Neil Keating is a Liverpool-born artist whose path was also set among the peers he found in further education. “I went to art college when I was 17 and met a group of artists there I still have connections with today, 20 years later,” he says. “It was a good core group and we all collaborated a lot. It was quite competitive and that’s what inspired me.”
From that starting point, Keating has gone on to find numerous outlets for his ideas, including but not limited to screen-printed shirts and posters, animated web graphics and character design, and hand-painted murals for nightspots and eateries. As with Beaumont, he finds life in other people, his art is social art, inspired mostly, he says, by the city of Liverpool itself: “I’m on the pulse of things here at the minute, in terms of how bars and restaurants are using their spaces around town. I’ve been in Liverpool all my life and live slap bang in the middle of it. It’s exciting for me to feel like I’m at the centre of something, pushing things on myself rather than watching others do it.”
Liverpool must be an exciting city to find yourself at the centre of, a nighttime city that lives for the weekend’s blurred edges and dark corners – whether they’re located on the thronged strips off Concert Square or in an old, derelict supermarket down by the docks. “Liverpool’s a very musical city, people are always open to new ideas,” enthuses Beaumont. “It’s growing constantly, even as clubs are occasionally shutting down due to development. I think Liverpudlians are really easy to get on with, and it’s nice to see the younger generation putting on their own parties. It’s a city that has a great atmosphere.”
Keating feels the same, eschewing the blue-light lure of digital life to seek out energy and impetus in the world outside his window. “I like real. I like real life; going round, speaking to people, seeing what they’re doing,” he explains. “If they’ve got an idea they want me involved with, I’d much rather communicate directly and feel the energy from it on a personal level. Liverpool is a great place for finding that energy.”
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