We recently connected with Matt O’Halloran, an illustration student based in the South-West of the UK, to hear his story and share it with you. Over the past few years, Matt has been growing his portfolio of magnificent illustrations. Mostly black and white (with some splashes of color), they often combine elements of animals and humans. Within each piece you may catch a glimpse of a face close to Matt in his life, a bit of himself, and a bit of nature. We hope you enjoy our talk with Matt and some selections of his work below.
I see you are a current student. Can you tell us a bit about your experience at Plymouth University?
Well I’m actually a direct entry student to Plymouth from South Devon College; I spent 2 years there and at the end exhibited at New Designers which really opened my eyes to just how vast the illustration industry is! Back then I was playing around with printing methods like silkscreen and trace monoprint but always sketched out my ideas first and this is what I wanted to do coming to Plymouth this year. This year really gave me a kick up the arse to take it a bit more seriously and continued to open me up to new ways of working; although there’s so much to take in that I’m still uncertain of what direction to take after University!
What is the significance of animals in your work?
Personally I do have a love for animals and like to include them where ever I can. I also find there form to be a challenge, I never know how much detail to add in, take out, where to put it etc. I’ve used them in some pieces to portray an aspect of our personality or a feeling and really enjoy making those connections, i think sometimes people forget that we’re animals ourselves.
Can you tell us about the process you use to make these pieces? What materials do you use? Additionally, why are you attracted to using only a small amount of color or no color at all?
It’s strange I get spurs of inspiration, like there could be ideas rattling around in my head and sometimes all it takes is one overheard word or conversation to bring it all together, from there I just start writing down ideas and doodling away, I don’t like to start pieces with no idea on what direction to take it. I use fine liners and on occasion biro pens because that’s what I have next to me, plus I like the idea of being able to produce something with cheap, basic materials which is always a good thing. I’ve always been drawn to black and white work over vibrant, colourful pieces so it’s mainly personal preference.
Do you use live models for your portraits? Do you refer to pictures, your imagination, or a combination?
Typically I’ll work from photos I’ve taken of people I know, I much prefer to have something in front of me I can work from or even several different pictures to gain inspiration. My own imagination does play a part in it even if it’s only minor as I feel it makes the illustrations more mine and individual.
What plans and dreams do you have for your life as an artist after you graduate? Would you like to be a full-time artist and make your living that way? Any specific plans to do so?
To be honest I really can’t answer this question as I have absolutely no idea! I would absolutely love to be a full time artist but at the same time draw something because I want to(I have to admit the idea of work being waking up in the morning and 2 minutes later being at a desk working with a cup of tea still in your boxers is pretty appealing!). I’m not sure on how to approach this though, I think that’s what I’ve struggled with the most is getting my work noticed enough for potential clients to want to get in contact with me, the answer though right now is to just get my work on as many illustration sites and blogs as possible and see what happens, who knows maybe the right people notice it!
Do you have any thoughts about the art world today? Better yet, do you have any advice for the artists who visit our website every day? What have you learned that can help and inspire the rest of us?
If I had to give any advice to artists visiting it would have to be don’t be afraid to submit and show of your work. So many times I see artists shy away from showing of work because they look at other peoples and think that their own just isn’t good enough (I did!) but they have to remember that it’s all down to personal preference. I’m not sure I can give any thoughts on the art world outside of University as I’m still fairly new to it. I think the best advice I can give to be inspired is try to expose yourself to as much artwork as possible, visit exhibitions, browse communities of creative’s and I’ve learnt from other Illustrators I’ve got in contact with to get on these communities yourself, expose your own work and hopefully inspire other people since that would be great!