Student Conversation - Fergal Styles

"When I was in fourth year in school, there was nothing I wanted to do more than go to Art College."

On process

I like a sense of immediacy from my work. I discovered a way of working at the end of first year that I really liked. In second year I sort of strayed away from it, but built on it in other ways. I learn techniques that work and then I don’t have to think too much about them when applying them. I guess, there’s an element of me being instinctive. At the beginning I can be really free, I don’t have to think about it until maybe different contrasts start building up in the painting. I know it is nearing completion when I start to get precious with certain areas of it. When I start saying - this area is working - I can work off that area until other areas of the painting start working as well.

On exhibiting

When I display my paintings, I like to work off the space I am displaying them in. I see the space as another stage of the painting.


When I was in fourth year in school, there was nothing I wanted to do more than go to Art College. Originally I was thinking maybe Graphic Design but when I came to the NCAD Open Day I decided I definitely want to go to this place and I definitely want to do painting. I think in a way painting is something that I need to do.

On his influences

I’m interested in how other artists approach or make their work. I like painters such as Chris Martin and Antóni Tapies, I guess there are lots, but I try not to think about them too much in relation to my own work. I always have a little tiny pocket notebook with me. You want your life and your practice to go perfectly together hand in hand.

On approach

I have just finished a book on David Hockney. He needs to paint, his whole life is art. He was saying how he was really influenced by the way Picasso painted, in that he would just keep switching styles and yet retained a consistency of approach. It doesn’t matter what style you choose to paint in, as long as you maintain that same approach. Your approach will always shine through.