We sat down with Welsh Artist Patrick Killian as he discussed his journey of illustrating some of the most famous moments in combat sports, and how he got to blend his passions for ‘the arts’ and MMA through his craft.
From the age of 16, Patrick Killian found himself in a peculiar position. During the week, he was a normal art student plying his trade and picking his colors as he worked his way through college. During the weekend, he was boxing for his country of Wales, amassing a total of 45 fights in the span of five years, winning 35 of those bouts in the process. At the time, he was training at Cwmcarn boxing club with Gary Butcher and Dennis Rogers. At 23, Killian considered turning pro with the Enzo Calzaghe camp if it wasn’t for some nagging hand injuries and boxing politics that were complicating his career(s) in more ways than one.
In 1995, Killian would leave college and go on to chase his dreams as an artist. His passion was simply to catch those same fighters, which were in many ways his heroes, on camera and ‘capture their essence’ through his art. At that same time, his interest in boxing hit an apex as some of the ‘political issues’ around the scene led him to greener pastures in the martial arts world. Killian would go on to pick up Aikido and Jiu-Jitsu in the following years as a way to keep himself active and learn valuable self-defense.
Whether it’s “Iron” Mike Tyson, Jon “Bones” Jones, or Vasyl Lomachenko, Patrick Killian brings a unique impact to the canvas with vivid colors and stylistic flair for each painting. That striving for perfection is a similar goal for many artists, but Killian has channeled that need over the years into developing pieces of art that envelop anyone who comes across it. Every commission is a new challenge for Killian, and each stroke of the brush is another attempt at capturing that same ‘it’ factor that makes his subjects so special.
“I think as an artist … you try to do everything to perfection. But later on in my career, I just wanted to try and develop my own style a little bit more. Something with substance, with more impact. There’s a lot more color in my work now. I get quite bored of just copying an image.”
Patrick Killian mused over some of his biggest combat sports inspirations, from Tyson to McGregor to regional favorites like Brett Johns that give him that inspiration to continue doing what he does best. His more recent work on fighters like Singh Bhullar and Marc Diakiese have been lauded by the fighters themselves and received extremely well. His now infamous paintings of Nate Diaz bloodied up after his UFC 196 victory, as well as the iconic Mayweather-McGregor face-off have been purchased by Dana White and featured in the new UFC Headquarters.
If you’re in Las Vegas for fight week, you can view Killian’s latest paintings for UFC 219 featuring both Cris “Cyborg” and Holly Holm, as well as his Marc Diakiese piece which will be exhibited at the Sake Rok After Party, near the T-Mobile Arena.