"Luxury is an experience and all in detail."
Working with Swarovski Crystals, San B is rapidly becoming a popular bespoke artist from London.
Born in East London, San B always had a passion for art and design. However, it was during his A-Levels at college that his work came to light.
With a fusion style of art, his earlier work took inspiration from artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Chuck Close.
His journey began by experimenting with Swaroski Crystals to create images.
This led him to design and produce custom made clothing, that swiftly caught the attention of many celebrities and artists.
He had a lot of exposure when working with different music artists. These include singer Bruno Mars and Wu Tang Clan, a multi-platinum Hip Hop Act who wore his Swarovski Crystal garments when performing on stage.
His perfectionist outlook and enthusiasm for Swarovski Cryysals then saw San B creating portraits on a grand scale. His initial portraits were around the concept of icons and legends that are inspirationally timeless.
Creating artwork in Swarovski Crystals light up the icon, depicting considerable importance to their popularity.
Each crystal shines different from the next, representing the dominance and impact these iconic celebrities have across the globe.
San B became a brand partner with Swarovski Crystals in 2017. Verifying every piece of art with a hologram approval seal, he has a distinctive Alpha Numeric Code for the investor as part of any official document.
His art creation process comprises of skillfully manipulating the required image.
This enables him to differentiate each contrast section, shape and size, along with moving the image to the material. He then hand places each crystal as well as using heat to secure it.
San B continues to be experimental with, detail and different colours, shapes and sizes of crystals.
We present an exclusive Q&A with San B about his art using crystals, along with artwork focusing on icons and legends from the subcontinent.
What influenced you to work entirely with crystals?
My passion had always been art and making something standout. From experimenting with various materials, I wanted to push away from only painting and think outside of the box.
I became fascinated and mesmerised by Swarovski due to the way the crystal is cut. Each facet is precisely positioned to maximize the light.
As I started using Swarovski I showcased my first piece of work to a gallery who within 3 months gave me my first solo exhibition.
The show was a huge success and in 2017 Swarovski took notice of my work and we became partners. Each piece comes with a 16-digit code authenticated hologram seal by Swarovski.
Do you have a personal favourite piece of artwork?
My latest piece of work titled 550. I produced this to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
It consists of over 14,000 Swarovski Crystal’s, each hand placed and positioned with meticulous care.
The artwork was displayed at The Savoy London and sold on the night for a tremendous price to raise funds for charity. The event was held by One Family called Diwali at The Savoy.
This piece of work took me two months to create and never has a piece of work challenged me so much.
The depth of 7 different crystal shades alone for the facial features took many days and sleepless nights to perfect to my liking.
The reaction to this piece of work really has been overwhelming.
Although, this piece has major sentimental value to me and as well as being my favourite. It really challenged me and aided my growth as an artist.
I really feel my hard work, sleepless nights and dedication paid off and has felt the most rewarding.
Roughly how long does it take to create one of your pieces?
The smaller pieces of work sized 600mm x 600mm approximately can take around four weeks to produce.
The larger pieces over the meter x meter size can take eight weeks onwards depending on its complexity.
Swarovski Crystals also come in various sizes.
“My preference is to work with either 3mm or 5mm crystals.”
Working with the 5mm Swarovski are great as they have the most brilliance and capture the light from all angles.
Detail and sizing play a huge role in how long a piece of work can take. My upcoming projects plan to be 2 metres x 2 metres in size and will combine both 3mm and 5mm Swarovski Crystals.
What does your artwork represent?
I feel my soul is on display through my work. Producing these works I’m leaving a part of me everywhere I go. I will only really produce work that firstly I can relate too and feel passionate about.
It’s a way of expression for myself and I try to bring happiness into a world full of negativity and a way of lifting sadness. Working on icons and legends I feel they also share the same role.
It’s a way to escape from all the daily noise and I hope that my audience feels the same. My work is a way of stimulating the senses which create an emotion.
I feel my art now represents my journey so far, from my first pieces of work to my latter pieces of work.
How advance do you need to order in the Swarovski Crystals?
I do stock a number of Swarovski Crystals as many shades are not readily available when needed. Depending on production and availability really.
The importance of knowing my colour palette for a specific project is important, as some shades can be available within a week and others can take two months.
“Planning is key in my field of work.”
Exhibiting and meeting deadlines to making sure I have ordered the right amount, within the correct time can either make or break a project.
Through experience, I am in a better position to judge how many and of which colour I may need depending on the size, but this is usually once I have manipulated the image I am working from.
Which is your most expensive piece?
Private commissions have sold for £25,000 – £50,000. Bespoke pieces can demand such a price as clients love to be original and love the fact nothing else will ever be replicated.
Combining the value of the crystals along with my growing influence the artworks are definitely considered an investment.
Each piece comes with a certificate of authenticity and a hologram Swarovski Seal.
The seal contains a unique sixteen-digit code for collectors to check the crystals used are genuine.
“From the very first meeting to when the art is hung on the wall I try to offer a service and work closely to the client. Luxury is an experience and all in detail.”
What drew you to the charity ‘One Family’ and its campaigns?
One Family really have become just that – a family. They unite everyone together as one, towards collectively tackle causes of global concern, and I loved that feeling of unity as one human race.
One Family have a number of projects around the world that focus on prevention, rescue and rehabilitation, through their anti-trafficking and refugee funds.
Seeing the results first hand on how they are helping people really is something special.
“An example of this is a 7-year-old boy called Mohammed.”
It’s been just over a year since he was struck by a bullet in a crossfire in the Syrian War.
Mohammed now has a prosthetic leg, which allows him to walk and run like other 7-year-old should. He enjoys football, horse riding and even watersports!
What inspired you to produce Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sachin Tendulkar?
Every piece created is a piece of me, my soul and has influenced me in some way. I can never produce something I don’t believe in or can’t relate to.
The inspiration came from celebrating icons who have mastered their craft to the highest level and are acknowledged globally. I felt there were no two greater than Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sachin Tendulkar.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has been a voice I have heard from young. His presence when performing and to see how he has moved his audience was surreal.
Although he has now passed the reaction has not changed. When exhibiting the artwork both Hans Raj Hans and Naughty Boy were lost for words.
Hans Raj Hans even bowed to the artwork as a sign of respect. Reactions like this show me the impact such an icon can leave on this world.
Has anything ever gone wrong when creating the artwork?
Being a perfectionist with my work can be my own downfall at times. Always seeing what I can improve and do better makes me my worst critic.
I’m a strong believer in pushing the boundaries further each time and yes things can go wrong every now and then.
“But without the mistakes, you can’t grow.”
One of my first experiences of something going wrong was producing a piece and 200 hours later the canvas was pulled without the crystal’s fixed into position.
Thousands of Swaroski Crystals were misplaced. The whole piece was ruined and I had no choice but to start again.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Exhibiting in many luxurious locations such as Christie’s, Savoy London and The World Economic Forum Switzerland Davos definitely have been some of my highlights.
Having the likes of Anthony Joshua sign a piece of my work and also own a piece is something special.
I feel privileged and very proud that I’m able to sell my artworks and donate to charities too.
Working with One Family and The Children’s Air Ambulance really has opened my eyes. Giving back to help humanity is my way of thanking the universe for my gift.
Tell us about your team that works alongside you?
My work is very much bespoke and from drawing the image to the canvas to placing the last crystal it’s all created by me.
This is why only so many images are released a year.
My wife and two children are my biggest team as they go through all the motions with me. They are my biggest fans and critics, so I can always trust their opinion no matter what I do.
The only part that’s not completed by me is the framing. Using the same frame company definitely builds trust. I couldn’t think of having anyone else handle my work.
“I’m very particular about every stage of my work and the smallest of things are scrutinised.”
The future is exciting for San B with a host of projects. These include a collaboration with the brand Porsche, launching a further range of artworks and a bespoke commission honouring a sporting legend.
The unnamed sports legend may also help with creating parts of the artwork too.
Believing in quality, San B continuously wants to offer something special through his artwork. Appreciating individuality, San B feels everyone deserves something bespoke.
Musician Drake, Businessman David Sullivan, Lord and Lady Fink of Northwood and Luxury Chocoleteier Paul A. Young are some of the famous people who on work by San B.