In Conversation with Neil Keating

Tell us about what you do?

I’m a Graphic Artist based out of Liverpool, my work largely consists of illustration-based branding collaborations with either large companies or local independent businesses. Projects can vary from large-scale mural campaigns, screen-printed posters, and skate decks. To merch & clothing designs, maps & animated gifs.

How did you end up doing that?

I started out freelancing 2008 with the desire to do all the things I do now really but, my confidence in my work wasn’t what it is now. I had limited practical and technical experience so it was frustrating to begin with. Work was too sporadic and after a few years, I decided to quit freelancing to work for an animation studio as a character designer and storyboard artist. It was a great experience working in a very creative and fast-paced environment. I got to design characters every day and learned how to animate.

I moved back to Liverpool in 2016 and got a job at a print studio in exchange for a lot of art equipment I had sitting around. I had designs ready so I got to work & started screen printing every day for a month. I picked it up pretty quickly and by the end of it, I had a whole new body of work to start selling online and at print fairs.

The independent boom in Liverpool was in full swing at this stage, I knew a few people who were opening bars & restaurants, so I contacted them to design murals for their outdoor space – they were really keen on the idea. So, I designed seven murals for them – inside & outside – and got really lucky, as they became really popular on social media.

Has the current situation had an effect on your creativity?

Personally its not had too much of a negative impact on my creativity, I was lucky enough to work continuously throughout 2020. Although I do miss the buzz of working face to face with other creatives, the energy from that environment is pretty hard to replicate.

What’s inspired you whilst isolating?

I spent a lot of time in nature, more than I ever to be honest. Drawing, running & meditation was pretty key too. But most of all, getting to spend quality time with my son & girlfriend. They both made sure lockdown banter was great fun.

What are you working on currently?

Something pretty interesting actually. I’ve just been commissioned by a group at Manchester University to work on illustrations depicting their research into the psychological effects on astronauts travelling to Mars & how human interaction with robots can help them cope on their journey.

I’m also working on some new merch, hopefully, ready to launch at my next exhibition I have planned for the summer.

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve worked on? Why is it your favourite?

I loved working with the guys at Melodic Distraction, they’re an indie radio station in Liverpool. They do a great deal to help support the local music scene and recently their existence was put under threat due to the redevelopment of their premises. I had the pleasure of working with them on their successful kickstarter campaign to be relocated at their brand new home and help establish a new creative quarter in the disused fabric district of Liverpool.

It felt really empowering to a part of this project, I really enjoy it when my work is being utilised to make a difference in the community.

What’s something you’re really into right now?

I’ve just finished a huge Lego Bat Mobile I got for my son for his birthday, that’s kept me busy for the last couple of weeks. I also like watching Portrait Artist of the year & the Great Pottery Throw-down, anything creative I’m pretty much into.

Who would you most like to share a meal with?

I should say somebody really famous & interesting here but at present, I’d love to share a meal with my old friends, I really missed them these past twelve months.

What’s your favorite colour?

I have a confession, Im actually red-green colour blind, Maybe this is why I’m drawn to really vibrant colours. I work mainly in black and white but I like to use accent colours like bright pinks and bold yellows. Saying that my favourite colour has to be blue.

What’s the last picture you took on your phone?

The last picture on my phone is of my Dog Lizzy. She’s a Romanian rescue dog I adopted last summer. Actually as sad as it sounds, most of my recent photos in my album consist of pictures of dog.