Gemma Clark: When did you realise you had a love of art and wanted to study it?
Alan Hurley: As long as I can remember I loved drawing and painting. I remember my aunt got me an art case full of materials when I was about four or five and that really started it for me. I continued it throughout school, but I didn’t really improve until my last year.
GC: So you were a late bloomer in art?
AH: If anyone is reading this and is frustrated with their own ability, don’t worry. Just keep at it. You WILL get better if you work and want it. I studied it academically for a year but I knew straightaway it wasn’t for me – but I do study it in my own time.
GC: What is your favourite medium? I’ve seen examples of your work in both pen and ink and paint and you seem well skilled in both.
AH: It varies. I like just trying to make art. I love watercolours, oil, pencil, ink, and I’ve gotten into collage over the past year. If I HAD to choose (you do), it would be painting with watercolours.
GC: Who/what inspires you? Do you find it easier to work from pictures or live subjects?
AH: Pictures are easier since you can take your time and not have to worry about the model getting tired or moving. I’ve worked a lot with models too and it’s always interesting. For years, though, I was afraid of using photo references because it made me feel like a fraud – which is crap. I think photo references make you a technically better artist.
GC: How do you feel social media has affected the art world? It’s how I found you. Do you think it has made art more accessible or damaged the integrity of the old ways of gallery viewing?
AH: It’s brilliant. It allows someone who wouldn’t have a chance to get their art seen, to do so. Nothing will compare with seeing art in person, so that will never die. But social media is a great way of getting your art out there. When I started, just a few likes on a painting would inspire me to make another and then another. The fans built up and expected more work from me, which forced me to make some more. This became a habit for me and I improved greatly over the last three years. So I’m definitely a fan of social media.
GC: How successfully do you feel you’ve used it?
AH: If I didn’t start a Facebook page, my ability wouldn’t be where it is right now. Not that I think I’m amazing or anything, but you can clearly see an improvement in my art over the years since I started it.
GC: It says on Twitter you hunt dinosaurs in your spare time – why? Have you ever met a dinosaur? They’re not friendly. Do you not think they have the right to life too?
AH: If they were cool to people, integrated a little…. maybe.
GC: You claim to be in love with Claire Danes – what do you think of Homeland? Damien Lewis as a co-star, hit or miss? (He is to me what Claire Danes is to you).
AH: Homeland was great in season 1. Season 2 was okay, but seemed to be losing the plot. I haven’t enjoyed season 3 so far. Damien Lewis is a fine actor no doubt, but I wouldn’t be his greatest fan. I love his wife though (in Homeland). Jesus, I mean…. wow!
GC: Art school is notorious for the conflicting views that it is either full of hipsters or pretension. I’ve never been to art school but can you shed light on the truth? Any great art school stories you can share?
AH: I went there for a year and didn’t enjoy it at all. I then got a Business Informations Systems (basically computer science with business) degree at University College Cork. I’m graduating Tuesday. I think you’re much better off making the art you want to make and making artistic discoveries on your own and evolving in your own time. Then again, I know a good few people who loved art school – but it wasn’t for me.
GC: Who is your hot tip as an artist to watch? Check out Andrew Salgado. He’s amazing. Do you paint with a message in mind?
AH: I don’t try to change the world with my art and I never will. I just like to paint pretty pictures.
GC: What has been the driving force behind the pursuit of such a challenging career path? You are obviously very talented, but has that knowledge been enough?
AH: I’ve always loved making art so that’s what I always wanted to do. I’ve only ever wanted to be an artist since I was a child. It’s all I’ll ever want to do. I don’t think of how challenging it is. I just try and get it done.
GC: What do you hope to do/achieve with your art? Is there a career path in mind?
AH: My goal is to be a full-time artist. I’m doing pretty well so far and the next year will be even better.
GC: What’s your favourite piece ever/ favourite of your own creations?
I like the last piece I did. I haven’t titled it yet. I did it out of the blue. Actually, that’s a good name. I might call it that.
Gemma Clark in conversation with Irish artist Alan Hurley