Fantastical controversy from Artist and Photographer Nik Pate

Eccentric, fantastical, and cutting edge. Artist and Photographer Nik Pate, is stamping his trademark style all over London’s art scene. His satirical juxtaposition of sex, violence and beauty is what struck Couch right between the eyes! Based in London, Pate’s work is being recognised across the city and beyond, with the word spreading like wildfire.

Read our exclusive interview with the talent Artistic Director who talks about his inspiration, planning an exhibition of his work and going against the grain. Oh and yes, not to forget stabbing himself in the head with a Stanley knife, drunken photo shoots and feeding models pizza through a letter box… enjoy!

Where did the journey to being a successful Photographer and Artist start?

I have been ‘creating’ since I can remember. My parents have always been a massive influence to my creativity, encouraging me to experiment and express myself with various media from an early age. I Think at school and similarly at art college I was pulled between Theatre, Design, Photography and Fashion. But it wasnt until my final year of my degree that I realised I could comfortably merge these different media to create a platform and identity from which to launch myself .

Your work often have a satirical undertone and contrast heavily with “traditional” photography, what has influenced your style?

I’m massively influenced by the film, music and theatre industries. I respond mainly to visuals and characters. Filmic stills that are heavily themed in both music video and Film/TV tend to get my attention. From old Hollywood B-Movie sets to a Nicki Minaj facial expression, if it has characteristics that are unhinged, playful, dangerous, malevolent, sexually provocative or grotesque than my trademark overactive imagination is immediately bubbling over with ideas.

“She ate my heart. So I removed her head”

How do you transform an initial idea into the final product?

It all starts from an initial image sparked by something I have seen which is usually solidified whilst im running/listening to music. I have been blessed/cursed with a playfully deviant and overactive imagination, which means that once the idea is in my head I can visualize and build the image mentally. It’s not until i have pictured how exactly the final piece will look do i then sketch the image out. Im massively particular in how accurate the final piece looks.

I’m not good with surprises on the shoot day, and the words ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ make me feel queasy, that’s why its crucial to plan the shoot down to the finest detail. I am lucky enough to have a small team of talented individuals who provide amazing Hair/Makeup and Styling to the projects, and who are on the same page as me in terms of visualizing the end product.

I’ve had models ride taxidermy Giraffes and  feeding McDonald’s to wolves!

Setting up a business can be tough by anyone’s standards, how did you kick-start your business and more importantly build a good reputation in London?

I’m still relatively new on the London scene, but I have found that surrounding yourself with positive like-minded people is half the battle. It is an arduous task to learn who to trust within the industry, and self promoting its a giant learning curve, battling with professional people who can see you are a one man band and think they can take advantage of that.

I’ve learnt that it’s all about perseverance and also about staying true to what you do. I’m a perfectionist and I wont be happy until my client is happy and inspired by what we have created. In turn I believe that positive work ethic has helped with establishing my business, and clients are more likely to recommend me to others.

Nik Pate for Brighton Pride 2011

Working for yourself, how do you keep yourself motivated to get up and go to work?

Simply put, I love what I do. If I was lying on a beach somewhere id still be sketching down ideas or collecting props to use in shoots. I don’t have an off button. The need to visually create an ‘otherworldly’ scene and to build something that hopefully will be enjoyed by and inspire others, is enough.

If you have a creative talent then that makes you a valuable individual…. At first say yes to everything

What three fundamental rules do you live by each day?

To improve on my previous project. To find enjoyment in whatever it is im doing. And to aim to create a final piece that makes the hairs on my arms stand up.

Can you tell us about your most memorable shoot?

Ha! Well… all my shoots are pretty obscure, I’ve had models ride taxidermy Giraffes and  feeding McDonald’s to wolves. I’ve stabbed myself in the head with a Stanley knife (accidentally of course). I have had friends and family dressed up as WW2 paratroopers and nurses. However my most memorable shoot must be ‘Dummy’. I knew as soon as the models stepped in front of the camera that it was going to be an awesome series of images. And the reason I remember it had nothing to do with one of the models getting drunk and accidentally locking the whole team in the studio for hours, leading me to have pizza delivered and individual pieces posted through the letter box, then discovering my talents for picking locks!!!


What advice would you give to someone who wants to make it as a professional Photographer and Artist?

Stick to your guns and don’t let anybody make you feel inferior. If you have a creative talent then that makes you a valuable individual…. At first say yes to everything. As it’s all about building relationships and getting to know your own limits.

I’ve learnt that it’s all about perseverance and also about staying true to what you do

Can you give us any sneaky clues to what will be your next project?

I’m currently involved in the branding of a new club night in London’s Soho, which is set to be huge and massively exciting, and its something I can creatively get my teeth into and make a stamp on. Also, I’m working on a series of large scaled images that have a fun fair theme, but I don’t want to give too much away just yet.

And what’s next! Where do you see yourself in the near future?

I’m currently planning an exhibition of my work and also a coffee table book. But most exultingly im in talks with a fashion designer to bring out a range of unisex vests and t-shirts with some ridiculous printed imagery. Fun times ahead!!!

Images: Nik Pate, Jacob James