Life has a way of not turning out as planned and for Dallas artist, Leighton Autrey it may have been one of the biggest turning points of his life. As a high school stand out and college star in baseball, Leighton’s future seemed to be sealed as a MLB prospect drafted by the Seattle Mariners. But on his way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional athlete, a family crisis redirected his path and a new dream and unexpected love of art was born.
Since embarking on his new journey, Leighton’s art has been shown all over the world, including exhibits featuring his work in Melbourne, Australia alongside some of the continent’s top artists. His piece entitled “Wavering, James 1:2-8,” landed him a spot as one of four artists whose works would be displayed in London during the weeks leading up to the Summer 2012 Olympics. Nationally, he has had the opportunity to show his artwork at Art Basel, one of the biggest and most prestigious art fairs in the United States and locally in Dallas at the iconic Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
Mostly known for his contemporary interpretation of “Biblical Art,” Leighton’s use of bold colors and powerful messages have made him one of Dallas’ most sought after emerging artists. Selling hundreds of his works and having the opportunity to create artwork for well known celebrities, professional athletes and entertainers, he is evidence that dreams do come true; even the unexpected ones!
When watching Leighton work in his studio in Deep Ellum, it’s easy to comprehend that painting was something he was born to do. His immense love and humility for sharing his gift with the world is evident, and one of the many things Haute Living got the opportunity to speak with him about.
Where were you born?
I was born in Stephenville, Texas.
How long have lived in Dallas?
I have lived in the Dallas area since 2009.
I currently live in Waxahachie, Texas, thirty minutes South from downtown Dallas, with my wife of 6 yrs.,Mallary and our 3 year old boy, Carter.
I am a full-time artist and entrepreneur since 2012. I feel like artists today need to be more than just artists; they need to use their creative talents in many different areas of business.
Where is your studio?
My studio is currently located in Deep Ellum off of Main St.
How would you classify your artistic style?
I would classify my artistic style as expressive urban art. I have always been fond of urban decay, graffiti style because I grew up in a place where none of that was around. Once I personally experienced it and saw the colors, the grunge and the imagery that urban street art has to offer, I wanted to mix my ideas of drawings and paintings into that style of visual interpretation.
What is your preferred medium?
My preferred medium is aerosol spray paint and oils. I really never liked painting growing up, but I always liked to draw and sketch. I found out that the use of spray paint gave me the ability to paint quick and loose.
What was your largest commission?
My largest commission was actually two at the same time oddly enough. First, was two large paintings for MLB pitcher for the LA Angels Huston Street’s house off Lake Austin. Also, a few years ago when I was hired by WWE Wrestling Superstar, Sting to do two large painting for his home in North Texas. I really enjoy working with professional athletes and entertainers who appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to master a craft.
Who is has been a professional mentor for you?
My professional mentor is someone who doesn’t have an artistic background. His name is John Houston of John Houston Custom Homes. He is an amazing man who has built his custom home business from scratch to one of the most successful custom home builders in Texas. His business thrived in the 2008 economy downfall because of his calling and purpose. He taught me many things, mostly about leading a purposeful life and how what I do is a reflection of who I am and how I can help and inspire others. I feel that whenever we create something, a piece of art, a custom home, a song, a business from scratch, we are directly reflecting the Ultimate Creator.
What collaborations have you worked on?
I have worked on collaborations with the 42 Murals Project in Deep Ellum, I am Second, Red Bull, Deep Eddy Vodka, Sylvan Thirty Apartments in Dallas, Capital One, The ALS Association, The University of Texas Athletics, Jordan Wines, Top Golf, The City of Dallas Public Art Program, The City of Ft. Worth Public Art Program, Nationstar Mortgage Artist In Residence Program, Purus Labs, First Tee Austin, Art Conspiracy and more!
How is Dallas’ art scene evolving?
Dallas’ art scene is on the rise. I am glad to see that companies, galleries and businesses are investing more into artists these days.
Do you do private commissions?
I love doing private commissions, they are a challenge, but the greatest joy is when the client sees the piece for the first time and they are blown away by what they see. That’s worth more to me than the money or prestige of the project; to outdo the buyer’s expectations of what they want is priceless.
Best Lunch Spot:
Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend?
I would recommend The Joule Hotel. It’s in the middle of everything downtown and it has a cool pool that goes over the ledge.
Favorite Cultural Institution:
The Dallas Museum of Art. It’s always refreshing for me to go to.
Cane Rosso’s “The Honey Bastard” pizza
Best Gym/Athletic Facility:
Gold’s Gym, all of them
The Perot Museum. My son loves the dinosaur exhibit.
Describe your city in three words:
BIG, HOT, THRIVING.
All-around favorite spot in Dallas:
Deep Ellum. I love that area, the art, culture and food.
Best Aspect of Dallas:
It’s a big city that isn’t too big.