We had the good fortune of connecting with Lucy Cullen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lucy, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
It didn’t really occur to me that it might actually be possible to be a full-time artist until I was in my late 20’s. I had always said I would love to be an artist but in a kind of throw-away wistful sense. However when I wanted to escape from the stresses of my day job I always turned to art. When I slipped into my flow state I felt like a more authentic version of myself. I loved that I could show up as myself in a world in which there was so much opportunity. As a creative person you can work independently, you can collaborate and you can rewrite the rules if you dare. I quite my day job without much of a plan to be honest, all I knew was I needed to break the spell and throw myself in the deep end. It still took me some time to call myself an artist instead of hiding behind my managerial role but now it feels great. I can’t imagine ever getting bored in this career!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My business is Idir Na Línte (between the lines in Irish) and I do minimalist line art that allows for the viewers interpretation and personal sentiment. My work focuses primarily on the human form as a universal language that makes it accessible to all. The minimalist human form simultaneously captures external beauty and the internal struggles we all face. The simplicity and negative space elicits personal reflection and provokes relatable experiences without judgement. When I began experimenting with my minimalist style it came at a time when I felt like I couldn’t express how I felt or say exactly what I wanted to say so I left parts out and this meant I had space for movement, it was forever unfinished and others could finish it as they pleased. On a personal level this was huge to me, the concept of creating space for myself in art. I felt like the space “between the lines” was my way of giving myself permission to be incomplete and it was ok to not know the exact words to say. I remember it began to feel like a freeing experience to draw figures that looked so open and accepting of whomever wanted to finish their stories. The phrase ‘mind over matter’ was also important but perhaps not as it is popularly known. It wasn’t about changing anything but tapping into what was already there in the mind. I wanted to create art that encourages interpretation and asks the mind to discover more than what can be physically seen When reflecting on my style and process I discovered I wasn’t just creating space for myself, I was creating space in which others could tell their story too. Each individuals experience of my art is unique to them. The incomplete figures invite viewers to inhabit them with their own stories and relate to them in whatever way they need whether evoking memories of love stories, personal struggles, lifelong friendships or perhaps faraway feelings from long ago. I would have to say that I am most proud of my exploration of my expression as an artist. I remember wondering how does one have a style?? At the time it felt like reinventing the wheel, surely every style had been discovered? I also didn’t want to force it as that would feel contrived. Then I realised one day that I had arrived at a place where I could confidently say I know my style and I got a real kick out of looking at the development of that style in my previous works. I didn’t think there was any particular path I was walking but looking back there are clear threads of development and discovery. It has not been an easy path but it certainly got easier once I knew where to go for help and support. Artists can be guilty of loving solitude and independence, I certainly love my alone time! But my experience, confidence and opportunities have all grown the more I surrounded myself with creatives from all disciplines. Ironically considering the complications that 2020 has brought with it, I have connected with so many people this year online…perhaps more than I would have if we hadn’t been in and out of lockdowns. We have a few slogans from our postgrad this year that have been little nuggets of wisdom that I will take with me always. First is the quote – “Fail early, fail often but always fail forward.” – I often remind myself that you cant avoid failure so you might as well learn from it! Next is quite simply “PIVOT” as creatives we tend to be slightly more attached to our ideas so when something isn’t working it’s hard to let go. If something isn’t working – pivot. Lastly feel the fear and do it anyway! Some things in life are scary and that’s what makes them worthwhile and often with the greatest rewards.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh tough question! (Assuming this is pre or post-covid!) I’m more of an outdoorsy person and I live between Wicklow and Dublin on the east coast of Ireland so I would: Take them for a sea swim followed by a pint of Guinness and a bowl of chowder. Bring them for a hike in Glendalough, (Wicklow) and probably pack a picnic for along the way. Bring them for a feast in Cornucopia in Dublin – so delicious, massive portions and all vegetarian. My boyfriend was suspicious when I first brought him there but he loves it now too. Bring them for a drink in the Harbour Bar in Bray – might even get some fish and chips and a stroll on the seafront first! Take them to a gig in town. The great thing about Ireland is you can drive anywhere in a day so you could go on a week long whirlwind tour of all of Ireland!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I could name hundreds! I have so many friends and family who insisted I was brave when I thought I was stupid, who believed in me when I barely did, who insisted on paying me for my art when I didn’t feel like an artist. I have made sure these people shared in my successes along the way, they have applauded every win from the smallest to the biggest. My local career mentor Miriam Kane at Bray Area Partnership who really listened to what I wanted to pursue as a career. I was expecting to be told to go back into childcare(my previous role) because there were lots of jobs available but instead she listened and recommended me for online courses and my postgrad in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Trinity College Dublin. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am without her guidance. In my postgrad at Trinity I was surrounded by so many wonderful creative people and learned so much in such a short time! The support from our tutors and each other went beyond the academic. We all found ourselves in need of help at one stage or another and to know that you have other creatives cheering you on really makes the tough times bearable. We had a great time laughing together as we “failed forward” and continue to do so. I also joined a business group specifically for creatives called The Biscuit Factory which is ran by the creative entrepreneur Tara Prendergast. Tara has a magical way of connecting with creatives and has built a wonderful community of creative entrepreneurs who all want to see each other succeed. This group kept me going when I needed it most.