Connecting with Liam Nunn: Anyone Can Be Good at Art

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Cwa Article

Image © Liam Nunn

Jersey – what comes to your mind?

Well, it’s home for me. I was born and raised here, so it’s everything that I know. It’s a weird little place, but it’s part of me as a person. 

What is your most memorable experience or accomplishment?

I’ve worked on marketing campaigns that have been nationally recognised. I’ve just had my ten-year anniversary in this field, so being recognised for work feels good. 

I started as a graphic designer, with an ability to illustrate. I did 2D animation at university (traditional, hand-drawn, frame-by-frame), which was great, but not necessarily great for getting a job. I came back to Jersey and realised I needed to retrain, so I taught myself programming. I got an apprenticeship, learned about design, and then became skilled about web design and web building. I realised my unique selling point was my ability to draw and illustrate, so I brought illustration back into what I was doing. Now I’m an animator and designer, and currently my job title is creative lead. My day-to-day is conceptualising marketing campaigns.

Grooves Unstable Fugazi Moustache Observe Week 35
Grooves | Unstable | Fugazi | Moustache | Observe
Week 35

If you could own any artwork, what would it be?

The Scream – a classic one, but I like things that pose questions, where it isn’t obvious what they mean. Calming landscapes aren’t for me. 

Edvard Munch The Scream, 1893
Edvard Munch
The Scream, 1893
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland

If there were a movie about your life, what would be the movie’s name and which actor would play you? 

I’ve got the easy option because I’ve got a bald head, so that anyone can do that. I would like it to be called ‘The Pursuit of Confidence’ – the balance between creative expression and being happy with the work you do. I’m thinking the actor would be Christian Bale because he’s excellent at morphing his body into different things.

Horse Ride Battle Paint Look Week 41
Horse | Ride | Battle | Paint | Look
Week 41
Reference: Louis XIV at the Taking of Besancon – Adam Frans van der Meulen, 1674

What do you think is the best way to connect with or experience art?

It’s interesting because a lot of art is now digital, and while it’s not the best way, it is an excellent way to see a lot of things. But the best is the old classic way: in the museum, ideally not close to anybody else. I went to New York last year, which was fantastic, except for all the other people that were in the way. It would be nice to do it in a vacuum.

How do you balance your full-time career and art? How do they fit together?

Probably not well. My job is linked and close. I like how close it is, but I also like that it’s different. I’m the kind of person who likes to work on different things. I don’t know if it’s positive or negative, whether it’s boredom or just a need to go onto something new. 

At the moment, I’m trying to make sure I’m doing more art. I’m doing digital art, which isn’t really what I prefer (I rather use proper tools and feel the materials), but digital art is faster and easier to fit around work. It’s better to be doing that than nothing.

I believe art is a case of practice: there’s an inherent natural ability (like with sport), but you need to work at it. Anyone can be good at art, but some people just don’t have the interest to carry on. I went to university with people who were more talented than me, but I’ve worked harder. I also know people who are less talented than me but have gone on to produce much better work. I know for a fact when I work hard at doing things, I get better. 

Calm | Warm | Thick | Earthy | Closed
Calm | Warm | Thick | Earthy | Closed
Week 15

What is your process of creating art digitally?

It’s reasonably similar to creating physical art. The main differences are: your canvas is smaller, it’s less messy, and you can press undo. I do it on the iPad, and the Apple pen feels decently like what you’re doing is happening on screen, unlike on the computer where there’s sometimes a lag. 

I take a reference, a colour palette, and I sketch as usual. I can put a detailed sketch in. Then I can work on another layer and delete it afterwards. I don’t have any residual lines that make it messy. It’s the same process as physical working; I just have the ability to press undo or try something in a layer and use effects. At times it does lack the same charm, though.

Presentation | Pale | Grand | Profile | Tranquil Week 21
Presentation | Pale | Grand | Profile | Tranquil
Week 21

Tell us about your experience with 52 portraits.

Creating is the best thing we can do, and it comes in many different forms: not just painting and art, but also music and cooking. There was an exploration of that in this. 

With creative things, it’s a battle for confidence. When you’re confident and know what you’re doing, it’s the best thing in the world. When you’re not 100% sure if it’s the right colour or mark, then it’s hard. I have thought, “I don’t know if I want to put this one out this week.” You doubt yourself; it happens to a lot of us, if not all of us. 

I’m doing this for me, and while I would love everyone in the world to see it, it’s not about that. It has been a pursuit of doing my own thing – a personal journey. Suppose anyone looks at it and takes something from it, then great. Doing this project has placed me and my creativity in front of more people’s eyes. 

In the pieces, I used my face because I had access to it and the ability to do different things with it. I like art to be what it is, even if it’s a little bit uncomfortable or grotesque. I’m able to do that with my own face more than I’m able to do it with anyone else’s face. I have been able to push things that were interesting to me since I’m not going to get upset if it’s not flattering. 

I know there are some weeks that have been better than others. Some pieces I thought were distinctly average have been really popular. It’s been quite a weird and incredible project. Being such a long project, it’s meant I’ve been able to do so many different things. 

I can’t wait for it to end, but I also already know I’m going to miss it. I’m working out what the next thing can be. I don’t want to necessarily do another ‘one-a-week’ project, but I’ll look to do something else. 

Seamless Concentration Situation Contrasting Flowing Week 14
Seamless | Concentration | Situation | Contrasting | Flowing
Week 14