Life in a frame - K. Patrick Byles captures happiness, colours and the energy of Caribbean islands
Art that is alive, a hand-painted sign, sits on a wall surrounded by numerous prints and paintings that stretch in continuous motion from one wall to the other. K. Patrick Byles' home is a living legacy of this marketing and communications consultant and commercial artist's life.
Walking into his studio space is stopping the clock back in time, when the clock ticked, analogue and cathode ray tube technology ruled the roost, and tweet was a sweet sound made by a bird rather than myriad of 140 characters.
"Art is beyond creative expression," Byles says, sitting in his studio, surrounded by neatly laid stacks of artwork, which he meticulously converted from his original paintings to prints, coasters, trays, memorabilia and souvenirs.
"It is a viable business proposition with tremendous potential to earn revenue both for the artists and contribute to the economy," he said.
Byles, a doyen in marketing and communications, started his artistic journey when he was at high school, from creating murals at Jamaica College and then St George's College, gaining accolades.
"Edna Manley used to encourage me to paint. She always used to say that I had potential," he said.
The broad-brush generalisation of an artist needs to be changed. The traditional notion of painting with the hope of selling each picture as fast as possible and the traditional focus of building a collection of objects to exhibit in the halls of high rise are passé.
The maturity of art has to be recognised at boardroom levels - it impacts all areas of communication, commerce, packaging, architecture, decorating, and entertainment.
His inspiration has flights of imagination from his travels across the Caribbean, having lived and run a successful advertising agency in The Bahamas, which he started in 1948; his agency also handled high-end clients in Jamaica.
"My creations capture the happiness, colours and the energy of the sun-kissed islands of the region," he said.
High energy, Byles says, is the key to give the wow factor to any art form - be it creating a painting or marketing a product or service. This energy is exhibited in Byles' flight of imagination, bold and bright colours, some capturing serene surroundings, others encapsulated by voluptuous bodies.
"I have tried to capture the freshness of the Caribbean life, images and ideas, and transformed them into materials of merchandise and reproduction," Byles said.
Starting his career in the late '40s, Byles' vision and ideas hold relevance, marketability and potential in the 21st century. In 2000, he formed Artventures International, an art merchandise company to produce and sell art-related wares.
An octogenarian now, age might have caught up on Byles physically, but the spark in his eyes gleams with youthful exuberance. "
I want the world to enjoy this world of art - for collectors, as gifts - art that is alive and refreshing," he said.
Byles says his dream is for the world to recognise this untapped potential of Jamaica and the region, life beyond the sun, sand and the sea. This, he says, is possible by convergence of energies of like-minded people who have the collective vision of seeing potential of this business of art.
Byles says that his life's journey has been one of constant discoveries, thinking out of the box, creating a niche, and would love for this rich legacy to live and prosper.
"A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others," once said Spanish surreal painter Salvador Dali. Byles epitomises these sentiments in his continuing journey of popularising fine arts.
Photos by Amitabh Sharma