It's not often you meet one, but artist and designer Lois O Hara is a bona fide Brightonian born and bred. Her work reflects the vibrant, diverse and creative spirit of her hometown and her public art and large scale designs can be seen throughout the city. Brighton has a strong street art heritage, including Banksy's Kissing Coppers and bright, bold, gigantic murals. Visit Brighton, the city's official tourism site even features street art as a visitor attraction, and Lois appears twice in their top ten. I caught up with Lois to find out why she loves Brighton and how it inspires her work.
You've lived in Brighton all your life. Can you explain why you love it and how it influences your work?
Brighton influences my work as it is by the sea but also because it is filled with characters from all walks of life. You never know who you might meet in Brighton! It's a very charming and colourful place. I think that there has been an increase in street art, which is great.
Estrella Damm Lois O Hara. © Lois O'Hara
Lois has been involved in a whole range of public art projects, working with Brighton & Hove City Council and local businesses.
I did a fun collaboration for Never Normal Brighton & Sea lanes. I used a slightly different colour palette for this, to fit in with the natural wood cabins and the pebbles on the beach. It is now used as a backdrop for the yoga club. I also created The Colourful Wave Crossing as part of Brighton's annual pride celebrations.
The Colourful Wave Crossing. Commissioned by Brighton & Hove Council for Pride.
You create movement in design and believe that colour can have positive effects on people and places. How did this come about?
I loved watching cartoons and as a result, started drawing cartoons and caricatures. I think this is where my love of colour probably first came into play too, as cartoons are really colourful and vibrant. Maybe this is why my artwork has always had the storytelling element to it.
What colours bring you happiness and why?
Certain colour combinations bring me joy. Pink and orange together bring warmth, blue and pink bring a sense of balance (warm and cold), which makes me feel secure. I think it's different for everybody due to our own personal experiences.
Did you study art and design in the conventional way - what was your path to becoming a designer?
I always felt like my artwork/ideas were really different from my peers. University didn't give me much direction, so I had to find my own way. My teachers were never really aware of what was happening in the art industry, and instead, we had to follow the old-fashioned methodology. I like to see the positive in every situation, though. University gave me the motivation to prove others wrong. You can make good money as an artist!
Do you approach clients with ideas or do they find you?
I'm grateful now that clients approach me with work. I've been self-employed now for just over two years, but when I first started out, I was reaching out a lot. Please just look at my work! I was quite the pest!
Bradford Council Lois O_Hara 2021. © Lois O'Hara
When I look at your work, I'm struck by how your art is inspired by movement. Is this how you feel?
Absolutely! I'm inspired by nature i.e waves crashing, tides turning, branches swaying in the wind, so my work is very much fluid and organic. Therefore, I think that my work encourages people to move, whether that is physically or imaginatively. I did a really fun project for Brighton & Hove Buses. I designed the bus to resemble the movement of a classic bendy bus. I also used a really vibrant palette to ask the question: Why must buses be so boring?
Your work appears in lots of sporting venues. What's the connection?
I think my work aligns well with sport because I explore movement in design, which translates well when designing sports courts etc. Recently I designed a soccer ball for a company in America and my curved, fluid shapes seemed to work really nicely on a round object. Regarding my art courts, it is really satisfying to see the players all run around my curved shapes on the surface and seeing the children ride scooters up and down them.
Lois O Hara has certainly brought lots of colour and joy to grey urban spaces. If you ever visit our bright and beautiful city, keep your eyes peeled for her joyful designs. She's certainly one to watch,
Some of Lois' Favourite Things
Current Favourite Tunes
The Brighton Med - A small plate restaurant in the South Laine
Twisted Lemon - A hidden gem serving bargain cocktails
Favourite Brighton Artist
Brighton Dusk A local photographer with a passion for urban seascapes.
I'd like to thank Lois for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk about her work. To shop Lois O'Hara VISIT.