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Interview with Pearse O’Halloran Graphic Designer by Gill Thompson (artist/printmaker) June 2019

I was asked to interview Pearse O’Halloran and it was a pleasure to find out more about this soft spoken, Irish designer.

Pearse works from his ‘lofty’ studio in Bayble, a bijoux workspace with a fabulous view. His newly branded Design Company ‘LOOM’ sees him as a modern day ‘digital weaver’, crafting every bit of a design project with a holistic, creative and very personal approach.

Pearse grew up in Youghal, County Cork – a harbour town similar in size to Stornoway.

Having started his working life in a pottery factory, he then secured an apprenticeship with a printing company which taught him the basic skills and left him hungry for more challenging projects.

He went on to study at the College of Building and Printing in Glasgow, completing an NC in Art and Design and HND in Graphic Design. This led to a brief job in the Photographic Library and a chance introduction to a graphic designer who was looking to take on an employee. It is all about being in the right place at the right time!

Pearse went on to do freelance design work, running his own design agency. He then worked as Graphic Designer for the Glasgow Science Centre for 2 ½ years which was a great experience with lots of design opportunities to get his teeth into. He says that he was recently pleasantly surprised to see a Science Centre van at his daughter’s school, bearing his original logo design, which shows how his work stands the test of time.

Pearse and his wife had spent many holidays in the Highlands and Islands and, when a post came up at the hospital in Stornoway for Laura, they made the decision to move to the Isle of Lewis. Their eldest daughter was due to start school and so the timing was good. There were a few uncertainties re. the business landscape on the island but, with internet, it didn’t really matter where he was based so he could continue working with existing clients. The benefits to himself and family of living in such a beautiful place and the opportunity to work with some great island businesses have made it a very positive move. Pearse also welcomes the pleasures of stopping for lunch and taking in the sea views and being able to take off on his bike and seek out some photo opportunities.

He reckons that 50% of his work is with companies on the island but he still has clients on the mainland and beyond. Most of his work is brief based, working with clients and getting to know how they view their own businesses and how they are looking to use visual impact to promote themselves. He does not see himself as an ‘artist’, although he brings a unique creativity to the images and logos he creates. He is experimenting with some self-initiated designs based on letters of the alphabet which look fascinating and very innovative and has dabbled in relief printmaking which he enjoys and finds very relaxing to do.

In his thirties, Pearse entered the world of stand-up comedy. He says that he had a good go at this, travelling to remote parts of Scotland to do gigs. He even got offered work in London following a competition but, after careful consideration, he turned it down. This stand-up experience resulted in connections to some well-known comedians and Pearse continues to do graphic design work for them, bringing his personal experience of the business to the artwork.

Recent work includes a refresh of the An lanntair brand with a new version of the logo which can be seen on the front of the building, a beautiful new booklet design for Harris Tweed Hebrides with a tactile cover, Album artwork for Peat and Diesel and promotional designs for the Fans Youth Film Festival.

Pearse’s projects include logo design, branding, packaging and he sees the future as possibly working with other island-based creatives, incorporating their work into the design process.

He is closely involved with his wife’s new business ‘Waxx Wraps’ which is proving very popular both on and off the island. Spare time is spent as a family man, enjoying island life with his two young daughters. Look out for new ‘LOOM’ designs, Pearse is most definitely putting his stamp on the island.

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