South Tyneside artists discovers hidden talent in national competition

Artist Jonny Riggs of JR Portraits, who judged the competition.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 12:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:19 pm
Artist Jonny Riggs judged a national competition.
Artist Jonny Riggs judged a national competition.

Jonny Riggs, of JR Portraits, in South Shields, teamed up with stationary giant Pentel to launch 
competition Champion of Art.

The online competition kicked off on November 14 and saw artists enter a piece of original art for their chance to win equipment worth £200 and a print donated by JR Portraits.

Asa Hooper with his prize, a print from JR Portraits.

Members of the public were asked to vote for their favourite piece over a three-week period and, during that time, the 80 entries received more than 32,000 visits and 7,000 votes.

Mr Riggs had the deciding vote based on the popularity of each piece and selected Asa Hooper, from Somerset, with his entry ‘Alsatian’, which received almost 900 votes.

Mr Riggs said: “As part of my collaboration with Pentel, we put together the competition to help promote young talented UK artists.

“The competition looked to find unknown and untapped talent and give them an opportunity to come forward and be noticed.

Asa Hooper with his prize, a print from JR Portraits.

“Asa shot out of the blocks with determination in our competition.

“His entry was a classic pencil drawing of a German shepherd, I liked the subtle use of tones and values and the proud but dominant composition of the piece.”

The three runners-up are Sarah Mirfin, from Hoyland, Barnsley, Andrew Holmes from Morpeth, Northumberland, and Steve Gillett, from Crawley, West Sussex.

As a youngster Mr Riggs won a scholarship supported by Prince Charles to the exclusive King Edward’s School in Witley, Surrey.

After leaving, he won a bursary to study fine arts at Sunderland University.

He went on to secure a business development post with T-mobile, where he learned the ropes over what was needed to forge ahead with a successful venture.

JR Portraits, provides bespoke pencil portraits of family members, weddings, pets and celebrities.

As well as individual clients, he has a growing reputation in the US – a market for which he specialises in portraits of superheroes.

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