I studied goldsmithing and jewellery design at art college in Belfast back in the 80s but it really wasn’t for me. At the same time I was creeping around in the dead of night doing paste-ups all around Belfast which was another form of street art.
I was very much into character design for many years. Tim Burton came along and that was the real game changer for me. All of my characters after that were created using only black, red and white and were a bit creepy. About four years ago I decided to re-evaluate where my art was going and began a series of murals called ‘The Dogs on the Street’. I used three ‘scary’ breeds of dogs in my art work as a metaphor for not judging people by how they look. Typically, people on Facebook send me photos of their family pets, such as Dobermans, Staffies and Rottweilers, which I paint in a colourful, playful way to remove any sense of aggression. The murals have taken on a life of their own now and I am still painting dogs almost exclusively although my character sketchbooks are never too far away.
The wall very much dictates what I will paint. I have a library of photos that people have sent me over the years and I will generally match the space with a dog. For instant at Hit the North this year my space was down an alleyway in Belfast city centre. I decided to paint my own husky pup about to fall asleep as the alleyway is quiet and out of the way. It just seemed to work and I have got a lot of publicity and positive vibes from people who have seen it. My favourite piece is usually the last one that I finished, until I start becoming self-critical and picking holes in it.
Ireland is a force to be reckoned with now globally in most art forms as the internet has made the world a much smaller place and we are all living in one big shop window. My friend Matthew Knight is a genius when it comes to creating characters and never has a sketchbook out of his hand. I also like Irish street artist Dan Leo whose style is simple yet sublime. I could stare at one of his pieces for hours.
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