just to get a reaction, even if that reaction is genuine. These moments are supposed to be special’.
Each piece of art Will creates pushes the boundaries. Whether it’s utilising neon lighting in a portrait of the Joker or incorporating a genuine $100 bill into artwork inspired by The Wolf of Wall Street, Will ensures each piece will instantly grab the viewers’ attention.
The artist is prepared to go to great lengths to create artwork that challenges the limitations of the art form to produce art that can be accessed and appreciated by everyone. Will demonstrated this in one of his latest pieces inspired by the singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder.
He said: ‘I taught myself braille and created a piece for blind people. I painted Stevie Wonder, but on his face it’s the braille for the lyrics to one of his famous songs. I want my art to be for everyone, and this was a way to reach out and create art for people who might not be able to see it.’
Will credits the boldness and flamboyance of his work to his Irish roots and takes inspiration from his parents coming from such diverse and colourful cultures.
He first revealed his artistic flair when he was just a teenager, painting a picture of the Kray twins for charity.
‘When I was 15, I used to go to my auntie’s house, and one time she was doing a charity event and looking for ways to make money’, Will explained. ‘I told her I could paint something, which surprised her – at the time I’d never tell people I liked to paint, as I was worried people would think I was a geek, or nerdy, but at home, I was getting stuck into it, and it became a real passion.
So we went and bought two canvases and some paint, and then I started painting the East End gangsters the Krays. My auntie couldn’t believe I could paint something like that, so we went to the charity with it, and it sold for a few hundred quid. At the time, as a young lad, I was thinking that was a lot of money, and that was the drive when I was that age – thinking about the amount of sweets I could buy with that’.
Ten years on and he is revisiting his creative interest in the criminal underworld with a series of gangster inspired paintings. For one of the pieces in the series, Will mixed two classics together depicting Mario and Luigi (from the Super Mario Bros games) as the infamous Pulp Fiction hitmen Jules and Vincent.
Will’s art is on show at the Joe Webb vs Will McNally virtual exhibition on 11 December 2020.