October 24th, 2018
There is something soothing when looking at dark, twisted and macabre art. Maybe it’s the thought that it’s not happening to you, or it’s the comfort that others are also experiencing what you are going through and you aren’t alone. Regardless, the artwork by Eoin Meehan is dark, twisted and very macabre, which also transitions well to darker comic book characters such as the Joker from Batman, Tank Girl, Swamp Thing and Judge Dredd, each from their respective series. Eoin’s ability to pull you into his macabre world is an incredible skill, and for me, I cannot get enough.
Where are you from?
Portlaoise (it’s in the middle of Ireland), but living in Dublin city now.
How did you get started on your artistic journey?
It's always been part of my life really. As far back as I can remember I've been drawing and scribbling on everything and anything - school books, paper scraps, beer mats, anything that’s at hand. I had turned away from art for a long time but when my mam passed away last year she got me a new sketch book for Xmas before she passed and I set out to fill it up with new sketches so that got me started up again. My friend Martin Moore had a part to play, too, constantly pushing my work through his comic shop Celtic comics, I guess that kinda lit a fire under my ass causing some momentum for me start creating a steady flow of pieces.
What do you want people to feel when they see your work?
That's down to them. I just hope they feel something. Sometimes I am trying to put across something personal and I guess deep down you hope someone connects the dots; other times maybe a statement on life issues might be the theme so you do hope you put that across correctly, but for the most part I guess I just hope people will connect with the work and enjoy it in their own way and take away something for themselves.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere really. Books, music, movies, people, comics, life experiences, natural textures and other artists. But really for me everything goes back to Frankenstein; the book resonated with me so much as a child and has stayed with me ever since, it’s in everything I do as a core element and deeply personal. Old horror movies are a constant source of inspiration. I love old music flyers especially Raymond Pettibons work for Black Flag that's always had an influence on my work since I was a teenager; it's the heavy black and white imagery with the bad sense of humour yet a statement buried in there.
Texture plays a huge part in my paintings and I'm always looking out for some to inspire me. I love decayed textures or when nature reclaims manmade structure, flowing water leaving residue, or moss and plant life takin back space. It’s the organic natural flow versus the harsh lines of manmade structure that I just can't get enough of. I use it in almost everything I paint.
Music has always had a heavy roll in anything I do: Stone Temple Pilots, White Zombie, Tom Waits and anything by Mike Patton or old B-movie soundtracks are regular on my play list when I sketch up ideas. I have a great record of old horror and B-movie scores from the 50s that’s really a lot of fun to sketch to. A lot of my paintings I draw on life experience of myself and others, but try not to be too on the nose with my projected observations; I leave that open for the viewer to dig out. People-watching is always helpful; my most recent Judge Death piece is actually based on a real person I see around Dublin regularly. As for other artists, Gustave Dore has always been a big inspiration and more recently Jonathan Wayshaks work has really inspired me; his line work is incredible.
How would you describe your artwork?
I've been told it's grungy. I've had both my painting work and my illustration work described as grungy on separate occasions. I think that's probably a fair description. I've always shifted towards the lowbrow surreal, macabre, gothic horror end of things with my painting work and with my illustrated work, too. My comic stuff is definitely heavy 80s 90s based from the work I grew up on; lots of black and white inks. I lean into some dream-like imagery and a lot of my painting work is projection of emotions and life experiences.
What is your process, from start to finish, when creating a new piece?
Depends on if it's painting or illustration, but most pieces begin with an simple idea. Maybe it's the title to work from or a vision in my head, then I start with a simple sketch and that could be as simple as a stickman on the back of a train ticket. I will usually do a proper set up sketch for a painting and use that as my template to work from. If it's illustration or comic-based, I tend to start with a sketch in blue pencil. I love the feel of a Sanford cool-eras 20044: it's great for finding your mid tone.
Next, I will start to ink over the blue sketch with liner pens and brushed inks, sometimes watercolours, adding details and building outward. If I decide to go to colour digitally, I'll usually collaborate with my friend David or Stuart; I just don't enjoy the digital end of things. I prefer hands-on but they do a great job and I always look forward to seeing where they will take a piece. I use a lot of texture on my paintings that takes a lot of time to build, and a lot of layers and dry brushing and sometimes that part of it can take weeks before I ever even approach laying down the characters.
More recently, I have also moved into printing my work and that's changed up some of my process. I find myself thinking ahead to a finished print and what paper type to use, or matte or gloss. I've also begun printing basic sketches on laid paper that I then hand paint over, adding some individual details, creating multiple versions of one core image, each one unique.
Do you work on one piece at a time or do you have a few on the go?
I almost always have a few on the go. Sometimes as many as ten, or I might start on a piece, get bored, start another, then go back to the first one. I also lose pieces all the time!! Then they pop up months later.
How many unfinished pieces do you have? Why are they unfinished?
I have about 5 at the moment. It's kinda just how I work. I might start a piece and find I'm not sure where I want to go with it so I will leave it and I often find when I do that I might learn something on another piece that I then apply to the piece I stopped working on.
If you could combine three animals to make a super animal, what would they be?
Monkey with bat wings and the mouth of a giant snapping turtle.
What is a goal you set for yourself that you accomplished? How did that make you feel?
I always think it's best to keep goals small and achievable; you can build from that with little disappointment. Most recently I have moved into brush inks mixed with liner pens and white acrylic pen or tip ex I applied a lot of new techniques I've learned to a new judge death piece and it worked out so I was very happy with that. Still a lot to learn and a way to go yet but like I said, I keep the goals small. I was invited to my first comic con this year and was unemployed at the time so just getting ready for it was a struggle, sorting prints and all the cost involved but I was determined to make it work so that was a small goal I set and it worked out really well for me. I crossed paths with some other artists and writers and that has all been a benefit most notably having Glenn Fabry take the time to review my work and give me a few notes. I grew up on Glenn and Simon Biselys work, both having a huge influence on me, so that was a great experience!
How have you grown as an artist from when you started to now?
Lots of ways and I still feel I have a lot to learn and a lot of growth yet to explore. I think the biggest change is learning to stop and think about where I want to go with a piece. I used to rush my work and wing everything; I just wanted to get to the finish line. Now I find myself really thinking about what I’m doing and spending far more time on little details. I find I’ve become far more critical of my technical ability and I want to push myself more and more. I think that's a good thing.
How would you describe your studio space?
I've never really had a studio space. I tend to make do with what space I have, depending on where I am. At the moment it's the corner of my kitchen table. I keep a portable record player next to me to listen to music. The “Drive” soundtrack is my latest constant spinner. At least five of my paintings were done on the top of a four ring electric cooker: at the time I was living in a small one bed apt and it was the best space to utilize. If it's a larger piece tho, I'll just use the floor.
Where would you love to have your art featured?
That's not really something I ever think about and I have no real opinion on. It's always nice to be asked to exhibit and I’m always open to do so but it’s not a goal. I recently had my first exhibition in the Dunamaise Gallery in Portlaoise, a refurbished building that was once the home of my father’s family when my grandfather was the caretaker of the court house, so that was a special place to do an exhibition. Also, I was invited to the Guildhall in Derry for the Comic City Creative Arts Festival. I unfortunately had to turn down the offer due to prior engagements, but I would most certainly have loved to display my work in such a beautiful venue as the Guildhall - a neo-Gothic architectural masterpiece itself.
Do you prefer Oreos or Fudgee-O cookies?
Oreos with a cup of tea… love em.