Conveying Concepts with Colour

Conveying Concepts with Colour

Having featured in our Belladonna and Agóid print issues, illustrator Ciara O’Neill shared her creative inspirations and favourite artworks with us here on the site.


How long have you been creating?

I’ve been painting since a young age but consistently I’ve been creating since I was about 17 or 18. I’m 24 now so that makes it about six years.

What made you get into art and illustration?

My mother always had an interest in art and encouraged me to create from a very young age. I was always taught “why buy it when you can make it?” and that there is more of emotional and sentimental value in something that you have created with love over something you’ve bought from a store. That upbringing combined with a very supportive art teacher I had in secondary school led to me pursuing an education in art and visual culture.

How has your style developed over the years?

I think I’ve always worked with in the same or similar colour schemes but my drawing style has become more two dimensional and stripped back. The more work I make the more I rely on blocks of colour and bold lines rather than shading, lighting and dept. I think my strengths lie more in use of colour over my figurative drawing skills.

Do you/have you experimented with other art forms?

Yes, in college I majored in the medium of paint. Like my illustrations, my paint works always focused heavily around use of colour. My three years studying paint have definitely influenced how I approach my illustrations. Paintings can be layered up and changed around and so can digital illustrations which is why I think I have gravitated towards that particular medium.


Did you study art formally (at college etc)? If so, what was your experience? Do you feel it helped you?

Yes I studied Fine Art and Visual Culture in NCAD. Putting aside problems the college administration was having with class sizes and funding at the time I attended, I found my experience to be overwhelmingly positive. I am fully aware that many people have made a successful career in the art world without a formal education, but I don’t think I personally would have the same work ethic I do now if I had not studied fine art in college. Time management, effective work ethic and self-evaluation and criticism would not have been skills I ever naturally possessed and I’m unsure if they are skills I would have ever developed had I not gone to college.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Usually from events occurring within my own life and from my own personal reactions to things I see and read about.

Are there any Irish artists you think are shit hot right now?

Bronagh Lee (@bunti.bee) , Niamh Coffey (@niamhnomilktwosugars) and Dearbhla Ryan (@fia1994) are my favourites at the moment. They are all killing it and the amount of work they produce is amazing. I definitely recommend checking out their online stores if you are looking for some new artwork for your place!

Do you come up with a message to communicate and develop your art from there, or do you make art that you feel is beautiful and then shape this to whichever topic matters most to you?

Like I said, my inspiration usually comes from events occurring within my own life, so I guess you could say its conceptual considering the starting point of a work tends to be a response to an event. I then usually spend some time after that figuring out how I can convey this reaction within a somewhat narrative illustration and what colours best suits my emotions and reactive feelings.

Browse the selection of Ciara's work in the gallery below and follow her Instagram here.

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