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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Geo Law

Kiehl's, New York

Oisoi Oriental Market

Geo Law's work can be spotted a mile off. Often because it takes the form of huge eye-catching murals, but also because his energetic and fun style is unlike anyone else's. Scenes by Geo tend to feature fantastical characters – somewhere between birds, bears, cats and dogs – gathered together and having a happy time amongst clouds, hills or cityscapes.

Geo's work has appeared in the New York Times, Stylist Magazine and the Washington Post, and he's created murals at companies such as Facebook, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Tumblr. Seeing his doodles on the wall would brighten up the most dismal of days at the office. He also shares his love of drawing for drawing's sake with others at his monthly Doodle Club at Nice Neighbourhood.

Geo's been doodling his way around Sheffield for a few years now and frankly it's a crime that we haven't featured him in Meet the Locals sooner! Here he is on his inspirations and his ways of working.

How would you describe your work?
My work is a mix of digital and analogue doodling with splashes and dots of colour and characters that inhabit worlds that exist halfway between nowhere and somewhere.

What inspires you?
A lot of things such as travelling, printed media, animation, paintings, video games, comic books and toys. I tend to fall back to looking at old Japanese animation such as Studio Ghibli and modern day cartoons like Adventure Time. I think whenever I’m away from the studio I can be inspired by anything that catches my eye. A lot of my peers can inspire me to observe my work and role as an illustrator differently.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve been working on an exciting piece for a new Asian food market called Oisoi Oriental Market. It’s a 13-metre feature mural with plenty of colour, character and narrative to sink your eyes into. It’s one of my most colourful mural works – I tend to keep colour to a minimum but this was a case where the client wanted to use a wider palette and I felt obliged to take up the challenge. Other than that I’ve been teaching part time at Sheffield Hallam University across Illustration and Digital Media Production as well as working on personal doodle works and occasional commissions that are building up in the background.

What is your workspace like?
I’m currently based upstairs at Nice Neighbourhood on Glossop Road, sharing with design agency Lyon&Lyon. I live and work amongst functional chaos, where my desk is cluttered with neat piles and I have way too many pencil pots holding many pens that I don’t get to use – but it’s my desk! The environment is different to my previous workspace at S1 Artspace, which was more lively as it was a place of artistic practice. But at Neighbourhood there's a lovely vibe with the cafe downstairs, and sharing with a creative agency allows for a different convergence of ideas and discussion, which I really like.

What do you love about Sheffield?
Sheffield allows you enough breathing room to take the freelance route – with enough preparation you can set up your business and allow yourself precious time to develop and try out different ideas. Sheffield is also home for me, many of my friends here have set up businesses and settled within it so the community is a strong feature. It still has an interesting spirit of humbleness and quiet professionalism, which is what I try and imbue my work and process with too.

What would you do to improve the city?
I’d like to see more spaces where you can hot desk. We have a couple but I want more to encourage people to go work for themselves, base themselves in the city and mix it up with other freelancers. I’d also like to see a bit more encouragement and leniency towards independent businesses to help them set up in the city centre too. I walk past the occasional empty shop front and just feel it’s a little of a wasted opportunity. I don’t know the inner workings of how a city is run but I like to be idealistic about these things!

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