Julian Meagher talks about giving up a career in medicine to pursue art, his involvement in the Canon G-Case Project, and the Greek translation of the word ‘orchid’.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an artist ever since I was a kid, I seemed to spend most of my childhood in studios and at art school in my spare time. I knew how hard it was to make a career out of it however, and basically didn’t have the balls to pursue it when I was 18.
You left medicine to pursue art full time – what do you miss (or not miss!) about being a doctor?
It was actually a really easy decision for me. The older I got the more I realised how much art meant to me and how many regrets I would have if I didn’t make it my life. There are times I miss working as a doctor, it was a great job and very rewarding at times. You get to work with some incredibly talented people. It is a good thing for the ego to know you are the dumbest person in the room sometimes. I miss the feeling of working a full week in the hospital and knowing a pay cheque is on its way, working in the studio is a bit like going to the casino in that respect, which is why I never gamble on anything else other than art materials!
What is inspiring your ‘creative genius’ at the moment?
I have reached a new stage of applying oils as if they were watercolours, in very thin washes and very delicately. I am getting a real rush out of the subtle results.
What was the last song you listened to? Does music help you paint?
I cannot paint without music, silence is too noisy and distracting. I have these great wireless Senheiser headphones that help as I work in a communal studio and sometimes want to plug out with a particular genre, although everyone here is into Rihanna right now. The last songs I listed to were ‘1979’ by Smashing Pumpkins and ‘This Must be the Place’ by Talking Heads, some things are timeless. I have also really been enjoying some of Nicolas Jaar’s stuff.
A lot of your work features tattooed male subjects. Do you have any tattoos yourself?
I have one small one of a rooster. It doesn’t really mean anything, I just like how annoying roosters are. My friend did it for me one night when we were drinking. I haven’t painted tattoos for a while, my latest series is kind of ‘male still life’, lots of beer bottles and orchids casting pink shadows. I use a lot of pink and blue, playing with its gender associations, and a lot of orchids, partly because they mean testicle in Greek.
What did you get up to on the G-Case project with Canon?
The Canon G-Case Project was great to be involved with. I got to meet some really good artists who had made artworks out of the cases, and for participating in the project we received a new Canon Powershot G1X. It has been awesome for shooting my work, for reference shots and taking out to art fairs. I’ve been using the video on it quite a bit.
If you could have anyone sit for a portrait, who would it be?