Meet the Essex artist who paints portraits of Premier League players like Gabriel Martinelli and Emi Martinez

An Essex artist who painted a portrait of a Premier League football player ended up being commissioned to paint more by two sports stars.

Archie Wallis, 22, from Castle Hedingham, has been making waves with his artistry on his Instagram page, designing and drawing animal portraits for friends and family during the first Covid lockdown.

But then he wanted to take his passion to the next level – painting portraits of public figures and sportsmen.

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One of the people he decided to paint was Arsenal footballer Gabriel Martinelli, creating a painting of when he won his gold medal at the Olympics in Brazil last year.

Taking a punt, he put his work on his Instagram page – @WallisOnTheWall – and reached out to Martinelli, hoping he would see it.

To his surprise, Martinelli saw the artwork and was so impressed with it that he commissioned Archie to paint another one for him.

The football star then invited Archie to his home to show off the paintings and, in addition to a commission, gave him a signed Arsenal shirt.

Archie Wallis presenting Emi Martinez (of Aston Villa) with his paintings

Archie said: “It started a few years ago now when I was at university. I wanted to earn money alongside my studies and have the opportunity to create something for myself.

“I started doing animal portraits for my friends and family and it became a full time occupation.

“During lockdown I didn’t want to do pet portraits so much so I decided to do a portrait of Captain Tom as a fundraiser. From there I wanted to combine that with my interest in sports.

“I thought I would create an original painting for Gabriella. He saw it, reached out and commissioned me.

The signed Arsenal shirt Archie received from Gabriel Martinelli after painting for him
The signed Arsenal shirt Archie received from Gabriel Martinelli after painting for him

“I was really hoping he would see it and reach out to me, and I was lucky that he reached out to me. Not only did he want me to bring it to him, but he also asked me to make another one.

“When I saw his name pop up in my inbox, I couldn’t believe it.”

Archie, who grew up and has family in Essex but now lives in Beccles, Norfolk, also received an order from Aston Villa player Emi Martinez, who wanted a painting to celebrate his Copa American championship with the Argentina, – one of Archie’s works being of him and Lionel Messi’s tournament victory.

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Archie personally delivered his artwork to the players at the end of 2021 and received signed shirts from each of them.

Following the two high profile commissions, Archie has gained interest from other parties and is currently working on new projects, where he is able to try out “new techniques”.

He added: “It all sounds pretty new and exciting to come, I want to continue with that this year.”

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