Artistic License: Emer Whelan - The Gloss Magazine

Artistic License: Emer Whelan

Emer Whelan’s new exhibition Kaleidos’ at The West End Art Collective in Galway, exudes energy, reflecting her passion for exploring the boundaries of traditional mediums and vibrant colours …

How and where to do you work?

How I work is a combination of designing and sketching at home and then studio time with the laser when cutting and painting the individual pieces for each artwork. I am lucky enough to have my studio next to my house so it is great that I have the opportunity to divide my time between them both. 

Who or what was instrumental to your career as an artist?

My parents were instrumental to my career as an artist, providing me with an incredibly inspiring childhood. They always encouraged me and my siblings to pursue our passions and find joy in what we do. My mother, an extraordinary painter and sketcher, filled our home with her beautiful artwork, igniting my own creative spark. My father, with his deep love for nature, took us on countless adventures exploring the woods and visiting the islands on Lough Mask. These experiences not only enriched our imaginations but also instilled in me a profound appreciation for the natural world, which continues to influence my art. Their unwavering support and the magical moments we shared have been the foundation of my artistic journey.

Tell us about the background to your new exhibition?

“Kaleidos” has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. The exhibition marries lakeside tranquility with urban living, reflecting my personal journey. Growing up surrounded by nature, I spent my childhood immersed in serene landscapes, which deeply influenced my appreciation for the peacefulness of the outdoors. Now living in Galway city, I am surrounded by vibrant colours and energy, from festivals and performances to the artistic surroundings that permeate urban life. This exhibition combines these two worlds, capturing the essence of both the natural and the urban environments that have shaped my artistic vision.

You work with lasers and wooden canvasses – how difficult is this technique to master?

Mastering the technique of working with lasers and wooden canvasses has been a challenging yet rewarding journey. I began with a small 35W tabletop laser in March 2020, which provided a great introduction to the basics of CO2 lasers. This initial investment allowed me to ease into the complexities of laser work. By 2022, I was ready to tackle larger projects and experiment with different materials, leading me to invest in a 150W laser. Through numerous trials and errors and an incredible amount of YouTube videos, I taught myself the techniques for cutting wood and also how to repair the laser when needed. Understanding the technical aspects and lingo has taken years, and I am continuously learning and discovering the machine’s full potential every day.

Colour is obviously key to your creative process …

Absolutely. Colour is essential to my creative process. I love to push the boundaries of traditional colour combinations, creating dynamic pieces that make your eyes dance from one part of the artwork to the next. I believe that colours have the power to trigger memories and evoke emotions, often igniting a sense of nostalgia and connection within the viewer.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The most exciting part of what I do is bringing an idea to life. When I’m in the design phase, I envision the piece starting to take form. I can’t wait to head out to the workshop and witness it come alive, each piece growing its own unique personality. The journey from concept to creation is incredibly fulfilling. Having my four-year-old and two-year-old at home with me, I also get to share the creative process with them, just as my own mother did with me.

Need to Know: Kaleidos by Emma Whelan opens on July 13 at The West End Art Collective, 2 Dominick Street Upper, Pump Lane, Galway. Pieces start from €345 and are available from


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