The Monthly interviews local artist, Friz – Part 1

What are your earliest memories regarding art?

I grew up in a nurturing, creative household. There was always creative materials available; paint, paper, pens, instruments, anything that we wanted was available to us, so I have always drawn as long as I can remember. It was just a normal part of our life.

Did this continue through school?

My Mum used to take me to art classes on a Saturday morning at our local school when I was in primary education, these were conducted by a private teacher, and I had my first introduction to learning to draw properly.

I did have an aptitude for drawing. I remember being interested in shading, in watercolours, in mixing colours and asking teachers how you go about using paints to do these things.

When I was in secondary school I did hang around with an arty crowd and I certainly always developed in that direction. My teacher at school did encourage me so I was lucky that way.

You went on to college?

I did an Art and Design foundation course in Sligo and then I headed to Ballyfermot college in Dublin.

The Sligo course allowed you to experiment with all sorts of artistic mediums, that gave you a chance to try a bit of everything and then that helped you decide what it was that you liked and wanted pursue.

Ballyfermot came about because my Mum saw a segment on a show on RTE about the animation course and she told me about it, and after my initial surprise that she would allow me to do it, she agreed to take me down to the induction.

She was always very supportive.

Image copyright Cian Ginty –

You do have an element of striking women in your art?

Yes. I am not trying necessarily to do this and it isn’t the purpose of my work but I would like to think that my street art, particularly my depictions of women, are of powerful characters.

I would like to think that when people see these art works they would see empowered characters, people who are in control.

Perhaps you would see a sexually empowered person rather than an objectified person.

I have developed as I have grown older and I do often think about how images are perceived and I am always interested in discussing my work and what the representations offer those who are viewing them.

Do you get much feedback on your work?

When you are working on your art in a public space you can listen to people who are walking past, or watching what you do, and hear people interpret your work.  Often people come up with the most incredible explanations which that is great. I like to think that my work can be interpreted in a number of ways.

People critique your work while you are doing it?

It is one of the great things about street art that sometimes you can hear people offering a criticism or they are trying to make sense of what you are doing, and they can be doing this while you are in the middle of the painting. Sometimes it happens with hindsight, when you complete the work people tell you they walked by earlier and thought it looked a mess and couldn’t tell what I was doing but are delighted with the end product.

I have heard people talk about why I would use a certain animal in my work. I do use tigers and magpies quite a bit and I have reasons for that.

Often in my work there are subtleties which underpin the work and that allows people to speculate about the meanings in the work.

Most of what I do is not done to influence the world, so to speak, but that can be a by-product of the work I produce.

Would you consider yourself a street artist?

No, not really. I work in a number of mediums and I paint on canvas, I do a bit of graphic design, I facilitate workshops, digital illustration, I do a bit of everything.

I didn’t have the patience for animation or for comic book art. I really like the process of street art, the speed of it, how you go about making the piece of art,work. I like that the style, an animation or comic book style which I naturally gravitate towards, seems to work well for street art.

You would be one of the few women who work in this area?

Yes, I guess, there aren’t many but I see that changing.

I don’t know what the barrier is. I can say that I was helped by guys when I first started and I was shown the ropes by other street artists so I never felt that I was unique, if that makes sense.

I never felt excluded in any way and so I would hope that other women would find their way to this kind of work.

Part two of this interview is here

Friz’ work can be found at the following links: | |

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.