Design District is just about ready to open its doors to the public, however two buildings on the southern edge of the neighbourhood remain incomplete. Keeping the site safe means putting up hoardings, but when artist Lois O’Hara is on hand to transform them into a cascade of colour, this is no bad thing.
Still in her twenties, Lois has already applied her unique vision to a wide range of large-scale private, commercial and public art projects. Now she’s set to create a splash with her contribution to Design District Creates, a month-long event programme celebrating our launch.
Design District: Hello Lois, it’s great to have you at Design District. Please could you tell us a bit about how you established yourself as an artist and how you developed your trademark style?
Lois O’Hara: I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and very creative as this is how I feel confident in expressing my emotions and beliefs. It really started to kick off when I realised I had such a huge passion for bringing colour to public spaces. Why are public spaces so grey and why are buildings so straight?!
DD: You are prolific! How do you keep coming up with new ideas? Where do you find inspiration?
LOH: Everything I create comes from my own personal experiences so a lot of thought goes into each design. I listen to music while designing — in particular, artists like Drake who rap about their success and motivation. It’s also important for me to travel and connect with nature. I’m very much a sunset chaser and have no shame!
DD: Tell us about your creative process.
LOH: A lot of the colours I use get chosen from my own photographs. I colour-pick certain ones from different trips away and then build the palette before anything else. As for the process, I work very organically and literally start by drawing basic, fluid lines. Slowly, some sort of composition comes together but then it takes me a while to get it right. I’m very particular. When I work on large-scale stuff, I have to make sure the proportions are all correct.
DD: You’re offering two mentorships to winners entering our Instagram competition. What’s your best piece of advice for other young people starting out in the creative industries? Is there something you would have done differently?
LOH: I wouldn’t have gone to university as I felt it was too rigid for a creative person to follow such strict and old fashioned systems. However, it did make me more determined to succeed, so it’s not all bad!
DD: What were your initial thoughts when you first found out about a new London neighbourhood providing permanent, affordable workspace for creatives?
LOH: I thought it was unique that it was for creatives in particular. It’s very powerful and necessary. Creatives are often undermined.
DD: Why is Design District a good platform for your work?
LOH: It’s an unbelievable platform for my work as Design District supports all forms of creativity. Hopefully lots of people, including other creatives, will see the public artwork as it could give them some new inspiration for their own work. It could even open new doors to potential collaborations.
DD: Your work explores how colour and movement can have a positive impact on people and places. How will this be reflected in your Design District commission?
LOH: I went on a site visit before I got to work on the project. I made sure to capture lots of photographs of passers by and the surrounding area. I’ve experimented with new textures in this piece, which hopefully reflect the uniqueness of DD. I really hope the hoarding stops people in their tracks.
DD: What’s next?
LOH: Lots of things! Including the launch of some new art-sports courts in Bradford, some new creative projects with Estrella Damm and a mural for The Other Art Fair x El Rayo!