neil buchanan's biography
Neil the Artist and Photographer
Over the years, a number of artists have greatly influenced Neil Buchanan's art including the impressionists, post-impressionists, and Toulouse Lautrec in particular. Of the more contemporary artists, Neil greatly admires Norman Rockwell Jack Vettriano.
In terms of ideas, he believes that Walt Disney was the greatest ideas man that ever lived and was honoured to be asked to design an attraction for the Disneyland theme park in Paris.
Throughout his career, Neil's work has received many awards, accolades, and endorsements from many sources, notably - Her Majesty The Queen, Yoko Ono, and Norman Rockwell's niece - herself an acclaimed American artist.
Neil is also an ambassador for the Prince's Trust for Children and the Arts.
As a photographer, he specialises in travel, wildlife, portrait, and black and white photography and has developed his own unique method of hand-embellishing his work.
Art Attack - ITV and Disney
Neil created Art Attack - and it became it an international TV phenomenon all over the world. He presented and produced the show for ITV and Disney for almost 20 years and became known affectionately as 'The Art Attack Man'.
Neil came up with the ideas for more than 500 episodes of Art Attack, which have been now aired in over 30 countries. The show became a global hit almost overnight and is now one of the most internationally decorated programmes in TV history, winning over 30 awards including two BAFTAs and being nominated a further eight times!
"My proudest moment was when Art Attack won the first two BAFTAS. For an ordinary lad from Liverpool it doesn't get much better than that!"
Art Attack turned into one of ITV's longest running shows. But it all started with the most bizarre job advert in a newspaper -
"Have you ever had breakfast with a gorilla?"This was the strange headline that caught Neil's eye when he set out to find a 'proper job' after the demise of the rock band he played in. He replied to the ad by saying "no, I've never had breakfast with a gorilla, but when I was a kid I had a picture with a monkey sitting on my knee "
The letter did the trick - the producers liked his sense of humour and he was offered a slot as a caricaturist on a brand new anarchic TV show called No 73.
By the second series of No 73, the fast-talking Scouser had blagged his way into a presenting role, and his easy-going style and popularity with viewers won him a string of presenting jobs including Motormouth, Finders Keepers, ZZZap! and Animal Crazy. However, the irrepressible Neil Buchanan wanted to invent his own show and so he eventually came up with the idea for Art Attack.
Art Attack got the green light from ITV and the rest is television history!
Every week, for an incredible twenty years, six million people of all ages tuned into Art Attack and joined Neil's invitation to "Try it yourself!" He doodled, drew and painted his way through thousands of creative art ideas and enthralled the viewers with his highly original Big Art epics, including a huge portrait of The Queen - made out of half a million pounds worth of real money!!
"I was even lucky enough to meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who referred to my work as ingenious!"
Neil's Art in the Early Years
Neil was born in Liverpool and like many other young lads, he dreamed of being a professional footballer and spent most of his time on the local football pitch - his back street!
Little did he know then that decades later, those same streets would provide the inspiration for his first full art collection HOPE STREET - a beautiful and nostalgic body of work based on memories of his own childhood.
Back then, the young Neil Buchanan loved cartoons and says he "lived inside the Beano". He was so inspired by cartoons and comics that he even used to tape his own drawings onto the glass on the front of his parents TV so that they were lit up and seemingly brought to life by the flickering TV screen - just like a real cartoon.
"I was always drawing or making things out of scraps of rubbish. My dad noticed I had a flair for art, and he'd sit and draw with me for hours. My Dad was the greatest inspiration in my life ."
Neil studied at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys which is now a centre for creative excelence and is owned by fellow Liverpudlian Paul McCartney.
From Liverpool to Marseille
Growing up in Liverpool and surrounded by 'Beatlemania', Neil was naturally mad about music. Pocket money was in short supply, so he bought a second hand guitar which didn't have any strings on. He couldn't afford them - so he drew the strings onto the guitar and proceeded to learn to play with no real strings on until he could afford to buy some!!
On leaving school, when his guitar playing was good enough, he formed a band called AC/DC! Unfortunately the name was already taken by an older band who came over from Australia, so he and his mates changed their band name to Marseille.
However, not everybody was happy about Neil's decision to become a musician - when he applied for a place at Liverpool Art College, the principal told him that he had to choose between a career in art or a career in music, he wasn't allowed to do both!
Ironically, he chose the band - and never looked back!
In 1977 they entered into the first ever 'Battle of the Bands' competition - and won! They were signed by Mountain Records and went on to record a series of singles and albums. They toured extensively for several years around Europe, and Marseille became the first of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands to break into the USA, playing to 20,000 people every night in the big stadiums.
Sadly, in the early 1980's, their record company collapsed and forced Marseille to reluctantly split up. Neil suddenly found himself torn from the life of a rock star and cast back into the dole queue in Liverpool. His music career was over.
However, fast forward to 2010 and the story of Neil's band had a happy ending. He reformed the original Marseille and recorded and released a new album - appropriately called Unfinished Business.