Last December, the entire country sat to watch the Late Late Toy Show, as is required by our constitution (we’re pretty sure). In between the sassy farmer kids and the Billy Barry kids we were blown away by the amazing street art which was shown in between breaks. That art was the work of Waterford lady, Caoilfhionn Hanton. Caoilfhionn has been brightening up the streets of Waterford as part of the Waterford Walls festival since 2014 and is fast becoming recognized as one of Ireland’s most promising young artists.

She’s also so freaking cool its disgusting….

My official title is …

Self-taught street artist, maybe? Bit if a weird one. I want practicing street art to be my official job one day soon. I don’t have an “official title” in that regard yet as I work self-employed doing commissions/murals at the moment alongside a side job as technical support agent in my local call centre. Honestly not as dismal as it sounds and I would recommend anyone who wants to further their customer service skills to experience this kind of job once (if you need to!). I support myself through this job to buy art materials, fund trips to art jams and loads of other professional adult-y things.

That means that I …

have been teaching myself how to paint murals, photoshop and realistic portraiture. I’m also trying to find my individual style. On a bad day, I can spend hours painting a craggy wall in awkward weather conditions, hungry and tired in order to develop my work further. They’re far and few between though, thankfully!

The three best things about my job that make me jump out of bed in the morning are …

The spontaneity of working outside and creating dialogue with the curious strangers asking questions on the street is definitely my biggest love of street art. I like drawing at home with a good Spotify playlist on but the rush of interaction on the street and creating live art usually trumps the peace of isolation! People who live locally, tourists, businessmen rushing on their way to work, people who can barely speak English; anyone and everyone who is impressed or has an input regarding your work will stop you and make conversation usually.

I think it’s lovely and kids are especially astounded with the process. It gives me hope that I might be inspiring someone to get out there and try create something that everyone can enjoy. Not even exclusive to anything artistic, but the actual performance of going outside and having the nerve make yourself visible excites me. A lot of people, young and old, might never have seen a young woman like myself do something seen archaically as “graffiti” and primarily masculine before. It’s not really breaking gender norms but it feels extra rewarding that I’m in a small bracket of women who spray-paint in Ireland. I hope this emboldens other girls who might have the same ambition. I also love the colours I get to play around with, crafting my technical skills of portraiture and surprising myself when I take a risk and it pays off.

The three not-so-great things about my job that make me roll over and bury my head in my pillow are …

I’ll admit it. I am an indoors person inherently and am not the physically strongest. Carrying loads of spray cans in a bag through the streets of Dublin when you’re 5’1 and clumsy is daunting and totally #morto. I’m not the best navigator either so getting to the painting destination means I’m on a ride-or-die trip with Google Maps. Additionally, I procrastinate habitually and tend to perform every function best in life when I’m under pressure. I’m working on being more productive and be more reliant, but through my slightly grim call centre job I’ve been able to buy myself the necessary tools to do the jobs I would have previously been put off by. Slowly getting there.

I tend to over-think, too. Everyone does but it’s unhelpful in this profession when you’re under extreme time pressure and sometimes harsh weather conditions to get the job done. I might be delighted with the progress of my piece, but I’m always thinking someone is staring at my work 1/4 in and thinking it’s completed already and awful. When I step away from the wall, I know this isn’t accurate and most people are only admiring your work. I’m only 20 now and began painting properly two years ago, so I’ve only literally popped out of the art womb. I doubted myself before last year and was too scared to give freehand painting a go. I’m so glad I did, though, because I’m honestly killing it so far and I’m delighted my newer work backs my ridiculous claims up. I’m not egocentric or boastful, just proud of my journey and excited to learn further. If ya don’t love yo self, how in the hell you gonna love anybody else? Can I get an amen?

I bagged this job by …

Committing myself to practicing art from a young age and progressing further even when I thought I would never be able to paint like the more “established artists”. I was the kid in the class doodling on all her books and was made an absolute holy show of more than a few times when teachers would comment on the scribbles. It was a subconscious thing, I’m not that messy naturally! I was the primary school premier tattoo artist and my medium was Crayola markers.

I found my love of portraits in fourth year, did my work experience with Dublin artist Steve Kemp and learned to stencil. From stenciling my first piece ever in the New Street Gardens when I was 16 and clueless to painting my extremely popular mural of my little brother Alfie for Waterford Walls when I was 17 and being less clueless, I’ve put the graft in since then. I’ve gotten new business connections through the Waterford Walls festivals over the last few years and built up an online presence as a young artist. I just want to create and make the world visually nicer as cringy as it sounds?

The best advice I could give someone who likes the sound of my job is …

Don’t give up. It’s not easy but it is very rewarding. I’m only beginning so I tell myself this often, and as generic advice can get, it works. I’m aware that everyone’s life is different. I’m lucky that my family supports me and often helps me on the job. My dad is an engineer and has a mathematical mind, which is handy with preparing the piece. My mam is creative and helps me come up with ideas and organize myself. I’m fortunate that I’ve had useful resources to help and I honestly couldn’t have progressed to where I am without these elements. I personally don’t think you need a Bachelors level 8 in fine art to paint but I hope to eventually do some sort of visual communications course soon. Ya girl wants to be educated but can’t decide where to go yet. I don’t feel under any immense pressure to figure out my life’s path just yet. I just hope to be content with all I do. I think that whatever circumstances you’re in, art is not just for the stark white gallery and is not exclusive to any archetype of person. If you aren’t where you want to be just yet, that’s ok. Neither am I, but I think as long as you truly believe you’ve potential to be your best self and create something one day you’d never think you’d be capable of, you’ll be spurred to actualize this.

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