|Maori artist Douglas Ferris at work in his Hastings studio|
So why did he focus on portraits of Maori? Ferris said he had admired "the special spirit that our Maori people innately possess" and that he particularly "enjoyed capturing this human spirit in representational art". Capturing the pride of "our people" in his portraiture is paramount to Douglas. Ferris says he doesn't take it to heart when people criticise him for selling portraits of Maori (see our previous post on the controversy about prints of Maori portraits by Goldie & Lindaur), he gets "thousands of thanks for making it possible for relations to have a picture of their relation".
Ferris' classical art education background sees him looking to masters of representational art such as Carravagio, Rembrandt and Velazquez for inspiration rather than to other contemporary NZ artists and he describes the process of creating his Maori portraits in characteristically straight forward terms "I look, I see, I create". All of Douglas' prints are held in stock at New Zealand Fine Prints - at just $29.95 each his studies are some of the most popular prints in the Maori art collection with customers often buying several prints at a time to frame as a series.