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Artist Loch Ness: ‘colourful, surreal and out-there’

Loch Ness is a freelance artist and muralist based in Bristol, UK, specialising in psychedelic, surreal imagery.

Inspired by a deep respect for our environment he uses a variety of mediums and techniques to create art that transports you to an ‘otherworldly’ dimension influenced by social and environmental justice, psychedelic music and spiritual extrasensory perception.

In this interview, we learn more about his fascinating work, his inspirations and what led him to take the plunge and go freelance.

‘Bubblegum Brain’ by Loch Ness
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a self-taught artist/illustrator in my mid-thirties. I grew up in Glasgow and then spent most of my adolescence in Brighton. I re-located to Bristol to study, loved the culture it represented, and haven’t left since.

What led you to go freelance?

I was made redundant from my graphic design job during the financial crash. The only thing I really wanted to pursue was something in the Arts. So, it seemed like the right time to just go for it myself.

What do you think makes a good illustrator?

It’s not for the faint-hearted. You need to be determined, creative and love what you do to get through the hard work, late nights and uncertainty. Humility and being willing to learn from others/peers has been important for my personal development.

How would you define your style?

I find it hard to define my style because it’s always evolving. It’s always colourful, surreal and ‘out-there’, with some kind of root in environmental and psychedelic inspiration.

What do you hope people take away from your illustrations?

A connection or that the work inspires them in some way.

What does your workstation look like?

Functionally chaotic, here’s a picture.

How did you get to where you are now?

Sleepless nights, haha. Erm…I guess drawing weird monsters/creatures since I was a child. I feel it’s always important to draw every day, no matter what you draw. I taught myself to draw in both traditional and more ‘illustrative’ styles, so I knew how to use different techniques in my work. Also, it’s always good to connect with other artists and learn from them as well. I’m always trying to learn and evolve as an artist and if my work connects with just one person then I feel I’ve done my job.

‘Evolve’ by Loch Ness
You work both digitally and traditionally. Which one do you prefer and why?

I do both but depends on the type of work/brief I’m doing at the time. As I’m more hands-on I would say I prefer working traditionally but find a different kind of inspiration in digital work.

We love the work you did for our 1.8 update. Tell us what inspired you to create this piece.

At the time I created the piece I was inspired by environmental factors and the human exploitation of animals. Music constantly inspires my work, so it always finds its way into a piece I’m creating. I usually go with the flow and see/feel what inspires me at the time I’m getting creative.

‘Wild At Heart’ created by Loch Ness in Affinity Designer
Video showing the making of ‘Wild At Heart’
What are your thoughts about Affinity Designer?

I really loved using it—it’s easy to use, quick, sleek, has great functionality. I will definitely use it to create more pieces in the near future.

What tools have you found most useful?

The function to easily switch between vector/raster instead of switching between programs. There is a quick gradient and transparency feature which streamlines the process in the click of a button. The new shape tools were fun to play around with too.

Do you prefer to sketch your designs first before converting them into digital format?

Always. As an artist, I never want to lose the ability to draw. I feel my mind works more freely when I sketch or ink out a piece first.

How do you start a project and when do you know it’s finished?

I always start with hand-drawn sketches of ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Then I combine all the elements I like and try to connect them into one big free-flowing piece. I find it hard to know when it’s finished—I suppose the deadline will tell me that! I feel lots of artists are never completely satisfied with a piece and could always find improvements or additions…it’s never-ending.

What’s the weirdest brief you’ve ever been given?

The weirder the better. Generally, when people come to me it’s because they want a dab of the absurd, so perhaps just when they tell me to go wild with my own ideas. Once I had to paint a fibreglass lobster for a trail in France in association with the Centre Pompidou.

Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

I was born in a desert on the outskirts of Iraq.

You can find more of Loch Ness’ amazing work on his website

Artist relations

Amy is part of our artist relations team here at Serif. Amy loves going for walks with her little boy and going to the gym, which she offsets by drinking tea and eating biscuits. Get in touch with Amy if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, she always loves getting great creative work in her inbox, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.

Credits & Footnotes

All images copyright © of Loch Ness and used with permission.