Nathan Wyburn

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Nathan Wyburn
Nathan Wyburn.jpg
Wyburn in 2011
Born (1989-10-24) 24 October 1989 (age 27)
Ebbw Vale, South Wales
Nationality British, Welsh
Education Cardiff School of Art & Design
Known for Collage, art using food
Movement Pop art

Nathan Wyburn (born 1989) is a Welsh artist and media personality who has created celebrity portraits and pop culture imagery using non-traditional media such as foodstuffs and other household items.


Early years[edit]

Wyburn is from Ebbw Vale, South Wales and studied Art at both GCSE and A-level.[1][2] After leaving school he undertook a degree in Fine Art at Cardiff School of Art & Design.[3]

He became an internet star in 2010, when he posted a YouTube video of himself creating a portrait of TV personality Simon Cowell, made using Marmite on toast.[4] Alongside other time lapse videos Wyburn has gained in excess of 10 million video views. He was featured on the BBC children's TV programme, Blue Peter.[4] He subsequently featured on other TV shows, including ITV News and Sky Sports, where he created a portrait of England football manager Fabio Capello using bolognese sauce and pasta.[5] He received messages of support from celebrities including singer Katherine Jenkins and pop star Justin Bieber.[5]

Britain's Got Talent[edit]

In 2011 Wyburn appeared as a contestant on the TV talent show Britain's Got Talent, where he created a portrait judge Michael McIntyre again using Marmite on toast. He reached the semi-finals where he attempted elaborate portraits of Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, but failed to live up to expectations, with the judges telling him he had taken on too much in the short time available. This also led to other television appearances such as Daybreak and Lorraine. He later decided to create an image of Queen Elizabeth II, as he had missed out on the prize to meet her.[6]

In 2012, at the height of the News International phone hacking scandal, Wyburn's portrait of Rupert Murdoch, made from 5,000 images of alleged phone-hacking victims, appeared on the front page of The Guardian. Wyburn's work was also recognized as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games under Education Relays when he held a one-off edible art exhibition, featuring British Olympians at Bournemouth Arts College and quoted "Amazing" by Diver Tom Daley. In 2013 he entered the Austrian equivalent talent contest, Die große Chance,[7] finishing in the last fifteen and gaining praise from Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst after creating her portrait using glitter.[8] Other international projects for Wyburn include creating toothpaste art at the '15th International Dental Congress' in Istanbul and a 10-day stint in a purpose-built glass container in the centre of Helsinki, where he created over 50 portraits of Felix Ketchup fans using the product, boosting sales by 18%. Wyburn continued to have TV appearances including a performance on the Spanish version of Don't Stop Me Now and as Sky Portrait Artist of the Year.[citation needed]

Shortly after the death of Margaret Thatcher, Wyburn created a portrait of her using coal. He said:

I've created a portrait of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, using crushed coal powder & solid coal. Whether you loved or loathed her, her actions towards the mining industries is one of her most famous and controversial legacies, that even today splits the opinion of a nation.[9]

The artwork won 1st prize in a nationwide open art competition entitled Britain's Got Artists judged by George Galloway.[10]

Commercial commissions[edit]

Brands such as Marmite, Bic, Oral-B, Costa, Starbucks, Morrisons and Hovis have independently commissioned Wyburn.[11] Wyburn's work has received plaudits from a number of celebrity admirers including Perez Hilton,[12] Stephen Fry, Ruby Rose, Tyler Oakley, Joanna Lumley, Keith Lemon and Alan Carr.[citation needed]

From 1 August to 21 September 2014 Wyburn exhibited at the Cardiff Story Museum.[13] Previous exhibitions include Barnabas Arts House and Queens Arcade, Cardiff.

In May 2015 Wyburn created a portrait of the new Royal baby using 1,000 babygrows.[14] In May 2015 he also created a portrait of Welsh rugby international Adam Jones using mud.[15]

For Father's Day 2015 Wyburn teamed up with Morrison's supermarket to create pizzas featuring five famous fathers: David Beckham, Tom Fletcher, Gary Barlow Simon Cowell and Marvin Humes.[16] Other notable works by Wyburn include Miley Cyrus painted entirely with his tongue, David Beckham painted with his feet, Jesus Christ using chocolate and Lady Gaga using Coca-Cola.

Wyburn had pinned his success on his self-confessed "Warhol like obsession" with pop culture and the notion of celebrity. His biggest artistic influences are Andy Warhol, Chuck Close and Vik Muniz. In a September 2015 interview with the BBC, Wyburn said of his own work: "It is current to current affairs and current to pop culture. I don't see why that should not be shown in a gallery, in the Tate Gallery or the National Gallery" adding "I do strive to be taken seriously. It would be nice to get that sort of recognition." He had recently learned that he would be taught as part of the GCSE art curriculum in Wales and he described the possibility of himself being mentioned in the same lesson as his hero Andy Warhol as "mind-blowing".[17] Wyburn has also been included on the website for Ripley's Believe It Or Not! franchise.[18]

Wyburn is also known for viral Facebook videos such as Eminem created in Spaghetti which received over 15 millions views, after it was posted by The LAD Bible and Ruby Rose shared her artwork created using Pizza.

Recent work[edit]

In November 2015 his book Not That Kind of Art, featuring 80 of his works, was published by Candy Jar.[19] In December 2015 Wyburn created portraits of Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, from the rock group Status Quo, out of matchsticks, inspired by their 1969 song "Pictures of Matchstick Men".[20] He also created images of Star Wars characters from food products, including lead characters Rey (Daisy Ridley) made from tomato puree and Finn (John Boyega) made from tikka paste.[21]

Wyburn once again received attention on social media in January 2016 after creating a viral video of an 8 ft portrait of Justin Bieber entirely with lipstick, by kissing the canvas.[citation needed] In March 2016 Wyburn gave a talk and made live toast art at a TED (conference) alongside Procter & Gamble in Geneva, Switzerland. To celebrate the 40th year of The Prince's Trust, Wyburn collaborated with the charity to make a portrait of its ambassador Paloma Faith using thousands of images of people involved with the trust. The portrait was then projected on to some of the UK's landmark buildings, including Liverpool's Royal Liver Building and City Hall in London, Glasgow and Cardiff. A similar portrait of HRH Prince Charles was also commissioned and presented to him at Buckingham Palace by Dame Joan Collins.[citation needed]July 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls, to celebrate this Wyburn created portraits of the 5 members Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Mel B, Melanie C & Geri Halliwell using mediums inspired by their personas which included Caviar, Baby Powder & Ground Ginger Spice. Melanie C later received a drawing from Wyburn and branded him "Absolutely amazing!"

In August 2016, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Techniquest science museum, Wyburn created a portrait of scientist Albert Einstein using thousands of Smarties. He also painted a portrait of actor Gene Wilder, using chocolate, as a tribute to the late comic actor.[22] To raise awareness of World AIDS Day on Dec 1st 2016, Wyburn created a red glitter portrait of singer & Queen icon, Freddie Mercury, who died of the disease in 1991.

Throughout March and April 2017, the Welsh language channel S4C, aired 7 consecutive art segments featuring 7 unique artworks being created by Wyburn. These included a painting of Gareth Bale with his feet, Sam Warburton with mud, Zoella with glitter and Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow created using sand and seaweed on Barry Island beachfront.

Personal life[edit]

Wyburn is gay and is an ambassador for the anti-bullying charity Bullies Out. He is also a supporting partner of Pride Cymru acting as their Youth Ambassador.[23] When asked, in a 2014 interview with, whether he saw his LGBT perspective as playing an important/any role in his art, he replied: "I see it playing a huge role in my life in general. I don’t think I’d be half as strong minded or determined if I hadn't had to go through my teenage years facing what difficulties I did – bullying etc. I feel proud enough to create pieces of work that are supportive of the LGBT community such as Obama painted on the pride flag – and stand on stage at Pride events and show people it gets better."[24] In 2012 Wyburn created a portrait of the newly re-elected President Barack Obama, painted on a pride rainbow flag, inspired by Obama's support for same sex marriage.[25]

In October 2015 Wyburn took part in YouTube's first live 12-hour Stand Up To Cancer event, making coffee portraits of YouTube favourites Joe Sugg and Caspar Lee. The day raised over £120,000. Following the first series success, in May 2016 Wyburn modelled for photographer Thomas Knights, as part of his Red Hot 2 campaign. The exhibition and book is aimed at celebrating and rebranding the stereotype of red heads.[26]

In August 2016 it was revealed that Wyburn was placed at number 10 in "The Pinc List 2016", a list of the 40 most influential LGBT people in Wales.[27]


  • November 2015, Not That Kind of Art, Cardiff: Candy Jar Publishers.[19][17]


  1. ^ "First Person: Ebbw Vale artist Nathan Wyburn". Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  2. ^ "One person's trash is this artists treasure by Sarah-Jane Outten". Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  3. ^ "Crumbs!: Artist makes Peter Kay portrait using marmite and toast". Manchester Evening News. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Marmite masterpiece is the toast of the web". BBC News (South East Wales). 16 March 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Celebrities spread the word about Nathan's artwork". WalesOnline. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Britain's Got Talent star Nathan Wyburn's birthday toast for the Queen". WalesOnline. 10 June 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  7. ^ ""Die große Chance": Zehn Acts bei der zweiten Live-Show". Vienna Online (in German). 22 October 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Gidley, Sophie (8 November 2013). "Artist Nathan Wyburn an icon in Austria after reaching final 15 of talent show Die Grosse". WalesOnline. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  9. ^ 11 April 2013 at 2:25 pm (11 April 2013). "Artist creates Thatcher portrait from coal". Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Nathan Wyburn Art - Timeline - Facebook". Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  11. ^ "Artist Paints a Taylor Swift Portrait Using Starbucks Coffee". Starbucks Newsroom. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Nathan Wyburn – Interview". 
  13. ^ "Nathan Wyburn: "Not That Kind Of Art" – Events". Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Price, Karen (2 May 2015). "Royal baby birth: The first portrait as artist Nathan Wyburn reveals his creation made from 1,000 babygroes". Wales Online. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Cwtch magazine" (PDF) (8 ed.). Spring 2015. 
  16. ^ "Ebbw Vale artist creates pizza portraits for Father's Day (From South Wales Argus)". Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "Nathan Wyburn wants art world to 'take him seriously' – BBC News". 15 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Nathan Wyburn Archives - Ripley's Believe It or Not!". Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Sands, Katie (29 December 2015). "Food artist and former Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist Nathan Wyburn launches debut book". Wales Online. Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  20. ^ Owens, David (19 December 2015). "Dad's Status Quo dream comes true thanks to pictures of Matchstick Men". Wales Online. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  21. ^ Williams, Kathryn (16 December 2015). "Star Wars characters made out of FOOD by artist Nathan Wyburn". Wales Online. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  22. ^ Houghton, Tom (30 August 2016). "Watch as Gene Wilder recreated in CHOCOLATE as tribute to star". Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  23. ^ "Young Persons Champion". Pride Cymru. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  24. ^ "Nathan Wyburn – Interview – EQView". EQView. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Obama Inauguration Equal Gay Rights Art! Nathan Wyburn on YouTube
  26. ^ "Photographer Proves Redheads Are 'Red Hot'". 31 May 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  27. ^ "The Pinc List 2016: The 40 most influential LGBT people in Wales". 13 August 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2016. 

External links[edit]