Neil Carribine

Neil Carribine’s playful, quirky characters are a breath of colourful fresh air. We stopped by for a chat with him about elephants and how to make your first million. Enjoy.

How did you get started as an artist?
I always liked drawing wiggly men and taking photographs when I was younger, and later on I went to Newcastle College to study Arts Foundation. I was introduced to Fine Art and it was love at first sight. We went to Sheffield Hallam University to take the next step in our relationship and although it was a rough start, the bond we had was unbreakable. We finally tied the knot at my graduation in 2014 and moved into a studio at Exchange Place Studios with a couple of friends and worked on our colouring in.

cloud man

Your artwork revolves around bright colours and quirky patterns and characters. What are the influences which inspire your work?
This sounds like a typical artist’s response, but I’m influenced by everything. I regularly take my sketchbook out and draw what interests me. I love people-watching and the weird and quirky characters that are about. I’m interested in how people move, talk and interact with each other. I try to capture these elements in my sketchbook and exaggerate them which often results in bizarre-looking figures. I sometimes add patterns that I’ve created from lines I naturally draw or observational drawings. I’ve started to play around with layering patterns and colours on top of each other to create quirky backgrounds.

you look wonderful

Your elephant has recently been put up on the Moor. How did you get involved in the Herd of Sheffield project and how did you come up with the design for your elephant sculpture?
I originally found out about the Herd of Sheffield when I saw photos of George Law’s elephant on Instagram. I wanted to get involved but I found out about it too late and missed the original deadline. Luckily I was sent an email from Sheffield Hallam asking for past students to submit a design. My design was shortlisted and was sponsored by Westfield Health. My elephant, titled ‘…And Repeat’, was inspired by David Mckee’s book Elmer. I wanted my elephant to be just as colourful and playful as Elmer, with an overload of colour and plenty of different but complementary patterns.


Any tips on how to survive and make money from your art?
I run a ‘How to Survive and Make Money From Your Art’ class every Thursday night. Each class is a reasonable £85, book now and save 10%…

Neil’s top 5 tips for how to make your first million as an artist:

1. Be passionate and have confidence in what you do – it’s easier to take people’s money if they believe in your worthless junk.
2. Have an online presence – show everyone you are a fancy artist.
3. Copy successful artists.
4. Take part in events such as Peddler Night Market to sell work, meet new people and build your fan base.
5. Trust your gut – if something feels right then it’s probably going to be right. If something doesn’t feel right then it’s probably not right or it’s salmonella.

i grow tired of you

What are you currently working on?
I’ve recently moved into my own studio at Exchange Place Studios so a lot of my time has been soaked up sorting everything out. Once everything has settled down, I’m wanting to do some experimentation with screen printing – layering-up patterns, lines and shapes to see what I come up with. I’m hoping this will open me up to new ideas and free my work up. On 19 September I’m taking part in the ‘Doodle Wall’ at PLY in Manchester. Come and see me attempt to paint and eat pizza. The official launch is on Thursday 22 September.

fat hot pants

Good advice you wish you’d been told earlier?
Keep making work and don’t be afraid of failure – from making work and trying out ideas (even if they’re successful or not) you will learn something, which can be put into the next idea. I was always told this at university but it didn’t sink in until my final year tutor pushed me to try out and experiment with the ideas I had. I regret not doing this earlier when I had access to all of the facilities and advice at university.

Check out Neil’s website here.


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