Meet Tomas Gittins, the Manchester-Based Artist Facing The Truth with His "POORTRAITS"

Hypebeast caught up with the emerging talent to discuss using art for therapy, his inspirations, and what more can be done to support up-and-coming talent.

Art 
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Manchester has stood as one of the UK’s main focal points for emerging talent for decades. From its musical heritage – spearheaded by the likes of Oasis and now the cheeky-chap rhymes of Moston’s Aitch – to the slew of food spots along the streets of Piccadilly, the 0161 is a melting pot for culture and community. 

It’s Manchester’s togetherness that gives its talent a pedestal to succeed on – and emerging artist and designer, Tomas Gittins, is proof of that. The 26-year-old currently stands as one of the most exciting artists in the city, with his “POORTRAITS” often being spotted around popular hotspots and independent exhibitions in the Rainy City. 

Having moved from his hometown of Macclesfield – a small town just outside of Manchester – to Cape Town in 2018, Gittins’ introverted time in a country he wasn’t familiar with gave him time and a chance to express himself independently. In turn, his work allowed him to channel his inner self, with no distractions in a place that at the time, felt so far from home.

Basing his work on the emotions he battled and battles with on a daily basis, Gittins uses his artwork as his personal therapy and expression, with his bold and vibrant designs taking shape into faces and characters that are mainly applied to garments and canvases. 

“Each face that I bring to life is a feeling or expression that I’ve brought into reality,” Tomas Gittins told Hypebeast following his collaborative Manchester-held installation with emerging London-based brand, Last Pick, and independent wine brand, Vin de Bodega. “I turn them into physical pieces while channeling the negative emotions into lighthearted characters.”

Now, Gittins is continuing to build a name for himself in the city of Manchester and beyond. And although his interest in art and his process of creation has been around for what seems like forever, Gittins tells Hypebeast there is so much more to come. 

Tomas Gittins Manchester Art UK Feature Interview Slawn Fashion Design Vin De Bodega Last Pick Colours

Hypebeast: Can you tell us who you are and what you do?

I’m Tomas Gittins, a multimedia artist from Macclesfield, just outside of Manchester. I make faces and characters, and I apply them, usually, to canvases. I experiment with color a lot, and sometimes I apply my designs to clothing, too. For example, most recently, I reworked a vintage Carhartt hoodie using spray paint – I added one of my face designs across the front, turning it into a one-of-one piece.

When did you first discover your passion and interest in art and design?

To be honest, I feel like I have been interested in art and design for as long as I can remember. In 2018, I moved to Cape Town – my mum is Brazilian but lives there – and being there gave me isolation as I didn’t know anyone. The time alone gave me an opportunity to work on my art and I began to use it as a way to communicate and express my emotions. Since then, art has become my main outlet of expression, it allows me to get a message across that I sometimes struggle to articulate.

 

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A post shared by Tomas Gittins (@_tomasgittins)

Who inspired you during the beginning of your career and who inspires you now?

My art is a coping mechanism for tough times. The faces and the characters that I create are what I call “POORTRAITS.” Each face that I bring to life is a feeling or expression that I’ve brought into reality. I turn them into physical pieces while channeling the negative emotions into lighthearted characters. Doing this allows the emotions I’m feeling at that time to hold less weight and relieves my mind. 

So, with that being said, my inspirations come from all sorts, but mainly myself and how I feel during that time. How I want to express those emotions differs and can be applied to a garment, canvas, something in the street, or something else.

How much do you think fashion and art are intertwined?

For me, fashion is art. It’s a depiction of expression through a different medium. So, I think they’re basically the same thing – you just wear pieces of clothing. So, to answer your question, I think they intertwine really well. It’s all an expression and an idea someone once had at a particular moment, turned into reality. 

 

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A post shared by Tomas Gittins (@_tomasgittins)

How do you see the current art landscape in the UK and do you think more could be done to shine a light on emerging talent like yourself?

I think in the UK, there’s generally a gap between established gallery spaces and artists like us. So because of that, we have to make it happen ourselves. In Manchester more specifically, curators – like myself – work with fellow artists and DJs to put on events. We saw that recently, with the event I was involved in with Last Pick and Vin de Bodega, it brought a community of like-minded people together, to enjoy art, music, and local wine. It’s the events like this – partnered with the power of word-of-mouth – that allow us to grow and show our work to more people.

What do you have in store for the future?

Well, I think that the more you put yourselves out there, the more exposure comes. So, there’s loads in the pipeline. More clothes, some murals abroad, another show with Last Pick and Vin de Bodega, a jewelry release with Novum, and art curation by Jahqira. So, lots to come – keep an eye out.

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