Nick Harrigan – The Man Behind The Faces

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Nick Harrigan is a young talented Scottish artist, whose incredible skills for portraits have attracted many followers in recent months. I caught up with Nick at Edinburgh Comic Con 2016.

FB: How did your journey into art start?

NH: I’ve always drawn, even at a very young age, I pretty much picked up a pencil and haven’t put it down since. I used to love drawing from my imagination, making up characters or creatures. As I got older and progressed through my high school years, my technique progressed, but I felt like I lost a lot of the imagination surrounding my work. Everything was to be drawn from reference, or from a brief. I think this stifled my creativity, and I fell a little out of love for art. After school though, I focussed on drawing what I wanted and since I didn’t go to university, I did my own thing in my own way.
I drew for my friends and family, but never asked for payment. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, when they really started getting behind me and told me I should be making a go of selling my work, that I really tried. Which really kind of brings me to where I am now! I’d love to do this full-time, it’s been my dream for a long time, but at the moment I still really see it as a hobby, something I do when I’m not working. Hopefully I will continue to progress and you never know, one day I might be able to call my art, my career.

FB: You obviously have a natural talent for portraits. Tell us about the face that first caught your imagination.
NH: It’s funny, but I never actually used to draw portraits. I had a mental block around drawing a face and so would just point blank refuse to draw them when asked. I always prided myself on my ability to draw what I saw, so I could make a cat look like a cat, a bowl of fruit look like a bowl of fruit, but when it came to drawing a person, I seemed to have a real issue putting what I saw to paper. I played around for awhile with portraits of celebrities, each time progressing, but it wasn’t until one face that it really changed and I felt I cracked it. Instead of looking at the piece as a person’s face, I tried to instead treat it like it was any other object. Because at the end of the day, it is just like any other object. This portrait was of Hugh Laurie  in his role as House. I am a huge Hugh Laurie fan, from his early work, all the way to his musical career, and the reference image I used had an intense star I really wanted to capture and do justice to.
After this, I did more and more portraits, each time I saw progression in detail and tone, and now portraits are all I do!

House Nick Harrigan

FB: In the one year since we met your followers have grown substantially. What are the most common commissions you get asked to create?
NH: Yeah it’s been great to see more people following and being fans of my work, I really appreciate everyone’s comments, it’s always great to hear such nice remarks, and I now see some of the same people at every event I attend.
I get a lot of requests for Marvel/DC characters still as you can imagine; barely a month goes by where a new comic book hero/villain doesn’t get a movie or tv show announced or released. So it’s been great to see more classic and underrated characters come to the forefront of cinema and tv. Fanbases are getting bigger, and this is having an effect on who people want to see drawn. More recently Arrow is one I have been asked for by I’d say at least 30 followers! Flash and Daredevil have probably been a close tie for second which is why I have finally managed to get round to finishing them!
But I also get asked to create more personal commissions. Turning someone’s family or friend into a superhero… or villain! Which is really nice, because I get to combine what they love with who they love.

Joker Nick Harrigan

FB: If you had no constraints of time or money, what project would you love to bring to life?
NH: A project I’ve started recently makes me really excited to be honest. I wish I had more time to really get my teeth into it. But the project I’m working on in-between commissions is a Star Wars Portrait Collection. I’ve drawn a few Star Wars characters before, but recently I drew Rey from The Force Awakens, it probably had the best reception out of any of my portraits. It took the longest yet – over 50 hours, and in my opinion, she’s probably the best and most detailed portrait I’ve done to date. So I decided after that, I was going to create a huge Star Wars Collection in this same style. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and when I started to visualise what each piece was going to look like, I wanted to get started on it right away! Which is probably why Darth Vader is already complete. I’m still not sure who’s going to be next, but let’s just say, all your favourites will be in the collection.

FB: Think about the face of the person you would love to draw live: who does it belong to and why?

NH: Wow that’s a hard question! There are so many actors I’d love to draw, people like Hugh Jackman, Chris Pratt & Arnold Schwarzenegger who I all think would be brilliant fun to meet. There’s’ also others I’d love to try capture the features of, Zooey Deschanel for her eyes, Rachel McAdams for her smile. But I’m more inclined to say someone like Sir Ian McKellen for both these reasons. He springs to mind when I think of an iconic face and I love his work. I’ve drawn him as part of an X-men piece before, but not to the level of detail I’d like; I’d love to capture him on paper properly.

FB: What’s next for you?
NH: Hopefully onwards and upwards! I have a few Comic Conventions booked in the coming months but I’m hoping to fill my year with as many as possible. I love attending them, I always have a great time, whether that’s from a successful weekend selling, or meeting great people and other artists like myself who are just looking for their shot. So hopefully you’ll be able to catch me at an event near you in the next year or so!