Artist Profile: Louis Nelson

‘Dreamers’ home made lino print created by stomping on thick books.

Louis Nelson is a freelance illustrator, as well as a band member of both Gnarkats and Peace Evan. Louis is also hoping to take his artistic abilities further by studying Graphic Design and Illustration next year at the Ulster University. Louis spoke to The Jumble about his inspirations, the lock down, making lino prints without the typical equipment, and the local arts scene. 

I find it hard to describe my art succinctly because I work in a few different styles and mediums, but I always have liked adding an element of surrealism to my art by using powerful contrasting colours. 

I’m lucky with the friends  I’ve met over the years. They introduced me to art movements and  museums I otherwise would never have known about.  Social media has also introduced lots of local artists to me, realising how many amazing artists there are in Northern Ireland/ Ireland really drives me to be productive.

I’ve recently become absolutely obsessed with Stanley Donwood, the artist for Radiohead. I bought his book ‘There Will Be No Quiet’ about 8 months ago, and I find myself going back to re-read passages and look at the art he’s created.

A lot of my art is commissioned for local musicians, and my own music. I design logos, cover art, and gig posters. I treat those pieces like a representation of the particular musician, which reflects my own visual response to what I hear. It’s really cool to see  a poster I’ve designed being shared on social media, because it’s actually being ‘used’,  people recognise the art as part of an event, making it that little bit more personal. 

In the early stages of lock down I was fuming. I was doing an Art & Design course and I was hoping to create my final piece using the screen printing technique, which really can only be done at the college. Then all of a sudden I had to change plans entirely because I couldn’t use the college’s facilities anymore. Luckily, I had a few pieces of lino that hadn’t been touched, so I opted to create the final piece in lino. I didn’t have an actual printing press, so I had to stand on a load of thick books to print the lino onto the paper, it’s kind of hilarious looking back at how I did it, it was exhausting and not professional whatsoever. There was a lot of messing up, but I got there, and I was proud of the pieces I created. I’m really happy now, knowing I can create some okay-looking lino pieces at home, by myself, but I am looking forward to getting into an actual studio and using a printing press, instead of stomping on books.

Lately, I haven’t been making as much art as I’d like, but I think it’s important for creatives to realise that just because you have all this ‘free time’ you shouldn’t feel pressured into creating every day. That mindset can damage a person’s rate of productivity, it’s okay to binge watch a few things right now and chill out. 

‘A Night at The Empire’ Lino Print

The local scene is  one of my main sources of inspiration. It’s class to see local artists putting on their own exhibitions and even painting murals in bars, which creates a really cool atmosphere rather than just a boring wall. In Belfast there’s been more attention paid to local artists, they all seem to work with one another, which creates this cool artistic community. Once lock down is lifted and things start to go back to normal I’m going to  go to as many local artist exhibitions and events as possible and not take it for granted.

You can find more of Louis’s work on Instagram .


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