Alan Thornton – Artist and Photographer
Alan Thornton’s work translates his original photography through the medium of silkscreen printing, to create extraordinary fine art prints in limited-editions. Based in Spitalfields, East London, Alan uses photography, image making, and screen printing to explore and express his passion for fine automotive engineering.
Alan’s obsession with photography as a teenager propelled him into the darkroom where he relished the opportunity to physically manipulate and enhance prints. Graduating from Salisbury College of Art with a first, Alan was a very early adopter and innovator in the use of digital tools and techniques, applying them to both still and moving images. His work is informed by an eclectic range of influences drawn from fine art painting and film making combined with creative darkroom skills. Growing tired of the ease and lack of discipline presented by digital capture, manipulation and printing, Alan began his search for a medium that would enable him to synthesize the techniques he had developed, and bring an intense focus to his work.
An epiphany came with Alan’s realisation that silkscreen printing facilitated the perfect marriage of his ideas, skills and techniques. Alan’s early silkscreen prints exposed his underlying obsession with industrial design and function, and the relationships we all have with inanimate objects. Having worked as a commercial photographer for decades, he reflected on the intimate relationship photographers develop with their cameras – the feel, the textures, the details. His use of screen printing brings to life the tools of photography in his first major body of work. The attention to detail Alan brought to these ‘photographic’ prints extended to the use of metallic silver inks to add depth but also in a reference to the underlying technology of analogue photography – silver halide.
His obsession with form, function and beauty has now led him to work with another long-term passion – cars. Precise and technical in nature, these prints isolate the subject, laying the image onto Alan’s signature metallic background, that focuses the viewer’s eye on the sculptural, organic qualities of iconic cars and planes. It was these qualities that brought him to the attention of Amalgam founder Sandy Copeman, and in 2022, Amalgam and Alan announced the first in the series of large-format, fine art silkscreen art prints of iconic cars.
The Silkscreen Print Process
Screen printing in its simplest form, is the process of transferring a stencilled artwork onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink, and a squeegee. Alan’s work takes the medium to a very special place. Starting with the photography, he precisely composes and lights the subject, always carefully considering the intermediate processes and his vision of the final print. In post-production he refines the image and manipulates it to create the tonal variations he requires for each colour. These are then half toned, simulating continuous-tone imagery through the use of dots or lines, varying in size or spacing. For each colour, a positive acetate is transferred to a silk screen frame, coated in photosensitive emulsion. Following exposure, washing out and drying, the frame is mounted onto a print bed, and the hand mixed ink is forced through the mesh with a squeegee onto archival quality paper. This is a highly skilled process, sensitive to the touch, feel and technique of the printer, and as a result each print is truly unique. Alan’s method uses ‘spot colours’ he mixes by hand to represent the essential colours of the subject car, often including precious metal foils and metallic inks. It is the artistic application of this printing style that makes his prints uniquely vivid and captivating.
The Half Tone Process
A reprographic technique that simulates continuous-tone imagery through the use of dots, thus generating a gradient-like effect, Alan's Half Tone artwork brings his traditional approach to screen printing into the contemporary digital world. ii. Sprayed directly on to the brushed aluminium composite panels, the ink is then cured by a UV light that bonds it to the surface of the substrate, resulting in a resistant and long-lasting work of art that can even be displayed in outdoor exhibitions. This approach opens up endless ways to add texture and depth by building the image up in multiple layers, very much like the screen-printing process. The finished image is waterproof and very resistant to abrasion, so that there is no need to protect the art behind glass. The piece can be hung without a frame, creating a sharp and minimal presentation of the art floating less than an inch (15 mms) off of the wall. The piece can also be traditionally framed and hung if desired. Alan’s work in this medium brings exceptional precision, intensity, and glamour to the finished art.
Alan Thornton Fine Art Prints
We are proud and excited to partner with Alan on a shared mission to capture the essence of the most beautiful and iconic cars and translate them into extraordinarily beautiful fine art prints. Having already engaged the attention of some significant figures in the automotive design space, we know it will not take long for collectors to recognise the craftsmanship and deep artistry Alan brings to his work. With such truly captivating and emotionally engaging pieces, their value is sure to rise steadily.
From the imposing 1 metre x 1.5 metre (3 feet x 4.5 feet) Limited Edition art print of the Lotus 72D, each personally signed by two-time Formula 1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, to ChromaLuxe® prints of the Aston Martin DB5 and Valkyrie, we feel Alan's art, much like our models, is truly timeless.
The Future of the Collection
Alan’s artistic obsessions align perfectly with Amalgam’s. Several important automotive brand collaborations are in hand, and the collection is set to grow quickly. Alongside a swath of classic icons in the pipeline, the lead designer at one of our most important brand partners has immediately recognised the value and beauty of Alan’s work, resulting in a collaboration already underway to capture their most exotic hyper-cars and iconic classics.