by Phil Vance

About Phil Vance

Phil Vance Bio


Artist Statement

I am an artist obsessed with process, pattern and rhythm. The common thread running through my career is tedium - an ever increasing level of complexity that aims to break systems, exposing the symbiotic nature of order and chaos.

My current series, “In Their Own Words,” is an exploration of one of the oldest art forms, the portrait. In this series, I render my subjects in their quotes. My technique is a twist on cross hatching, layering words to create depth and density.

I have recently begun layering quotes in acrylic paint. It was only after viewing some of Chuck Close’s portraits at SF MoMa that I began to understand how I could use optical mixing to give the portraits greater life. My goal is to allow the audience to look past the surface of my subjects to the depth of who we are as people and to ask the question: “Do we remember a person more for how they appear or for the things they say?”


Artist Biography

Phil Vance first discovered the vast world of art in his parents bookstore where he spent many hours looking through art books. 

Although Phil enrolled at U.C. Davis as a Computer Science student, the pull of Fine Arts was too strong to resist. He trained in drawing, painting, photography and printmaking, studying under artists Conrad Atkinson, Lynn Hershman Leeson, David Hollowell, and Cornelia Schulz. He was influenced by Wayne Thiebaud, who was Professor Emeritus at the time and friend of Willem de Kooning, a major role model and inspiration.

After graduation in 2003, Phil continued to refine his techniques while exploring new media and ideas.

Phil works tirelessly to develop his unique style and create new techniques. He is not only a prolific artist, often turning out 10 to 12 works a month, but he is also a wildly creative mind capable of producing work in nearly any style or medium.


Curriculum Vitae

Solo Exhibitions

2017 - Ventana Gallery “In Their Own Words” Sonora, CA. USA

Group Exhibitions

2016 - Mistlin Gallery “Autumn Art Show” Modesto, CA. USA
2016 - Carnegie Arts Center “Central California Art Showcase” Turlock, CA. USA
2012 - Sonora Opera Hall “MMLA 59th Anniversary Juried Fine Art Show” Sonora, CA. USA
2012 - Stage 3 Theater Company “Superior Donuts Art Exhibition” Sonora, CA. USA


“Artist Uses Words to Paint” Right This Minute - April 3rd, 2018


“Artist Spends Hundreds of Hours Creating Portraits Entirely Out of Hand-Written Text” My Modern Met - March 26th, 2018

“Phil Vance Works Hours on Each of His Typography Portraits Made From Hand Written Text” The Awesome Daily - March 28th, 2018

“Incredibly Detailed Portraits That Use the Words of the Subjects to Recreate Their Likenesses” Laughing Squid - March 28th, 2018

“Artist Creates Detailed Portraits Entirely Out of Handwritten Text” Oddity Central - March 30th, 2018

“Portraits Made Up Entirely of Words” Meero October 10, 2018

“Artist makes impressive portraits entirely out of handwritten words” The Daily Net - September 14th, 2018


Award of Distinction - “Mark Twain in His Own Words” - Carnegie Arts Center - 2016
Second Place - “Abstract City in Orange and Blue” - Motherlode Arts Association - 2012


U.C. Davis — BA Studio Art — Graduated 2003