About the artist

Matt O’Halloran was born in Torquay, Devon and attended Plymouth University studying Illustration. He enrolled one day purely by accident. He had finished his foundation degree in Art and design and unsure what to do with himself or what to do for money he then blindly signed up to a course at the University and the next thing he knew was studying illustration at Plymouth university. Graduation came and went skipping out on the graduation ceremony, a few years passed ad it was only when he was made abruptly redundant from his day job that Matt took to Illustration again and a chance encounter led to his first exhibition. Since then Matt has taken part in several exhibitions in the area being featured in galleries with Studio 102, Plymouth University, New blood, New designers and Artisan Gallery and taken part in online interviews with Artinspire, Nonsense society, Artistsinspireartists and Artsillustrated. He has also worked on Private commissions with individuals providing illustrations to accompany poetry or for the home and projects with local business' such as Apple and parrot, Hair Royale and South Devon College.

Why do you do what you do?

Matt has always been driven by an appetite to express himself through creativity having always been a part of his identity and plays a crucial role in trying to interpret the world around him and a form of escapism from all the chaos we see in our world and our minds. He is infatuated by how Artists can be unapologetically raw and honest in the way they perceive the world around them and strives to do the same. He has always gravitated towards the types of work that sparks curiosity evident in his work which deliberately tries to hide the deeper reflections through art that on the surface looks fun and light-hearted but at further inspection echoes much darker subject matter important to him from mental health, social norms and violence in today’s world.

When did you start drawing?

Matt has been drawing ever since he can remember, as a boy instead of going out in the sun you would often find him hidden away in the corner of a room drawing away with a pencil, biro or any tool he could find. It wasn’t until later in his school life though that he began to consider taking it seriously enough to study it over any other subject. In a way his use of only basic tool growing up has shaped his core belief that anyone can be creative with whatever tools at their disposal given their determination and passion. Matt feels that we increasingly live in a digital age and sees the art landscape as saturated with it and appreciates the more hands-on approach that some of his inspirations take to illustration.

How do you work?

Matts working process is typically different to other artists in that its rare for him to keep a sketchbook with a collection of drawings and doodles. Matt traditionally doesn’t keep a sketchbook, instead drawing on scrap bits of paper he has laying around that in many cases he refers to and even collages into current illustrations. He will begin using a notebook jotting down a variety of ideas from lots of sources such as the news, social media or in conversation. This will lead into studying the subject matter at hand and collecting visual imagery that’s associated to the topic and coming up with multiple concepts thinking about layout, visual appeal and the statement he wants to make. Matt prefers to convey the deeper meanings of his work on a more personal basis, leaving it up to the viewer to question it and allow them to find a purpose that resonates with who they are.

What/who are your inspirations?

Matt finds inspiration from all kinds of different styles, traditionally though Matt will lean towards more modern artists who commonly use a hands-on approach to their work such as Banksy, David Bray, Mark Powell, Mr. Frivolous, James mylne and Russ mills to name a few. What is alluring about these artist though is that they have been successful in making a career out of their practice, they’re completely self-sufficient, independent and completely in control of their own subject matter. Matt will also find inspiration from his passions outside of artist he admires, such as the street art community, pop culture and tattoo culture which can be evident in his work.

What has been a key experience in your development as a creator?

He will always remember the first time he attended his first exhibition and the excitement he experienced, it was the first time he was able to engage with the art community in person and was overwhelmed by the sheer level of creativity that converged in one place with so many people together trading creative ideas and visualising the world in their own way. It was a feeling he wouldn’t experience again for some time as he went into normal working life which always left him with a feeling of unfulfillment that wouldn’t be satisfied until he engaged in the community once again.

What is your favourite piece and why?

Matt is unfortunately a victim of his own criticisms and tends to dislike everything he produces soon after he’s done it and looks to try and create something better. A lot of this discarded work he will often return to though at later dates to either improve or re-use through collage into new pieces.