Artist Spotlight: Rahalie McGuirk

– by Matt Vassiliou

Rahalie McGuirk is a Perth-based painter and animal lover who dabbles in illustration, bookmaking, murals, and tattoo designs. I recently sat down with McGuirk to have a chat about her, and her work.

What was it that made you start being an artist?

I’ve always been artistically inclined. As a small child I always had pencils and pens in my house; through school art was my favourite subject; and then I studied Fine Arts at Curtin University. I did a diploma of education on top of that, so I’m a qualified art teacher, but right now I’m just slowly trying to build a bit of a name for myself.

Do you do much teaching?

I will be doing some workshops at Karen Frankel Art Studio in April. I’ve done some art tutoring, and hopefully in the coming years I’ll have my own studio and run some workshops there. I’m also a child carer and I do a bit of art with kids. I’m not sure if teaching in the school environment is for me; I find it restrictive and I like a bit more creative expression.

What’s your focus for the future?

I’ve done a few tattoo commissions, and I consider myself to be a sort of all-rounder, but right now I’m trying to push the painting side of things. I’m getting into a bit of mural work, and hopefully some street art. It’s quite satisfying to see your work in a public space, like on a large wall or something.
I am a bit of an all-rounder and I like dabbling in all art forms, but I felt I needed to pick a style or a niche to focus on and build a bit of a name around, and that’s what I’ve started to do this past year with the minimalistic, simplistic, linear, and bold colour stuff.

Who is inspires you?

At the moment I really like Amok Island. He’s a mural artist, and you can find quite a bit of his stuff around Perth. I also quite like Anya Brock’s work. I like the bright colours, the bold lines, and the simplistic designs; all the things I use in my own work. Other art that I do is inspired by Patricia Piccinini and Julia Deville.

What’s your creative process like?

Like, if I’m painting an animal, I always do a bit of research using books or the internet. I try to take photos where I can of the environment and animals, and imagination comes into play as well. I’m not particularly methodical; I’m more or less a spur of the moment creator. I guess as I’ve always been good at art, it’s very intrinsic, and I can just sort of sit down and create without having to think about it too much.

Animals are a recurring theme in your work. What is about animals that inspire you?

I’m basically just an animal nerd. I wanted to be a vet when I was younger, and I grew up down south so I’ve always had animals and been into bugs and horse-riding and that kind of stuff. I’ve never been a portrait painter, and animals are such a strong love of mine, so that’s why it’s a re-occurring thing. Also, there are so many fun colours in nature that are fun to paint.

How do you promote yourself?

At the moment it’s pretty much just Instagram and Facebook, and I’m trying to do a bit of networking. Hopefully I’m going to get a website in the next year, but it’s a work in progress. I do some commissions from Instagram and some word of mouth stuff too. Right now I’m just trying to get my name out there.

Tell me about Photo Bomb.

So, what happens is that a photographer [Rachel Clare] gets some of their images put on a large canvas, and then myself and four other artists have two hours to incorporate our own artwork into the photograph. We’re painting live, and we get to see the image we’ll be painting on one week prior to the event so we’ve got a little bit of time to try and plan out something. Each artist will get a different image [by the same photographer]. It’s quite nerve-wracking. I don’t really like painting with lots of people around, so it’ll be interesting. It’ll be good to put my out of my comfort zone and it should be fun.

If you want to see more of Rahalie, check out her Facebook page The Velveteen Rabbit Art, find her on Instagram at @thevelveteenrabbit__art, or come down the Colosoul Basement Gallery and take a look at her work.

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