- The personal touch

Doug Hyde is feted for his vibrant, whimsical images and sculptures which tell stories of day to day life with wit, charm, style and honesty. His extraordinary rise from virtual unknown to the UK's foremost artistic presence has been meteoric. Since his now iconic pastel image of a smiling face first enchanted a nation of art lovers in 2003 he has gained a huge following around the world, has been named as the UK’s artist of the year, has been described by the BBC as the UK’s most popular living artist and has raised thousands of pounds for charity.

Over the years Doug’s work has embraced love and friendship, summer and winter, sport and patriotism, town and country, fashion and design and he has taken us on an exciting and colourful journey through the world he has created. He is rightly feted for the diversity of his subjects, the individuality of his style and the longevity of his success. But most of all, it is his sheer creative energy that has made him one of the 21st century’s most beloved contemporary artists.

+ The journey...

After 16 years as a published artist I am still creating art for the same reason as I did all those years ago; because it is my passion; because I love it. I create each piece of artwork because I want to-sometimes for a serious reason, sometimes simply for fun. I believe you should love what you do and be proud of it.

My first collection was published in February 2003 yet I still feel as if it is all just beginning. The past 16 years have given me the confidence and belief to continue to follow my instincts and I am genuinely excited about the future. Reaching my tenth anniversary milestone made me feel as if I was opening a whole new creative chapter in my life and I have been brimming with ideas. Of course my collectors are the reason why I have been able to make a living from doing this for so long, and I am hugely grateful for this. I feel very fortunate that you like and relate to my drawing style, technique, humour and sense of fun – we share a connection and an enjoyment in art and perhaps in life as well. Equally however, it is important that I forget about my collectors or any other influences when I work, and that I go back to basics. I need to produce art for the same reason I did all those years ago - because it is my passion.

There are all kinds of possibilities opening up ahead of me and I’m excited about exploring different styles and new ideas and seeing where they take me. Obviously my life has changed and moved on a lot in these years, so my work is always changing, evolving and reflecting this. I feel so fresh with new ideas and collection concepts and I have lots of work that I want to accomplish in the future. Ideas have overflowed this year - anything can inspire an idea, the hardest thing is capturing that thought before you forget it.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me. Enjoy the ride - I am!

+ At home with Doug...

You might be forgiven for thinking that three children are enough to make a fair sized family. I certainly did. Yet somehow over the years, the Hyde clan has expanded, and in some unexpected directions….

Living in a cottage in the Cotswolds we are lucky enough to enjoy a genuinely rural lifestyle, and surrounded as we are by farms there are plenty of animals to enjoy. In fact, if I time my journey to the studio badly I get held up by the cows crossing the lane as they do each morning. I suppose it could be a lot worse and I could be stuck in a traffic jam! But however many animals there are around, it’s never enough for the children – well to be honest, for all of us.

Nancy is our great big lolloping Great Dane. Walking anywhere with her is terribly time consuming as she has become something of a local celebrity and we constantly get waylaid by her admirers! Our alpaca farm is growing year on year. It began with three pets, Daphne, Echo and Dorado, who came on board in the summer of 2014 just to keep the grass down. In a few short years those few pets have evolved into an entire herd…not the original plan, but that’s life. There seems to be something of a divide in our household which goes beyond the swimming pool (boys) and the gym or dance studio (girls). Have I mentioned yet that we have eight cats?! It seems that Charlie and I have ended up being responsible for the alpacas while the girls are the ones who love the cats. I seem to spend an awful lot of my time putting the cats out as they are supposed to be our rat catchers while the girls keep letting them in and they appear snugly hidden in bedrooms. The animals keep us all busy, especially me! That was not the deal of course, but like mums and dads the world over, you live and learn. I must admit they are a great way to make the most of your environment as they force you to go outside whatever the weather. But checking up last thing at night is a lovely way to finish the day.

If we are not with the animals we will all be at our swimming club, gym or the girls will be at the dance studio. Have I mentioned yet we have 8 Cats, 8 Chickens and our latest addition of 2 chicks hatched last week! Luckily for the rest of the family Charlie is the future farmer and looks after all of the animals superbly well each day. I seem to spend an awful lot of time putting the cats out as they are supposed to be our rat catchers while the girls keep letting them in and they appear snuggly hidden in bedrooms. The animals are a great way to make the most of your environment as they force you to go outside whatever the weather. Checking up and locking them in last thing at night is a lovely way to finish the day.

+ Giving something back....

“As an artist you are sometimes told that your art has touched someone’s life and this is a lovely thing to hear. But to see practical evidence that my work can be used to benefit a fantastic cause is something very special!”

Doug’s work reminds us of the importance of love, friendship and security in all our lives; it has touched the hearts of a wide audience and given him a strong platform from which to raise both awareness and funds. Over the years he has donated original artworks for auction, painted designs onto cars, and released several published pieces to raise money for some of the causes closest to his heart.

As a committed father of three, Doug believes passionately that children deserve the best and happiest start in life, and many of his chosen charities share this view, be it ‘Families for Children’ which aims to place children in loving family homes throughout the West Country, the NSPCC, or the BBC’s Children in Need, neither of which need any introduction. Other organisations have also benefited from his work, from Cancer charity Look Good, Feel Better, a charity dedicated to making cancer patients do just that, to more local causes such as St Peter’s Hospice.

+ The Future...

When I look back over my life in art I feel a whole range of emotions – nostalgia, amusement, affection, pride… But perhaps the strongest emotion I feel is gratitude; gratitude for all those memories and moments worth preserving, for the people who made them happen or shared them with me, for the ability to capture them through art, and for the collectors who inspire me at every exhibition and who choose to hang the paintings or display the sculpture in their homes.

My life as an artist has been full of wonderful experiences and looking back reminds me of this, but right now I’m looking forward. I am about to move into a fantastic new studio space which is where the next chapter in my creative journey will begin. This new environment will become my artistic home and the perfect place for inspiring new ideas, collections and I’m sure some new faces… I’m facing the future with excitement, and it’s looking bright.