Kyan Patel, speaking from a Wake Forest University art studio, explained that he begins by sketching out a rough draft of the subject before adding in finer details. He starts at the head and works his way down, paying attention to every small aspect.
Currently, he is focusing on perfecting the burnt orange color on a portrait of Isaiah Bond, a new receiver for Texas who previously played for Alabama. Bond is one of several athletes at the college and professional level who have been featured in Patel’s portraits.
Patel explained that using a color that the school is known for can be challenging the first time, as he blended orange onto his canvas.
Patel is a first-year student studying art and economics at Wake Forest University. He received a scholarship based on his artistic abilities, which he inherited from his family.
Patel shared that his mother and grandparents are all talented artists, and his mother even attended art school in New York. Initially, he viewed art as a personal interest and skill, but during high school, he began to see it as a potential avenue for future opportunities.
One of those opportunities arose when he helped out his high school friend Andre Greene plan his commitment. Greene was a four star wide receiver prospect with offers from schools like Clemson, Georgia and Oregon. He chose UNC, and a painting by Patel of Greene in a UNC jersey helped him reveal it.
According to Patel, the incident gained national attention and received significant coverage in the days following. This is when it all escalated.
The news of the impressive commitment quickly reached UNC head coach Mack Brown, who visited St. Christopher’s School just three days later. At the meeting, the football coach introduced Brown to Patel, who then went on to create a portrait of Brown.
Patel shared, “He extended an invitation for me to visit North Carolina and gave me a tour of the football stadium and its facilities. He was a very friendly and amiable person.” Patel also mentioned, “This experience made me realize that I was venturing into uncharted territory. I began researching and discovered that there are not many artists who focus on painting athletes.”
Patel began communicating directly through messaging and email with numerous athletes. Afterwards, he created portraits of Clemson’s running back Will Shipley and former UNC receiver Josh Downs.
Patel stated that both they and I would share the content on our respective social media pages. As a result, my social media presence expanded and I received increased publicity, leading to more athletes contacting me for my creations.
The initial twelve pieces were complimentary, but currently, Patel’s creations are requested and paid for by the athlete. He aspires to further develop his business to a level where he can produce two paintings for each athlete – one for personal possession and one for them to market and profit from legally through NIL.
Patel stated that they are actively seeking to utilize NIL in a manner where both the athlete and themselves benefit financially, such as through selling a portion of the athlete to a college, university, or fan.
Patel’s big opportunity came through social media, but it should not be overlooked that he has dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to perfecting his craft.
Patel stated that they spend four hours in the studio every day and are always present. They emphasized the importance of commitment and constantly working.
Kyan Patel has created portraits for over fifty athletes, such as UNC’s RJ Davis and Armando Bacot, Duke’s Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor, and even NFL receiver Deandre Hopkins. His website, Kyanpatel.com, and Instagram account, @Kyanpatel, feature his portfolio.
Patel expressed his excitement at having the opportunity to work with individuals he has admired for years. Meeting and conversing with them has been an incredibly cool experience for him.