This week, we’ve chosen artist, musician and small business owner Keenan McAteer as our latest #CreatorOfTheWeek.
An artist mainly known for his portraiture, 24-year-old Keenan who is based in Egremont, has seen his work purchased across the globe with his paintings sent to the likes of America and Australia.
In particular, Keenan loves creating art that resonates with his other passions. He sells his work on Etsy and also accepts commissions.
Keenan additionally plays bass and during the lockdown, he found a home in photography.
He currently creates oil paintings, drawings and digital paintings.
We caught up with this creative powerhouse to find out how he got started with art, what inspires him and more...
When did you begin creating art and how did you get started?
Well everyone says the same thing, you do art in school and stuff like that, that's where I started. Basically carried on from there, did art in 6th form and started architecture at uni. Jacked that in because it wasn't up my street really, it was a bit of a snobby course.
I like drawing and stuff but it was all different people's interpretations of things and snobby lecturers. So I was like, I don't fancy that. Got back from Uni and did commissions for people drawing pets, dogs and people. Then I started an Instagram page that's where it's all spiralled from.
Why did you get into portraiture?
I think because I was doing architecture, you don't really draw people; it's all squares and triangles and circles. I think I fancied something a bit different and I really enjoyed it. I did a few portraits in school as well, I enjoyed them.
It's always quite rewarding doing a portrait because for about 80% of the portrait while drawing it or painting it, it looks absolutely terrible, it looks crap! Then it comes together at the end and that's the rewarding bit where it starts to look like the person you're drawing.
Did you start with portraiture or was it something you picked up?
In school they try to get you to do a bit of everything, still life, landscapes, random objects but they don't really push you to their faces, at least not all the time. You’ve got to do what you enjoy and that's what I enjoy doing. I have tried to do landscape but I'm just awful at it, it's a completely different skill.
I notice some cameras behind you, are you into photography as well?
Yeah, I do like it! Just some old film cameras. Obviously, you're in lockdown there's nowt to do! What do you do? Go on a walk and take photos. I'd like to do that a bit more, photography portraits and stuff like that.
What projects have been your favourite so far?
The best ones are always when it's commissioned but it's something you want to do anyway so you're basically getting paid to paint what you want.
I did one for Christmas, you know in Jaws where they're all under the boat, I did that. Then one before that was a guy called Scott Hutchinson from a band called Frightened Rabbit a portrait, that was a fun one to do cause that's one of my favourites.
Are you into your music as well then?
Yeah, I have played in bands for a lot of years now.
What do you play?
I play bass, very badly. I love it, still trying to get out gigging and stuff.
Who inspires your art?
There are a few artists that I quite like, there's one called, I dunno if I'm pronouncing this right, it's Alfe Pete. I have a few of his prints on the wall. His stuff is quite vibrant and quite expressive. I take a lot of inspiration from him but I find it hard to loosen up as much as he does.
Then there's also a guy called Andrew Tischler, who does massive landscapes and stuff and I know I don't really paint landscapes but his oil paintings are absolutely class so I love those! He does portraits as well and pencil sketches.
There's a guy called James Gurney, he did the Dinotopia books. I used to love them, loads of dinosaurs painted as if they're in real life, really realistically.
He's got a YouTube channel and he goes out and paints random places he goes to. It's exactly like photographs but painting it instead and I really like the little paintings that he does.
There's a lot of older artists that I like as well, there's a guy called John Singer Sargent but that's kinda who these three guys take inspiration from so it comes full circle.
So do you paint as well then?
Yeah! I do oil paintings, digital paintings sometimes, and drawings. Those are the main three really. I dabbled with watercolour a while ago but wasn't very good at it. It's quite hard as well!
That's the thing, I always get bored of things and go to the next and the next, a constant cycle, I get bored of things pretty easily.
Like one week I'll do paintings, then move on to the next thing, then I'll get bored of that and move on to the next thing again.
I'd like to have a little summer house to put my own gallery in, where people can come and look at stuff and buy things and get photos taken for commissions. I think that would be cool.
Are you inspired by video game art as well?
Yeah definitely, well you see it on my wall, The Mandalorian and The Witcher. I drew the main character from Horizon Zero Dawn. I've got a lot of art books, I've got one of the art of Metal Gear Solid V.
That's another inspiration as well, he's called Yoji Shinkawa. He's the artist that does all the Metal Gear, his stuff is amazing and all the designs he comes up with. The gaming stuff is big.
What would you say your top 3 games are?
I'd say number 3 is probably Witcher 3, number 2 Red Dead Redemption the original one. Then, probably like Pokémon Fire and Red, I've put so many hours into that game.
Where would you like to be in 10 years' time with your art?
I'd like to have a little summer house to put my own gallery in. Have my own little gallery where people can come and look at stuff and buy things and get photos taken for commissions. I think that would be cool.
I'd like my own little studio thing and then to begin art-wise, there's not really that much going on art-wise in Cumbria.
Do you think Cumbria as a county can facilitate your growth as an artist?
Yes and no. I think there's a bit of a niche community for art work in Cumbria. You get a lot of tourists going to Keswick or Windermere and they're all into fells, climbing up and walking around and because of that they're all into landscape paintings of Bassenthwaite and I'm not very good at landscapes.
I think cities are where it's at.
That's the beauty of social media, people message you from all around. I've sent paintings away to America and all over the world. Prints as well because I sell prints and they go all over.
I guess it proves that you don't need to be in a built-up metropolitan area to sell your artwork, you can just do it all over the internet which is good for me because there's not a lot going on art-wise in Cumbria, at least not for what I like anyway.
A big thank you to Keenan for coming to speak with us.
Here at Hollr, we want to support young creative Cumbrians and create a space where we can celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of the young people making waves in our county. If you know a young creator who you think we should feature as our next Creator of the Week, drop us a DM to nominate them.
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