An interview with Jock Mooney – a ray of light on Insta, immortalising contemporary icons & The Golden Girls.

During the midst of this weird pants Black Mirror episode, I’ve been taking solace in two things…..

  1. Artists on Instagram – I’ve taken a leaf out of graphic designer Emily Coxhead’s ethos and want my social media no longer full of toxic, negative stuff and to let go of the things I’ve got no control over (I am feeling a sense of acceptance for my HUGE income loss) and wanting a newsfeed full of happy things. Instead, I want to look on the bright side, look at lush artist’s work, my feed to be full of lush creative talent and BOLD colour.
  2. Nostalgia – I’m filling my “me” time with books, films, series, icons and things from decades ago. I want things like Paris & Nicole, Britney Spears, Beetlejuice, Something About Mary, Chicken Soup for the Soul…… I’m such a 90s/00s kid so filling my mind and heart with things I know and love!

An artist that brings both these things together is Jock Mooney. His Insta feed is just mega and brings such light into my life – it’s full of colour, puns, characters and celebrities we know and it makes me smile. We all need a little more of that right now! I’ve wanted to interview Jock for a few years now – but I stumbled across his Brexit cat piece at Vane recently and it prompted me to get in touch.

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From Spiceworld to Brexit – image credit: Colin Davison

Jock is such a talented artist and covers a broad range of mediums. Jock Mooney was born in Edinburgh but is currently represented by Vane, a lush indie gallery in Newcastle. His graphics, prints and sculpture have been exhibited internationally solo and in group exhibitions. He designs for his apparel company VONK – it’s basically Jock’s work printed onto T-shirts and garments. I’m so here for it and need all of it.

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He ALSO (yep us creative types are rarely locked into on thing) 50% of highly acclaimed animation duo, Alasdair & Jock. The two have directed projects for The Beatles, Coldplay and David Gilmour amongst many others. They’ve also had work projected onto Buckingham Palace. Ah-mazing!

Well enough from me – over to Jock!

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Jock Mooney

Hi Jock, right – the existential crisis question….. Who are you?

I am Jock Mooney, and I would say I am an artist / animation director / illustrator / designer. Not very catchy, but I do various projects across various disciplines. I prefer to not pigeonhole myself, that’s boring!

No-one likes a beige buffet – so the less boring the better! Tell my fellow Culture Vultures about your journey into the creative industries?

I did sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art between 2000 – 2004.  After Edinburgh, I was based in Newcastle for a while, which is a city I still love very much. I’m represented, for fine art, by Vane, who have a gallery on Pilgrim Street.

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Who Are You & What Do You Want – image credit: Colin Davison

In 2008 I moved down to London and continued to be an artist, but that was literally when the financial crash happened; just when I was starting to sell work!  It was also, thankfully, around the time that an old flatmate of mine (one of my first flatmates actually from Edinburgh), got in touch about collaborating. That was Alasdair Brotherston and it was for a music video, for a band called the Tom Fun Orchestra. The video ended up doing really well and won ‘Best Video’ at the Canadian version of The Brits.  So we basically continued to work together, and we still do, in tandem with whatever other things either of us has going on.

I also have a t-shirt company with some old school pals of mine from the Scottish Borders. The company is called VONK and we started out in 2019, getting a feature on Lorraine Kelly just months after being in business!

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Ohh – a shout out from Lorraine – that’s MEGA! Tell us about some recent projects you’ve been working on?

With Alasdair, I’ve been very lucky to recently do three projects for The Beatles. Two music videos and a lyric video. ‘Here Comes the Sun’ was the most recent one, which was produced by Maria Manton who is a bit of a legend in the animation industry!  The video was released in September 2019 and it has had over 21 million views on YouTube which is pretty good!

You can watch the video here.

Tell us about the Inspiration for your work?

For my artwork, my inspiration falls somewhere in between historical references, kitsch, adolescent humour and pop. I like to combine highbrow and lowbrow references. My most recent solo show was more of a reflection of our current state being called ‘From Spiceworld to Brexit’.

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From Spiceworld to Brexit – image credit: Colin Davison

When it comes to VONK and the t-shirt design side of things, that’s a bit more direct in terms of subject matter. They are designed to be popular, ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s subverted references, preferably with punning titles.  So, things like ‘Mermaid, She Wrote’, ‘My Little Ciccone’, ‘Cat Lady Gaga’, etc.  A large amount of people who appreciate my work are young, so I am aware of that, not everyone can afford an original artwork or print, but they might be able to afford a t-shirt.

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How can I buy your work? What can I buy?

I like this question!  For artworks, from drawings and sculptures to screen prints then Vane is the place! They have an online shop and they also offer Own Art when it comes to making a purchase if that helps.

For t-shirts, vest, tote bags VONK is the place. We can be found at http://www.hellovonk.com. For the moment we are also offering free shipping worldwide!

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How do decide which contemporary subjects, you’re going to immortalise in a piece?  

I have to feel some sort of personal connection or interest. I can’t really do something ‘popular’ just for the sake of it. There has to be something there.

Think carefully – this question will define our future potential friendship Britney or Christina?

I’m more on the Britney spectrum. Blackout is one of the best pop albums ever.

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Right answer – it’s always #britneybitch time. Can you reveal your next design subject?

Well… there’s stuff I can’t legally talk about that may happen; I hope. In this current climate I think just managing to get through the next few months will be such a focus. We all need to look out for each other and hope we all get out on the other side.

VONK are about to release an AMAZING Golden Girls (with a twist) design!

I LOVE your Golden Girls new graphic – who is your favourite golden girl and why?

That is pretty difficult. I think The Golden Girls, a bit like the Spice Girls, are so popular because of their different, defined characters, and how well they complement each other.  I’d love to say ROSE though, but Betty White is fucking impressive.

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You’ve got such a great Insta following and you bring to life icons that people know and love – have you had any celebrities reach out in support……

For animation work, Alasdair and I recently won an award at the British Animation Awards. There were a few big names there who were very complimentary, which is certainly validating.

For artwork, I’ve had a few compliments here and there!  For t-shirts, Keith Lemon has said some very nice things, I know that Bianca Del Rio owns a couple of shirts!  The designs have been on TV a few times, sometimes on a celebrity, so that is obviously really great to see. I know MNEK has a Virgin Mariah shirt, he is utterly amazing!  Jodie Harsh also recently commissioned me to do a couple of portraits for her, which was really fun; she’s a LEGEND.

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Who Are You & What Do You Want – image credit: Colin Davison

LOVE Bianca Del Rio! Any other artists you recommend that fellow Culture Vultures should check out?

I always really, really, really, enjoy Jessica Harrison’s work. She’s amazingly talented and went to Edinburgh College of Art too.  From an animation perspective, there’s a studio called Moth who always make very lovely work, as does a studio called Wednesday Studio who do really beautiful stuff.

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From Spiceworld to Brexit – image credit: Colin Davison

What’s next for you?

I think I am making a REALLY HOT chickpea curry for dinner.

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From Spiceworld to Brexit – image credit: Colin Davison

Good answer – fax me some. Check out Jock’s work and follow him on Insta – I can guarantee you’ll love it. Check out VONK too – I thought I had enough tote bags in my life – but turns out, that I was wrong…..

Until next time Culture Vultures!

 

 

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