Niall uses his work as a way to explore his environment, to help make sense of it all.
Q. What led you to start making art?
A. I’d say curiosity is definitely the driving force behind my work, both in what forms I find interesting to get down, but also in how I find it most rewarding to work. I’ve always found sketching and mark making a very satisfying way of understanding my environment, and more generally, understanding my relationship with an environment. I’ve always kind of viewed my work as an investigative tool, using image to poke and prod and understand a little better.
I think that curiosity permeates my process as well. In planning a project from ideation, initial sketches and colour selection, all the way into making the final outcome, I love playing around with new materials and techniques.
I think more than anything though, I can’t understate how much I just really fucking love making things that look cool. Making wicked shit, is the absolute best. I’m very lucky to be on my way to be doing it for a living.
. How do you get started?
A. No matter what project I’m working on, there are always two incredibly important first stages in ideation. Firstly, research. Just trying to just throw down as many ideas as possible. And then secondly, a run. I honestly can’t advocate exercise enough, as a catalyst for creativity. Being out and about, getting your blood pumping is honestly a great way to let your mind drift around in search of new ideas.
Besides that, a good strong coffee and some Shania Twain is always a pretty sure fired way to get me motivated.
Q. What makes you happy?
A. Cool shit. I just absolutely love getting excited over absolutely nothing. If I can see that a significant effort and consideration has been put into a design, I go crazy for it. I love the idea of someone putting their creativity all into a pack of paracetamol.
More generally, outside of creative stuff, just everyone being nice to each other always puts me in a good mood. Summer in Hyde Park, with everyone out and about in the sun, tinnier in hand, having a good time. That sort of thing. Video games? they’re pretty great. A good book? Although I’m reading ‘A Little Life’ at the moment, and that’s sad as shit. Good book though…
Yeh, basically everything. I’m very easily pleased.
Q . If you could travel back one year (pre Covid), what would you tell yourself?
A. Just keep your head down, and use this as an opportunity to get rich quick on hand sanitisers and face mask stock.
In reality though, I honestly don’t think anything I’d be able to tell past me would change what I’ve been up to over the past 12 or so months… It’s been a wild year.
What music do you listen to when making?
A. It really depends on what I’m making, and what mood I’m in going into that work. I’m a real sucker for some easy breezy listening, when the task at hand isn’t too high energy. Your Father John Misty, Slaughter Beach Dog, Peach Pit and Phoebe Bridgers kinda energy. If I’m in the early stages of a project, and I need something with a bit more energy, anything with a great baseline is a bit of me. Tribe Called Quest,
Music I’m listening to a lot at the moment:
Tribe Called Quest
De La Soul
Toro Y Moi
Q. What is the future of your artform?
A. I think it’s probably too soon to tell. You can be sure of some more murals popping up over the next few months, and I intend to hone the animation skills I’ve begun developing in earnest, but beyond that, I honestly have no clue. I think I’m someone who quite enjoys the serendipity that comes with rolling with the punches, so I try not to think about the future too much. Might ruin the surprise.
. What's next for you as an artist?
A. Immediately, graduation! I’ve really enjoyed my time at university, I’ve made some amazing mates, and it’s been a fantastic opportunity for creative exploration… but I’m also really looking forward to having some time away from institutions, to explore my creative practice outside of mark schemes and grades. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been able to just take some time off, and do what I want to do. I’m really going to try to lean into that post grad, and hopefully some exciting opportunities will emerge out of the creative mess I make.
I have a few little projects bubbling away that will hopefully come to fruition over the summer, so I’m looking forward to hanging around in Leeds in the meantime!