Glasgow’s Christmas Artists

By Fionnuala Boyle

For artists at Christmas time, selling and grafting their work in the lead-up to the big day can be overwhelming. So with the Christmas rush officially underway, I caught up with some Glasgow artists to find out if, for them, it really is the most wonderful time of the year …

Stephen O’Neil (IG: @stephenoneilart) specialises in digital arts, prints and gifts. He draws inspiration from Edinburgh where he originally hales, and Glasgow where he is now based. In the last few months of the year, Stephen puts all his efforts into his shop, located on Pollokshaws Road in Glasgow’s Southside, to promote his Christmas creations.

Stephen O'Neil 2

[ By Stephen O’Neil. ]

“November and December is a total switch – you’re no longer an artist, you’re a salesperson”, Stephen said. “Everything is parked. I stop doing commissions and it goes on to standard work like Christmas cards and calendars.”

For Stephen, preparation is key and all his work is done months in advance to make way for the Christmas shoppers.

“Come January, you can be as creative as you want! That’s when I start liaising with other companies, doing graphics or logos, and working on new projects. But if you’re doing your Christmas artwork in December, it’s not selling! So it’s important to have that focus.”

Stephen feels there are a lot of opportunities in Glasgow for small businesses to thrive, with fares and markets taking place frequently across the city, showcasing some of Glasgow’s finest artists, illustrators and jewellery-makers.

“The whole market has totally exploded over the last ten years”, Stephen explained. “Now, every space has a good quality market selling really high quality stuff.

Glasgow is a great place to be for emerging artists, particularly at Christmas time.”

Claire Barclay (IG: @clairebarclaydraws) is a one-woman business creating fun and eye-catching illustrations from the quirks of modern day Scots. Claire is extremely busy over the festive season, but loves the buzz of it all.

“It is hard work, long hours but also lots of fun!” Claire enthused. “For an independent creative business like mine, the Christmas season is important as it is my busiest time of year for orders by a long shot.

It’s such a joy when customers decide to shop indie over the festive season and it’s so appreciated as it helps me to continue to create fresh new designs for the next year.”

Glasgow Girl Tote

[By Claire Barclay. ]

As an artist, Claire is always looking for inspiration for new pieces. This Christmas she is putting a seasonal twist on her signature Glaswegian designs.

“I like to create something a bit different such as Scottish slang on greetings cards, but this year I’ve done Christmas cards from different areas of Glasgow (Southside, West End and East End) which have been really popular so far.

I love creating work around my Scottish heritage and the fun dialect and sayings we have and it’s a fun challenge to incorporate them into my festive designs.”

Claire will be selling her work at some Christmas markets this year, including Etsy Made Local at The Briggait on Saturday 30th November and Super Market at Tramway from 15-16th December.

Emer Tumilty (IG: @emertumilty) is a Northern-Irish artist based in Glasgow who specialises in murals, set design and illustration. Emer finds the Christmas period a great time to recharge her artistic batteries.

“I really love creating new products for the Christmas season every year. It’s something different from doing design jobs for other people”, Emer explained. “Having my own online shop and range of wares gives me the freedom to experiment, have fun and come up with totally unique products that you can’t find anywhere else!”

“One of my new t-shirts is inspired by a day of drawing in the garden of House for an Art Lover this summer”, Emer went on, “and another t shirt design is inspired by the rug designs of modernist architect Eileen Gray.

There’s a diverse range of influences for my Christmas designs!”

'Stack' riso print

[ By Emer Tumilty. ]

Last month, Emer was involved in a project with Refuweegee at this year’s inaugural Glasgow Print Fair. “I had designed two different screen prints, and members of the public could come along and print one or both for free – one to keep, and one to donate to Refuweegee”, Emer explained. “They are now including them in their starter packs for people who are newly arrived to Glasgow and are making a new home here.”

“I believe that everyday encounters with art can be so beneficial to our wellbeing, and hopefully these small acts of giving and sharing art do make a difference.”

So this Christmas, shop local, support small independent businesses and donate what you can. Art can often feel secondary in people’s lives, but perhaps it is the most valuable gift you can give this Christmas as something timeless, personal and potentially life-changing.