Artist interview: Aidan Sloan
Aidan Sloan was one of our two runners up for this years Wraptious Competition. We love his dynamic painting style - so much so that we will be trialing a few of his designs on our website over the next six months. We asked Aidan some quick questions about his artwork and goals for the future.
1) How long have you been painting for? Did you go to art school?
I left secondary school at 16 and began working at various different jobs, none of which were in the art industry but rather art remained a hobby. I have always enjoyed producing pieces of art and began pencil sketching when I was a child. My mum still proudly brings out the drawings I produced from around age 8 to show off at family gatherings. I do not have formal training but rather taught myself through following my passion, research, experimentation, making mistakes and trying again. In 2015 my wife convinced me to try painting but I wasn’t sure about it. Within a month I had fallen in love with the new medium I was trying and the new possibilities it was opening to me.
2) What or who has inspired your style?
I draw inspiration for my art form my wife and children, they are the reason why I do what I do. My wife Dearbhla, always gives me an honest critique and her hard work ethic keeps me driven to push myself and develop my work and passion for what I do further each day. My 3 (soon to be 4 children) keep me on my toes.
Following the birth of our third child in 2016, I started a career break from the Civil Service; the main reason for the career break was due to childcare costs but it was also my excuse to give my art a real go and carve a path for myself within the art industry. I create my work in between school runs, making lunches and dinners and the bedtime madness that three children bring with them. I am continually having to work harder on my paintings as my children are now getting harder to impress but that to me is a good thing as I will always strive to capture their attention with my newest creations.
With regards to inspiration form the art world, I love the work of Christian Hook and Colin Davidson. The movement that Christian Hook is able to capture within his paintings, without losing the reality of the work, is something that I find inspires some of my work but also is something that I also strive to achieve on a similar level one day. Colin Davidson is a local artist to my home and his level of success in the art industry is very inspirational to a self-taught artist form rural County Down. His recent portraits have also captured my attention, and painting on a similar large scale is something I aim to do in the not so distant future – I just have to keep building myself up to understanding the required techniques needed for up scaling.
3) What's your process when creating an image?
My process depends on what my final aim is. To start with I always have music playing, the music always helps me get lost in my work. I then establish what my canvas will be; it could be a traditional canvas, slate, an old stretched leather jacket, wooden boards and more recently I have started to paint on reclaimed wooden boards. I sketch a loose outline on the chosen ‘canvas’ and I usually start by detailing the eyes and working my way outwards. Depending on the nature and character of the subject, I allow them to influence the style whether it’s through bold strokes and colours or fine lines and calculated markings.
4) What are your favourite things to draw?
My passion is to create; to produce all styles of paintings ranging from straight forward portraits and animal paintings to adventurous abstract colour creations. I allow the subject to influence how the final piece will turn out; I let my art flow and change through a creative process until I achieve the results I desire which can range from conservative portraits to more abstract interpretations.
At present, I really enjoy producing animals – from abstract versions to more realistic ones. My debut exhibition in November 2017 was name ‘Canvas Creatures’ and displayed animal portraits from cows, to elephants, to birds, wolves and more.
Cows are definitely a favourite however I really enjoy painting birds too. Any animal that displays character that I can capture in a painting.
5) How do you promote your work?
Well I do too but it was Dearbhla that first started promoting my work on social media and built up my following. Since then she has worked hard to build my social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram mainly. Social Media is my main tool for promotion but local papers and online news agencies have picked up on some of my work too. I partnered with the Balmoral Show in 2017 to launch their tickets sales. They raffled off tickets along with a print of one of my paintings as part of their promotion process.
I also use my work to do as much charity work as possible; if you have a gift like art then why not use it to give back to charities and those in need.
6) What's the most challenging aspect to being an artist?
Trusting your own instincts and not letting self-doubt over some pieces of work creep in. Stepping outside of my comfort zone has also been challenging however it has also been the most rewarding, if I had never decided to take the jump into painting I don’t know what I would be doing now but one thing is for sure, I definitely wouldn’t be doing something that I love so much.
"Trust your instincts and embrace your failures, do not let mistakes put you off but rather let them inspire you to succeed"
7) What piece of advice would you give an emerging artist?
Despite these being the most challenging parts of being an artist, I think they are also vital to allow you as an artist to grow so I would encourage any artist to trust your instincts and embrace your failures, do not let mistakes put you off but rather let them inspire you to succeed.
Do not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone because you never know what direction it will take you.
I always remind myself that art has a different meaning to everyone so don’t let that one criticism become louder that the 99 compliments. Not everyone will like your work or appreciate your style but that is okay because you are producing work that you are happy with and you will find your audience.
8) In an ideal world, what would you like to be doing?
In an ideal world I would still be doing what I do now but on a larger scale; I would love to be showcasing my work around the world and holding exhibitions worldwide. I would also have a gallery/coffee shop that would enable new and emerging artists to debut and showcase their work.
I would also be spending some time traveling and seeing work of other artists as well as taking the opportunity to study and learn more about my favourite subjects - animals.
You can find Aidan's work very soon on our website, or why not follow him on Instagram @AidanSloanArt