5 Artists Answer the Question: “What Does Art Mean To You?”

We interview five Irish artists about their artistry, and ask what they think the importance of art is in today’s crazed world.

Their answers are both humbling and inspiring, as well as unsurprisingly entertaining. Each artist gives us a peak into why they chose art as their profession, and explain why they think anybody can be an artist.

Art-hoes and accountants in solidarity!

Caoilfhionn Hanton

Five different artists. Five distinct art-forms. Five fresh perspectives.

Let’s go:

Interviewees:

(Click pics to jump straight to interview!)

Caoilfhionn Hanton – Painter, street artist, and hysterical storyteller (see below).
(Waterford)
Niamh Farrello – Lead singer in acclaimed indie pop/rock band Ham Sandwich. (Dublin)
Shane Fitzpatrick – Designer and founder of own fashion brand Late2n. (Tipperary/Waterford)

Beau Williams – Celebrated poet and spoken-word artist. (USA/Galway)
SX2 – A duo of DJs/producers consisting of Clive(left) and Scott(right)
(Waterford)

Caoilfhionn Hanton

Caoilfhionn is a 21 y/o fine-arts student from Waterford, who does us all the kind service of regularly decorating the city with her talent for tasty murals.

Interviewing Caoilfhionn, we found that she is not just an incredible artist, but a hilariously witty writer, and somewhat of a fervent philosopher. She talks about courage in creation, and why even accountants can be artists!

“If your inner drive is screaming in the void to MAKE SOMETHING, you could probably call yourself an artist.

Q: Why, in your opinion, is it important to express yourself creatively?

A: It’s extreeeeemely important to express yourself creatively. No matter who you are, creativity inspires you. Even the accountants!  

Creativity’ doesn’t mean you need to try to sprinkle funny but inappropriate gifs into your business power-points. You’re not obliged to suddenly throw on an oversized tie-dye t-shirt and pop a little hoop earring into your ear. It especially doesn’t mean you need to stop listening to the radio, start only wearing black and convincing yourself you like super obscure dark ‘Sovietwave’ techno. (I just googled techno genres to get that definition, by the way, so Wikipedia could be having me on, but you get my gist).

Nope, it’s real. We found it…[YouTube link]

One of Caoilfhionn’s murals for ‘Waterford Walls’ Festival.

Secondly, not to be an anti-technology Karen, but I think it’s dangerously easy to consume and forget to create in this age of sOcIaL MeDiA. You could pass hours on TikTok looking at DIY tutorials, but how many of us are scared to try to create, ourselves?

Our first memories involve toys, games and fun. Slowly, we shun these innocent devices of childhood and start to categorise ourselves into our given roles in society. With a bit of courage, life could be spicier for all of us if we were to collectively forgo our egos and “notions” and to be ourselves.

Life is so short and we often don’t afford ourselves chances to be experimental with our lives as not to upset the status quo. Like literally before you know it, you’ve stopped swallowing small parts of plastic, and are on a fast track to your quarter life crisis and manically cutting your own fringe.

Having the kahoonas to express yourself creatively will be terrifying at first, but is ultimately so rewarding!

“Try an Amy-inspired eyeliner wing all the way to your hairline.

Wear Airmax with a dress. Start writing poetry, even though all you’ve ever known is engineering.”

Caoilfhionn wraps up speaking about her own journey into the arts:

I do think that art and the ability to creatively express should be accessible to everyone. I hate snobbery, first and foremost, and 100% believe that you don’t need a fine art degree to enjoy and make art. The “white men, white room, white wine” trope is actively being eroded by intersectionality, which is so exciting. I’m especially inspired by LGBTQ+ creators and “outsider art” (self-taught artists).

I had been self-taught until 2019. I knew I wanted to study fine art but due to the “what are ye gonna do for a living” ancient allegory, I discouraged myself. It didn’t seriously occur to me to try become an artist due to the risk of “failing” (not getting rich) and being mortified.

Since taking the college plunge, my eyes have been opened to new opportunities, and I now have the courage to say “I want to be an artist”.

Beautiful. Inspiring. Hilarious. Find more of Caoilfhionn’s work on our monthly gallery, or check out her website!


Niamh Farrello

Niamh is a hell of a frontwoman. Something we all need a bit more of in our lives. If you haven’t checked out Ham Sandwich already, you’ve been missing out. They make Irish indie that’s reminiscent of that Two Door Cinema Club vibe, but with a fierce female twist.

Niamh gives us an insight into her own life, describing what music means to her.

“I long to create…”

Illuminate, a HS song featured on our monthly playlist.

Q: How do you integrate art into your daily life?

A: I try to play music everyday. It’s amazing the power a favourite song has over your mood; especially in these uncertain times. I love painting and drawing but I think music is my choice of healer!

Q:  Do you think art is restricted to artists?

A: No, I don’t think so. Art should be for everybody. You may not consider yourself a creative person, but you can still get something from a piece of art. Everyone should be able to enjoy all art. 

Q: Could you live without art?

A: Definitely not. It has made up so much of my life I think I’d be lost without it! I think we all would. The world would be a less colorful place without art.

Short and sweet, Niamh couldn’t be more certain of the place of art in her life.

Amen, sister.

Amen.


Shane Fitzpatrick

Designer and founder of his own fashion brand Late2n, Shane’s interview expanded our views of art. Shane goes deep into how he sees art and design all around him in the plain, everyday.

Q: What does design mean to you?

A: I think if you’ve got a creative mindset you can see design anywhere. Whether it’s a jacket for cold winters day, or a sweeping brush, it’s gone through a design process. Multiple items around me could be seen as junk to many others. I make something useful from it.

This is how I view the everyday world.

Q: Pablo Picasso once stated: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Thoughts?

A:  The way I’d put this is: “Every child is an artist. It is then beaten out of you by societies’ way of how the world “should” work.”

Everything we are surrounded by as kids is art. We see art in every little thing. If you sit down with any kid, they will mostly always be doing something creative: whether it’s drawing, painting, building lego or making towns on Minecraft. These are all things that we are discouraged to continue exploring as we grow older because it’s “for kids”.

You’ll never get a real job doing that!”

I think because of this, people get scared to follow their dreams and continue on the creative path. The world thrives on fear. It’s up to us to break through it as we grow up.

A positive thing [is] that because of advances in technology, social media etc. people are now more open to viewing art as a credible way to make a living; which means more schools and programs will be open to allowing kids to make art, making this their goal as they continue to grow.

Shane ends with a nice piece of advice:

Not everybody wants to be an artist though, just because they can.

People should do what they want.


Beau Williams

Mr. Williams is a poet of the highest calibre. He’s also a spoken-word artist – representing Ireland in the 2019 World Poetry Slam – an avid arts activist, and just an all-round, genuine guy!

When we asked Beau to partake, we knew his answers would be poetic, but we didn’t realise they would also be so educational! We learned a lot.

“I use poetry to make sense of what is going on in my head and in my heart.”

Photograph by Robyn Nicole Towle

Q: How Does Spoken Word Compare to other Art-Forms?

A: It is hard to compare different art-forms to each other, but the major accomplishments of spoken word have to be the community aspect and the relatability.

Spoken-word is an umbrella term for any lyric-driven, performance-based art-form (i.e. rap, comedy, etc…).

Spoken word poetry is an intimate, interactive experience. A poem will never be read the same way twice; making each performance a unique one. Every crowd is different, every poet is different on different days; the poems hit differently on different days. This gives way for a precious you had to be there type of experience. It helps to bring new life to poetry and to lift it from the page.

There is nothing more validating than having this emotion inside of you – you feel like you are the only person who has ever felt this emotion – and then someone you’ve never met expresses that feeling EXACTLY, from the stage.

Spoken Word Poetry creates community, helps us work through trauma/emotion/experiences, and most of all it brings people together.

“Performance Poetry is the only art-form I know of where your idol can become your best friend.”

Q: Many people shudder at the thought of putting pen to paper. What would you say to those people?

A: If it is for an assignment, sorry you just have to do it. But if it is something creative you are trying to write, like poetry or a short story, the best suggestion is to just put pen to paper and go.

Don’t think about it.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE VULNERABLE.

The blank page is one of the best therapists you’ll ever have. It won’t ever judge you, it costs next to nothing, and it allows you to explore your own emotions, feelings, and experiences in your own way.

The urge [to write] can be compared to eating: you can eat when you aren’t hungry, but there are specific times when your body lets you know, DUDE YOU HAVE TO EAT RIGHT NOW.

When I have that gut urge that tells me, Beau, if you don’t sort out this stuff in your head, it’s going to explode, that’s when I write. The key is to never allow writing to become a chore.

I use poetry to make sense of what is going on in my head and in my heart.

And don’t forget: just because you wrote it doesn’t mean you ever have to share it.

Wise words from our writer friend. Find out more about Beau and read his poetry at his website, or alternatively, become a patron to his patreon, and get updates, personalised poems, and more!


SX2

As DJ’s we are always searching for new music that can inspire us to lay something down.

We reviewed SX2’s debut album Reflection, which came out just last month, on the music section of our website.

Q: Do you think it’s important for everyone to have a creative outlet?

A: Yes we think it is. We feel like everybody is born with a talent or some sort of creative outlet, and those who don’t express it, probably just haven’t discovered what that is yet.

If you were to sit down with your family or group of friends, and break everyone down one by one, you will find some sort of individual talent that everybody has, and with the ever growing age of social media, it gives us all platforms to share our creativity. 

It can come to people a bit more naturally than others, but if you work hard at something everyday consistently, you eventually will start seeing some positive results.

Q: Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Every artist was first an amateur“. Thoughts?

A: This actually resonates quite well to us because when we started doing music, we were of course, amateurs.

We’ve been doing music now for almost 7 years as we first started as DJ’s and then afterwards got into production. When we started we weren’t too sure on what we were doing but just kept going because it was like love at first sight.

In our experiences we have met people who say they want to be a DJ, but then they actually don’t want to go through the process of actually learning, and have those moments where you bang your head against the wall, asking yourself are you good enough.

A common thing we get when speak to people about DJ’ing and i feel a lot of other DJ’s will relate, is:

“I’d love to DJ, but i wouldn’t have a clue how to do it”

This then goes exactly to Emerson’s quote that we were all amateur’s not knowing exactly what we were doing when we started, but as you continue to grow and work at it, you will eventually starting learning and mastering your craft.

Now we are by no means calling ourselves the world’s best DJs because we are always learning, but it is a nice quote to think about sitting in our current position.


Always humble, you guys! And inspiring all the same. It’s a refreshing feeling to be told you can improve at anything with a little hard work, even if you feel like an amateur right now. (“How hard can running a blog be anyway?”, she said, naively.)


Wow.

Well, if that wasn’t a wealth of wisdom and inspiration, showing, for me, the diversity of sheer talent we currently hold on our fair isle.

Thank you Caoilfhionn, Niamh, Shane, Beau, and SX2.

We’re super grateful you not only took part in our interview, but gave some outrageously in-depth answers to our questions.

What more could we want, from our second blog post? – We have standards to live up to, now.

Let’s see if we can meet them next week…