Aoife Dooley is a Dublin-based illustrator and designer, best known for her beloved Your One Nikita web comic, which affectionately parodies ‘Dublin Huns’. Her first book How to Be Massive (Gill Books) features a wealth of vibrant and witty illustrations, captioned and brought to life by the type of humour one can only accumulate from years of living on the Northside of Dublin. You can join Aoife for a laugh at Humour in Modern Ireland, an event celebrating the unique and distinctly Irish sense of humour.
Q. As an illustrator, you have carved out quite a name and following for yourself with your popular web-based series Your One Nikita. How have you found the transition from creating for the web to working on your new book ‘How to be Massive’?
It was definitely a leap from screen to print. I had initially worked on screen because I had always hoped that my work would eventually go to print, but first I had to get recognised as an illustrator and what better way to do that than reaching out to people on the web. Working on the book needed a lot more concentration and planning out on what would go where and what chapters to include and constantly asking myself: ‘Is this good enough? Will people buy this? Would I buy this?’
Q. Ireland has a rich literary history and international reputation for producing some of the world’s most beloved writers. Do you think as a nation we place as much value and attention on the visual arts, and what advice can you give to young Irish illustrators hoping to make a name for themselves?
I think so, we have a strong illustration community (Illustrators Guild of Ireland) that is continuously expanding with a number of different styles and young members joining every year. As an illustrator, it’s very much about making your mark and you have to promote your work yourself and not be afraid to put it out there for the world to see. The main aim of what I do is to include everyone in the joke and introduce something new or something a little different to people and hope that they ‘get it’. For me, It’s always something that someone can relate to or see themselves or in their friends or family through illustrations, but this has taken a couple of years to build up to! I think without the illustrations, it wouldn’t quite work, as people can relate to certain aspects of things I would illustrate that when you see it you think ‘is a real Dublin thing’.
For new illustrators and people in college, all I would say is work hard and you’ll make your own look, find your own voice and you’ll know it when you do because it will just feel right if that makes sense. It will take some time but stick to your guns and always trust your gut. You have to believe in yourself first for others to believe in you.
Q. What book or artist’s work have come you come across recently that’s resonated with you?
I love Persepolis (Pantheon Graphic Novels) by Marjane Satrapi, that is by far my favourite book. It’s so beautifully illustrated, and you see the main character grow (literally) throughout the book as it is a graphic novel.
Q. Finally, what tips can you give our readers so they too can “be massive’’?
There is too many to choose from in the book (laughs)… you’ll have to pick it