From of a steady stream of very excellent grads from Dublin’s National College of Art and Design, Conor Nolan‘s illustration is charming, fun, but we think it has somehwat of a dark side: there’s a nice melancholy about the characters in his work. We swung by his Dublin studio to chat about the city and how he’s evolving his work…
Hey Conor, how’s your day going?
Hey! Going good. It’s really nice out today. I’m getting through some bits of work before I pack up some stuff for the post office and head back here to draw for a bit.
Tell us a little bit about your studio (where it is, what you’ve got in there)
So I just moved in here, I’m in Harold’s Cross in Dublin. It’s a really nice area just outside the city centre,, like 15 minutes on the bike. I’m kind of amazed, it’s a great spot.
Before moving in I made a new tabletop for my desk that has plenty of room so I can switch between messy inky paper stuff and the digital end of things, and I’m a bit of a hoarder for books and zines so my bookshelf is coming along nicely. If I see anything risograph printed that I like the look of I seem to be unable not to get it. Any time I go abroad I try to pick up some stuff, so I have a bunch of things from Desert Island in New York, Brighton Illustration Fair, a Riso conference in the Netherlands called Magical Riso, and some great other bits too.
On the walls I’ve got a good mix of mood images, my own work, postcards and other bits to keep the place interesting, too.
When you’re in there, how do you maintain your focus?
Ha! My concentration can come and go when I’m just doodling personal stuff, but I like to keep making cups of tea that keep me at the desk, and I’ll pop on some tunes and just try to keep it interesting, messing with different brushes, pens, papers, cutting and sticking stuff.
What do you keep / have in there to inspire you?
Looking at it now, It seems to be a lot of riso and screen printed works by artists or studios I like. I find it easy to use print and process to work through an idea so it’s really helpful to be able to place stuff in that context. There’s also picture books, some cool comics by people like Aisha Franz or Simon Hanselmann, and some of my own projects that I want to make more of, like painted skateboards, ceramics, things like that.
Last time we spoke, you mentioned you were evolving your style a little: tell us a little bit about how and why…
Ah, yes. Style is a funny thing I think. It seems to want to shift and change and circle back to itself over time, so I’m trying to just enjoy that process. I recently got to thinking that a lot of my work is half traditional and half digital, and I feel like, though that works and has worked for me for a long time, there’s a bit of a disconnect there. I like the idea of making work that feels like the ideas are coming straight out onto the page, so I’ve been drawing more with ink and just keeping things loose. I think that translates really well to other mediums too, like screen printing or ceramics, where your hands are more directly involved in the making of the image. So I guess that’s what’s been on my mind. It’s fun but can be frustrating too, ha. I find with different briefs or prompts I’m kind of drifting in a couple of directions with it.
Name the best snack spots near your studio…
There’s a few really nice coffee spots near the studio like Brew 204 which is by a small park that’s good for a stroll. If you’re in Dublin getting donuts from the hatch at the Rolling Donut is a must.
… and the best lurk spots (bars pubs cafes gallerys shops etc)
For galleries I’d recommend Damn Fine Print and the Library Project, as well as Hens Teeth. For pubs the only one you need is the Glimmer Man in Stoneybatter.
You can check out a few pieces by Conor on our webshop here.