It may look like wallpaper, but peer closer at one of Flore de Hoog’s designs and you’ll see the artist has hand-drawn the patterns directly onto the wall. Here, de Hoog tells us all about her craft
I am an artist but when people ask what I do, I say I draw on walls, which is not very sophisticated-sounding! I use Molotow paint pens to create freehand patterns on people’s walls; I’ve always had a bit of a thing for repetition, having studied textiles at the Glasgow School of Art.
I’ve also got a degree in fine arts, but for years I didn’t do anything creative. For some reason, I never thought I would be good enough. I mainly worked in pubs and bars, and even tried to get a degree in hairdressing. A turning point came around four or five years ago, after attending my first life-drawing class in a decade. I started making and selling wall hangings and drawings and had a few big sales at Mount Florida Gallery & Studios. From there, I began transferring my drawings onto walls.
It’s nerve-wracking when I start a new wall; I do everything by eye. People often ask me ‘How does it look so perfect?’ but I’ll be able to spot a patch here and there that looks emptier than the others. I also can’t do conventional, photorealistic drawings – when I draw a wonky dog, that’s me really trying to draw a realistic dog. A lot of people say I should get wallpaper made, but that’s exactly what I don’t do! My work would be boring if it was regimented and completely perfect.
I’m inspired by old Soviet patterns. I started off designing gymnasts and divers because I like the synchronicity. There’s something about it that really speaks to me.
Often, clients get in touch before they have an idea of what they want me to do. Sometimes they’ll choose a design they’ve already seen on my Instagram (@floredehoog), like my parrots, and other times they’ll ask for something custom.
Recently, I worked on a block of flats in a converted church, drawing on a huge wall in the close. I ended up doing Glasgow landmarks; all the people who lived there individually requested different things that meant something to them. For another commission, a couple who had been on a huge road trip around America asked me to draw some of the buildings and landmarks they’d seen. It was so personal to them, and I got to hear all about their lives and their trip while I worked on it, which I just loved.
On average, it takes a day to draw on one wall. I generally work for six or seven hours, because it gets physically tiring after that. The day will start off slow as I get to grips with the pattern, and I’ll usually do a few trials on paper first. Sometimes my dog Patrick comes with me – he’s a Romanian stray with a long body and short legs, and he’s a very good boy.
While I’m drawing, I love listening to interesting podcasts such as The Blindboy Podcast, This American Life and Invisibilia. It feels so great once I get into the swing of things and the wall is starting to shape up; it’s my own little bubble and I love it.
A career highlight was collaborating with the paint brand Lick. I reached out to them because I think their paint is amazing, and we worked together on an incredible recording studio and creative hub in the west end of Glasgow called Dystopia.
When I’m not working, I play music in two bands. One of them, Brenda (who I sing and play synths for), has just been signed, which is exciting.
I live in Govanhill, and I love going to restaurants such as Lobo and Ranjit’s Kitchen, as well as Fulton’s on Victoria Road – it’s a proper caff and is totally unpretentious. Everyone comes in, from hipsters to grannies and aunties, and it’s run by a gay couple. It sums up Govanhill!
My dream would be to do my job in a similar way to how some tattoo artists work, flying to different places around the world and letting people know I’m in town that week and available for work. I could do residencies in places like Brooklyn. I don’t know if that’s achievable – but who knows?