When have you made it in the world of fame? Loads of awards? Being interviewed by Ellen? Parodied by ‘The Key of Awesome’? Nope, the true sign you’ve become a real superstar is when you’ve had a portrait made out of food! Nathan Wyburn shot to fame on the 2011 series of Britain’s Got Talent, where he made Michael McIntyre’s face out of Marmite on toast – live! Since then he’s jetted off all round the world making art for big companies, popped up on loads of TV shows to present his portraits made out of… well, everything, and been involved with dozens of charities. With his debut book coming out in the New Year, we decided to get in touch to do an interview all in Welsh. Except our editor didn’t like that so we did it in English instead. Enjoy! #SeriousArtJournalism
How are you doing today Nathan, and what are you upto?
I’m great thanks – I’m just finishing up pulling everything together for my debut art book this week. It’s been a hectic few months on it but it’s all going to be worth it!
How is your book coming along?
Brilliant! It consists of a brief autobiography of my life & career to date along with many celebrities quotes on my work & around 80 of my most loved portraits using a vast range of everyday mediums. For me it’s like a greatest hits collection of the past 4 years – an eclectic mix of conceptual, political, comical and simply fun pop culture portraits.
When’s it out?
It’s set for release around March next year, but initial promotion and pre orders etc in the coming weeks!
It’s been nearly 4 years since you auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent, has the time flown by for you?
Yes it really has! This book has been a real eye opener for me in that respect, so much has happened in such a short space of time.
Warning: this video contains the music of Geri Halliwell
When you first auditioned, did you ever think you’d get to do any of the things you’ve done?
Certainly not. I wasn’t even certain I wanted to audition! It took a lot of convincing from my YouTube followers (who thought my work would suit the show) to actually give it a go. I was a nervous wreck and it was completely out of my comfort zone. It worked I think because it was so unique in comparison to what you usually see on BGT – even now I still get the odd ToastBoy or MarmiteMan remarks! It’s funny. I’ve had celebrity’s asking for portraits, travelled all over Europe for TV & commissions including reaching the top 15 of a talent show in Austria last year too!
Of all the works you’ve made in your career, what has been your favourite?
This is always such a tough question. I hold my first Simon Cowell Marmite on toast portrait close to my heart because that kick started it all for me, however I’d probably say it’s Rupert Murdoch made from 5,000 images of Phone Hack victims – that made The Guardian full front page.
Closely followed by Miley Cyrus painted using my tongue, Britney with peanut butter & Jelly and maybe even Stephen Fry using eggs fried rice & Veg – which he himself said was “Absolutely Amazing!”.
How long does an average piece take?
Usually around 4 hours but I have been known to work up to a month on one before. I have quite a short attention span though – that’s not usually good for an artist.
Are there any celebrities you’d love to meet and make a portrait for, and what material would you use?
I’d love some royal approval of my work. I’ve made Kate & Will on toast with marmite & issuing Jacobs crackers, The Queen using Greek Foods and Prince Harry using Ginger nut biscuits! In the near future I have plans to create some of my most loved artists – meeting those one day would be great!
Working with the materials you do, we image things can get very messy, yet you make it look so easy. Has anything ever gone terribly wrong whilst making a piece though?
It does get messy, often smelly too. I once made a portrait of Katy Perry with Cat food.. That was gross! And a stark contrast to the likes of Keith Lemon using lemons or Jesus using chocolate! Nothing’s ever really gone very wrong.
You must be sick of toast by now, right?
Funny enough no! I’ve lost count of the portraits I’ve made using it but I still love it!
When you’re not jetting off around the world, you like to give something back. Could you tell us a bit more about the charity, BulliesOut, of which you are an Ambassador for?
I deciding to become an ambassador for BulliesOut because of my own experience growing up. I was bullied for being nerdy, enjoying school, having red hair and being gay. It got quite bad for a while and it took a lot for me to get through that. I found confidence in people telling me I’m good at my art. Those are now the things that I love about myself the most. I aim to encourage people suffering with bullying to speak to someone about it, find your own strengths & talents and work on that. It’s a great charity and it offers help to anyone needing it.
Christmas is coming up soon, what are your plans for that?
I love Christmas & all the festivities that come with it! I always spend it with my family at home! I have a 5 year old sister so it’s still magical watching her open her presents.
What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?
Probably a tricycle when I was about 10.
We’ve got a Christmas party coming up* and need to make a killer playlist, what’s your favourite Christmas song?
I really love ‘I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday’… It gets me jumping around!
And lastly, we’ve got to ask the classic MP! question: What’s the best thing on the menu at McDonalds?
It has to be a Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap!!
Thank you for your time Nathan! Keep your eyes peeled for info on Nathan’s debut book in the coming weeks, which currently has a release date of “March”.
*We can confirm that our Christmas party has now happened, details are… fuzzy but photos confirmed it did happen.