Originally from the UK, Nick Eggleston has made an impact on the New Zealand art scene with his instantly recognisable tattooed animal portraits. We spoke to Nick about his background and inspiration in the lead up to his solo exhibition ‘Sanctus Animalis’:
Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you from and how did you get started in art?
Originally from Hull, a hard-bitten port in Yorkshire, UK. It’s hard to say actually when I got started. Art is something I’ve always done from a very young age. However, about 20 years ago I broke my leg quite badly after getting run over by an Irish Wolfhound and decided to call it a day on my then day job and concentrate on developing my watercolours.
You have become well known for your tattooed bull terrier works. What characteristics drew you to the breed?
The Bull Terrier paintings came about after feeling the need to change direction with both my painting style and subjects. I wanted less, unnecessary detail and more slightly edgy subject.
So after seeing a bull terrier one day and deciding, they looked like very cheeky and fun dogs but with such an unusual face I decided to paint one.
And rather than a true representation I wanted to play with colour and add in some tribal markings, tattoos and piercings to reflect some human characteristics that maybe we project onto our dogs.
You also make your own shoes. How did you get starting in cobbling?
The shoemaking first took root back when I was at art college in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, after a discussion about cordwaining with one of my tutors (not “cobbling”… cobbling is shoe mending whereas cordwaining is shoemaking).
However, the idea got forgotten about until about 3 years ago when I felt I needed to try something just as creative but totally different from painting. I learnt the craft at a 5-day course in Tasmania.
I don’t get a lot of time to pursue it but it gives me a lot of pleasure wearing shoes that I made myself.
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive who would you choose to work alongside?
I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work with and collaborate on lots of projects with the other wonderful artists at The Incubator Creative Hub in Tauranga but if I were to choose someone from history then I’d have to say Leonardo; he had such a brilliant mind.
There’s a certain level of vulnerability in sharing your art with others, particularly online. Do you worry about people judging you and how do you handle negative feedback/comments?
I’ve not come across much negative feedback online. I always think not everyone has to like what I do so it’s best to just shrug. If I see something I’m not keen on I don’t feel the need to comment. I just scroll on. I think most folks are the same. You’ll always get a few trolls but they are the minimum and I think it usually says more about them than you.
If your five-year-old self suddenly found themselves inhabiting your current body, what would your five-year-old self do first?
If my 5-year-old self found himself inhabiting my body I guess he would get on my bike and ride… I always loved cycling as a kid, and Hull is very flat!
And finally the most important question of the day: which flavour do you avoid in a chocolate selection box at all costs?
The flavour I’d definitely avoid in a selection box of chocolates would be the white chocolate... Bleh! Revolting stuff!