Julian Opie | 10 Facts About The British Visual Artist


Julian Opie rose in the art scene in the 1980s and today he is one of the leading contemporary artists in the world. Opie is famous for his minimally detailed artwork and for integrating technology in art. Here are 10 interesting facts about the British artist.


#1 When he was young Julian thought art school was for losers

Born in London in 1958, Julian Opie was raised in the city of Oxford. His mother Norma Opie worked as a schoolteacher while his father Roger Opie was an economist who is known for presenting The Money Programme in the 1970s. Julian painted every night by the time he was 14 and was advised by people to join an art school. Although he considered that art school was for losers, his mother’s encouragement ultimately convinced him to join the Chelsea School of Art in 1978.

Chelsea School of Art
Chelsea School of Art


#2 He was taught by Michael Craig-Martin and Richard Wentworth

Julian Opie joined the Goldsmith’s College of Art in 1979. Here his teachers included conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin, creator of the famous artwork An Oak Tree; and Richard Wentworth, who was appointed CBE for his services to art in 2011. Julian graduated from Goldsmiths in 1983 and the same year he had a one-person exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, in Marylebone, with whom he still works today.

Michael Craig-Martin
Michael Craig-Martin


#3 He became a prominent artist through his painted metal sculptures series

Opie became well known in the British art scene in the 1980s through his highly inventive series of painted metal sculptures. These sculptures humorously combined loosely painted imagery with steel shapes. By the end of the decade his sculptures became larger, more austere and minimal, and were often based on a relationship between art and architecture.

Julian Opie
Julian Opie


#4 Julie Opie is most famous for his unique graphic portrait style

Julian Opie is most famous for creating ultra-modern portraits with thick black lines and very little detail. Opie’s distinctive graphic style is marked by reducing the features that distinguish individuals from each other to the bare minimum. His artworks are celebrated most for making his subjects unique and recognizable with the bare minimum of lines.

Julian Opie Portrait
Julian Opie Portrait


#5 His popularity increased after designing the cover art for Blur’s album

Julian Opie’s style gained popularity after he designed the cover of English Britpop band Blur’s best of album which was released in 2000.The four part portrait is not only one of the most famous album covers but also an iconic artwork. The portraits of the four band members of Blur was bought by the Art Fund in 2001 and are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Cover Art of Blur's Album
Famous Cover Art of Blur’s Album by Julian Opie


#6 Julian Opie’s Ann Dancing is a popular attraction in Indianapolis Cultural Trail

In 2006, Opie created an LED projection for U2’s Vertigo world tour. In 2007, he created the four-sided LED sculpture Ann Dancing which in 2010 became the first artwork installed on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The same year he was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create a portrait of the inventor and engineer Sir James Dyson.


#7 Opie is known for integrating technology in his art

Julian Opie has always used the latest technology and is well known for integrating technology into his art. He has used LED lights and voice recordings behind his artwork to add another dimension to it. In 2012 he used 3D printing to create two larger-than-life busts. However, as the technology doesn’t allow the use of color still, he painted them by hand.

Shahnoza in 3 Parts by Julian Opie
Shahnoza in 3 Parts – Julian Opie


#8 His artwork has become a part of popular culture

Opie uses a wide variety of models for his portraits from mechanics to musicians; from racing drivers to astrophysicists; from children to the elderly and so on. His artworks can be found everywhere from buses to bags to t-shirts and have become a part of popular culture. There are several websites which are dedicated to teaching people how to create their very own Opie-style artwork.

Julian Opie T-Shirt
T-Shirt with Julian Opie’s art


#9 His artwork is inspired by Tintin

Opie’s portraits usually have button eyes, two dots as a nose, a long upper line and shorter lower line as a mouth and two brushstrokes as eyebrows. He differentiates them by using backgrounds, hairstyles, position of head, light reflected in the eyes, accessories etc. Opie takes his inspiration from the Tintin cartoons by Herge.

Herge's Tintin
Herge’s Tintin


#10 Julian Opie is among the top contemporary artists in the world

Julian Opie is one of the leading contemporary artists in the world. His work is exhibited extensively in galleries and museums around the world. He has been awarded several prizes including Music Week CADS, Best Illustration for Best of Blur. In 1995, Opie was awarded the Sargent Fellowship at the British School in Rome.

5 thoughts on “Julian Opie | 10 Facts About The British Visual Artist”

  1. omg i love tinin! i couldnt believe it at first that it was inspired by the artist.. Looks like ill start to read tinitin books again hehe


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