Spotlight: Allan Stephens


‘I spent a night in the cells in Johannesburg. It's a long story’

Artist Allan Stephens on red wine, the Bulgarian Mafia, and the crab who went to a disco

artist allan stephens

Allan Stephens: 'I wanted to be a pilot, a footballer, AND a painter.' Photograph: © Groupe Sud Oust 

Born in 1970, Allan Stephens' passionhis addictionis to paint. Having realised his purpose is creating fresh work that offer an unexpected take on familiar surroundings, Allan is in perpetual motion, looking for new inspiration.

What does happiness look like?
A perfect day.

Do you have any bad habits?
Many, and I'm still looking for a few more.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Doing this quiz rates highly. 

What is your favourite smell?
Crushed garlic.

Can you remember a favourite holiday?
Polruan, Cornwall, when I was very young... Drinking shandies on the port wall.

What time did you wake up today?
No idea. 

What was the last thing you ate?
Leftovers from yesterday's barbecue.

And drank?
Too much red wine. 

What are you currently listening to, or reading?
Reading 1984 by George Orwell in French, and for the second time... The first time was at school, in English, and in 1984! 

allan with two of his finished paintings

Artist Allan Stephens proudly displaying two of his finished paintings. Photograph: © Groupe Sud Ouest 

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A pilot, and footballer AND a painter. I'm glad I managed one of them.

What is the worst thing anyone's said to you? 
"Can you fill out this quiz for our customers?" 

What is the worst job you ever had?
In a burger van at the lay-by between Harlow and Epping, Fridays and Saturdays between midnight and 4am. 

And the weirdest?
Chauffeur for small-time mafia in Bulgaria.

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
My wife, Katia. 

If you could talk to anyone, past, present or future, who would it be?
I hesitate between David Bowie and Rik Mayall. 

Tell me a joke?
Have you heard the one about the crab who went to a disco and pulled a mussel? 

Have you ever been arrested?
No, but I spent the night in a cell in Johannesburg. (Long story.)

Have you lied since this interview began?
Surprisingly, no.

What has life taught you?
That good painters don't have much to say. 

artist allan stephens with one of his large format artworks
Allan with one of his large-format artworks. Photograph: © Groupe Sud Ouest


Alexander Miles and Allan Stephens have worked together since 2014, exhibiting Allan's original paintings, organising bespoke commissions, and publishing Allan's signed, limited edition prints. Our Allan Stephens one man show in 2015 broke all records, and remains the most successful exhibition we've ever organised.