Retail withdrawal symptoms can be quelled with thoughtful online purchases for birthday gifts, to elevate our spirits and help small local and family run businesses, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
Stymied by little access to traditional retail at the moment has us getting online for gift shopping, but it can be all too easy to log onto websites of well-known big brands and forget there is so much available locally that is novel, creative and won’t clutter the world up with plastic packaging.
Add in the fact we’re helping small Irish businesses in the process and we can feel we’ve done something of real value for everyone involved.
Take a look at posters which have become an easy and eye-catching way to decorate our walls.
Beloved of teenagers to plaster their bedroom walls, and students trying to inject some of their own personality into sometimes dreary accommodation, the poster has come a long way as something to straddle the worlds of design and art.
Starting out as a method of advertising, posters have grown to be covetable, especially ones we’d now consider vintage, some even going right back to the Art Nouveau movement when, in effect, they were functional art, something both useful and decorative.
While the poster print continues to function as an advertisement, canny graphic designers and illustrators have developed it into an art genre all of its own.
One of them is Jason O’Gorman who has a singular focus to his work: Cork.
It provides an endless source of inspiration for his creativity and has earned him the nickname Mr Cork from his friends due to his love of his native city.
“Cork is my passion,” he says, “and I draw the stuff I love. I have no ambitions to have a villa in Spain. I’ll live and die in Cork.”
Such enthusiasm from this local patriot has resulted in a collection of poster prints from his studio with depictions of Cork that range from the humorous to the fantastical, and there are some you’ll only get, like an in-joke, if you are a citizen of the People’s Republic.
All of them are beautifully executed with art standard inks on archival paper and available from www.jasonogorman.ie.
Starting at €35, which includes shipping worldwide, Jason’s business has adapted effortlessly to lockdown, involving a move from his city-centre office to a creative space at home.
“Working on my own has given me time to slow down and be creative,” he explains.
“When the kids are in bed, my wife and I get busy wrapping up the prints for shipping worldwide.
"Lots of countries are not taking parcels but our posters are lightweight and there’s no plastic in the packaging.”
Among his collection is a map of Cork but rather than showing street names, it has Cork slang instead.
Another is a composition of Cork landmarks which an ex-pat can have fun with trying to recall where exactly they’re located, and also be mesmerised by a fantasy rendition of Cork Harbour.
A couple of times a week Jason walks out masked up to the post office which happens to be within two kilometres of his house.
“It’s magic to know that they’re going to hang on someone’s wall across the world, he says.”
Another outlet for creativity is Jam Art Prints in Dublin, run by Mark Haybyrne and his brother John, which they set up in 2011 mid-recession.
They now sell through their website Jamartprints.com at prices ranging from €15 to €300, and which are despatched at €3.95 to Irish addresses and €6.90 internationally, regardless of how many items are ordered.
“We have screen prints, digital prints and limited editions from fifty Irish based artists,” says Mark.
“There are over a thousand to choose from on the site right now.”
Covering a range of themes and styles, starting at A4 size, expect to find depictions of pubs which an Irish immigrant might welcome as a connection with home, especially at the moment, and enjoy a touch of nostalgia and memories of a misspent youth.
Famous landmarks with a twist are another topic.
Dublin’s Ha’Penny Bridge is the subject of Rewilding Fox (€18) which features a sharp-eyed vixen on the bridge in the dead of night.
Timely, for sure, when lockdown has seen wild animals venturing into our deserted towns and cities.
“People like things from where they came from,” Mark says.
“There’s a memory of Ireland in it. At the same time you’re helping a local business and the artists.
"It’s not mass produced. It actually means something.”