The Motion Maker | Interview with Lois O’Hara, Designer & Illustrator

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Illustrator & Designer Lois O’Hara experiments with motion and her work represents a positive outlook on life.

One of the most exciting things about writing a blog is having the chance to discover new and exciting creatives. Sometimes, they even email you. When Lois O’Hara pinged into my inbox a few months ago, I was INSTANTLY impressed with the recent graduate and her fresh take on the illustrative world. Clearly inspired by the likes of Kate Moross and Camille Walala in terms of work ethic, O’Hara has developed her own personal style like no other and is a creative that pushes the boundaries with mediums, process and colour.

Self-admittedly obsessed with process, her vibrant, diverse and creative practice takes forms in prints, paintings, murals, fabric and even furniture. Motion and fluidity is a huge part of her design journey and combined with her love of bold colour combinations, the final result is normally a wave of psychedelia, with streaks of Pop Art influences – I immediately thought of Peter Blake’s Babe Rainbow. Increasingly interested in social topics, O’Hara strives to create narratives behind her colourful creations with the expression of emotions and feelings. It would be interesting to know what you see when you look at her work. TELL ME. TELL HER.

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Blue waves on transparent plastic showcase fluidity

Since university O’Hara has delved into working life with a number of exhibitions under her belt including the ‘Jealous Needs You’ held at Jealous Studios and The Saatchi Gallery as well as two of her own solo shows. In this present day printmaking, design & art direction, illustration, site-specific murals and painting are all firmly present in her portfolio – whatta girl! Read our interview below to find out a little more.

Describe your work for me in three words:

 Fluid, Thoughtful and Positive

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O’Hara also experiments with fabrics and typography.

You studied at AUB (Arts University Bournemouth). How was your experience and how do you think your course shaped you?

During my time at Uni, I would spend hours experimenting. I felt as though many students on my course would often take advice and direction from the teachers, which restricted their vision. I was quite rebellious as I saw different things starting to happen in the art industry which we were not being taught. I remember specifically discovering the music video to ‘Praise’ by Tala & Sylas which Kate Moross designed and I thought, “wow why don’t we get taught things like this?”

My course was quite restricted so I taught myself lots of new things, then I eventually knew where I wanted to take my art career. I spent a lot of time in the screenprinting studio. Many of the other students didn’t seem phased by the process of making art. People say that the art industry is hard to get into, but I do wonder how many upcoming artists are truly passionate.

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Her work spreads joy with its colourful essence.

Your university life is also designed to make you experiment and find your calling. You say that you are fascinated by process, what was the defining moment when you realised this was where your interest was?

I used to work pretty much every night until the early hours of the morning, which I still kinda do, but on projects that were not related to my course. I would splash inks around, print, paint, invent new textures and film things such as the lights in my room, then see what I could do with the footage. You could argue that none of it was relevant but I was learning new techniques and producing interesting work which would benefit me beyond my time at University. This is when I realised that I was fascinated by process. I found my calling at Uni but I think this was due to having the time and headspace.

Sure thang! I’ve noticed that you like to experiment with your use of medium – I love your pieces which use transparent plastic. How do you think this impacts your work?

Thank you! I love working on plastic as this is how I can create softer textures, loose blends and it’s just not possible on canvas. I am obsessed with the idea of capturing the fluidity of an image in motion so working with plastic is great because it’s glossy, reflective and smooth. I find it exciting to experiment with different mediums and by being a multimedia artist, I appeal to a wide audience which means I am always working on a diverse range of projects.

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O’Hara has also worked on a number of murals.

You’ve also created a fair few murals, is this something you’d like to expand on in the future. Clearly, I’m a fan of the colourful wall! 

I believe that good design can transform a space. I want to keep on creating art murals – I am officially hooked. I love painting on huge walls as it’s physically challenging to do too. I could name so many areas that I think would look great with a splash of colour but the tricky thing is getting the permission to do so. I am currently working on an exciting project which will involve me painting on my biggest canvas to date. Hold tight!

You have hosted 2 solo exhibitions this year in Brighton. How do you find the experience from planning to execution?

I have found it exciting to curate my solo shows but also stressful! It is satisfying to see your work up on the wall and watch how others react. Lots of people say “wow I love the colours” which is great but there is usually a personal story/meaning behind the work so it is interesting to see which pieces people are most drawn to. You don’t get to witness this reaction when you put work up online. Even if people say something negative about my work, that’s better than nothing, as then I have learnt something.

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Process in an important part of O’Hara’s design journey.

And what was the biggest thing you learnt from it/what would you do next time?

To work even harder at the promo and to not curate an exhibition on the beach in the middle of winter! My 2nd show looked fab but it was absolutely freezing!

What’s your ultimate goal for 2018?

To work harder than ever, work on as many projects as possible and to invent a colour that has never been invented 😉

And we all know I’m on board with that.

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YOU ARE GOLD.

Is Lois one to watch? I THINK SO. Give her some love over on her website and her Instagram, and leave a comment if you approve! Catch more interviews with upcoming designers and artists here. 

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