Studio Series: Joe McNulty

This week we visit the workspace of musician, artist and illustrator Joe McNulty at Wolstenholme Studios…

Please describe your space. It’s just a place where you can do anything; you can make noise; you’ve got the space to make a proper mess. The seagulls (pattering across the roof as we speak) encourage you to make art. It’s really bright because it’s right at the top of Wolstenholme. The slanted ceiling makes it feel very 60s New York . It’s heavily personalized with all the gubbins. As I share it with Michael Aitkin, it’s just like a boys paradise … you can just pick up a bass, or bash on the drums and vent out some horrific angst. We’ve set it up so when we start doing a chat show (with the Wondering Eye project), the stage can have a band on, the sofa can be for the guests and I’ve got a desk here that I can interview people from behind.

What work do you do here? A lot of band stuff – I practice here weekly – and any musical projects. I do a lot of illustration, a lot of organizing, sitting and chatting with Mike about big ideas, grandiose things. I’ve done some installations in the past, but they’ve been a bit unwieldy really, they get really messy. I’ve always had a passion for doing illustration and comics. I’m working on two zines; one that’ll be ready for Record Store Day (21st April) called Tome, that’s a collection of poems that I wrote when I was between 15 and 25 that are absolutely horrible and cringe-worthy. I’m an obsessive hoarder of pieces of paper with my work on; I’ve driven myself mad by filling up my bedroom with post-it notes. I just need to get it all used, so that once I’ve put it into a zine, then I can destroy it all and it never needs to block up my chi ever again. The second zine, the Wondering Eye, is more about what I’ve seen or what people I know have seen in encountering new experiences.

How many hours a week do you spend here? About 10 hours, but I’m trying to make it more. I’ll come in the nighttime to have practice, but I’ve changed my rota at work so I can come in for one full day, fresh-faced, to bash away at something before before everyone else starts banging around. I’m committing myself to doing this Wondering Eye zine, gigs and the chatshow for a period of at least six months. I’m trying to make my life a bit more stable by coming in regularly and being a bit more professional. The rates at WCS are really good, so I don’t feel any pressure to come in all the time and use my money’s worth. But I always feel like I’ve got to do something; like I’m always doing work on post-it notes and stuff. You should see my collection, I have boxes and boxes, all stored up from when I was like 15. It’s a physical presence as well as a mental torment.

What helps you work? Music, and deadlines. I tend to listen to 90s alt rock, heavy metal and country music. Basically anything that has a bit of soul to it, something that moves me, something loud. Loud is good so I can switch off and do work. Boredom. I think people these days don’t let themselves get bored enough; kids just aren’t allowed to be bored, they’ve got to have sweets or Modern Warfare 3, from when they get in from school til late at night. I think that boredom is a great motivator and an equalizer. The Wondering Eye is about filling the gap of space and time with something: “When the tablet has been made blank, the artist will fill in the lineaments of the ideal state. Is this a pattern laid up in heaven, or mere vacancy on which he is supposed to gaze with wondering eye?” [wow, our first Plato quote - Ed]

Describe your 3 favourite possessions in the studio. Drums – because its just so awesome to hit drums. Honestly, I love music and playing guitar, but there’s just something about having a space where you can just hit drums that is dead good. In terms of stuff that’s always here, the sofa – it was a hassle getting it up all the stairs. I’ve got my cupboard, having somewhere to put your stuff is good. Or the fairy lights – one time we had them covering the entire ceiling at a gig and it was amazing, and we will do that again.

If your studio could speak, what would it say? I think it would say come down to Mello Mello on 23rd April to see Mr. Ted, Spirit Animals and Go Tell the Women for the Wondering Eye launch night. Or it would say don’t sit on the sofa.

If there was one important piece of advice you could share with other artists, what would that be? I’d hate to say that my advice was worth much, but: Don’t listen to anyone. Don’t listen to advice. Just do what you’re doing, but do it better, and for a longer amount of time, and don’t filter it at all. More is more, sort of thing. Just continue, just keep on doing stuff. Coz you’re doing alright, you’re doing ok. You just need to lose a bit of weight.

Wondering Eye Project

Posted on 13/04/2012 by thedoublenegative