Artist Spotlight: Joel Daniel Phillips

posted by – 09/29/17 @ 12:47pm


Joel Daniel Phillips began his career as a graphic designer, slowly shifting toward fine art.  He earned his BFA at Westmont in Santa Barbara with a focus on graphics. Although he entered the workforce as a designer, he spent his nights and weekends drawing until he could quit his job and make his own art for a living. Since then, his work has been exhibited across the United States and abroad.  He was a 3rd prize  winner of a National Portrait Gallery Competition, has shown work in the Tacoma Art Museum, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, and the Art Museum of South Texas.   He is represented by galleries in San Francisco, Norway, and now Nashville!

Phillips’ work utilizes classical draftsmanship techniques in a large-scale format.  Phillips is probably best known for his monumental, hyperrealistic portraiture that aims to expose societal histories through examining the people around him.  In an article for the Huffington Post, Phillips describes, “My drawings are an attempt to play with our voyeuristic tendencies toward the indigence surrounding us, hiding in plain sight. In the portraits, the subjects cease to be dark matter in our communal space and instead are revealed to be the main characters in their own narrative.” Phillips often elevates the homeless to a protagonistic, almost heroic elevation through the tip of his pencil.  His attention to detail and intricate care in rendering not only the physical appearance of these people, but also an sentimental appearance, he successfully reveals moments of transparent human emotion.


Joel states, “A true portrait is far more than a rendering of physical form—it is the capturing of the vulnerable, un-invented narratives that make us human. Seeing and understanding these is my ultimate goal.”

In his upcoming exhibition at Tinney Contemporary, Joel takes a different direction with his work. This time, instead of creating portraiture, he has created a new body of work since relocating from San Francisco to Tulsa, OK.  Welcome to the Orange West is an exploration of abandoned signage along Route 66 that harkens back to ideas of Manifest Destiny.  These signs are contrasted with images of historical moments that identify Americas relationship with Westward Expansion and the search for power. These new drawings juxtapose the nostalgic idea of the west with a current historical and cultural examination of America’s glamorization of the past.


6 This Land Was Not Your Land


More images and information on Joel Daniel Phillips’ work can be found on his website:


New Works by Joel Daniel Phillips

October 7 – November 11

Opening Reception: October 7th6 to 9 pm during the First Saturday Art Crawl

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