Turning the ordinary to astonishing with Limerick's Ken Coleman

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan



COVID-19 lockdown can stifle the artistic mind or inspire it.
Ken Coleman is in the latter category. The 39-year-old Lisnagry man is a mixed media artist combining fine art training with photography, traditional sculpture, 3D Modelling, digital painting and emerging technologies.
Ken’s work has been published worldwide. Clients include The Cranberries and Blizzards among many others.
Some of the fruits of his creative lockdown labour can be seen on this page.
“There was a lot of confusion, panic and anxiety for everyone in mid-March. This does not help fuel creativity. Marga, my fiancee is a graphic designer and has taken up watercolours which is inspiring and I am practicing my 3D modelling more,” said Ken.
He has been cutting out the “noise” by spending less time on Facebook and Instagram news feeds.
“This has also reduced the amount of negative information and criticism I’m constantly exposed to online. When I’m working, it’s better to be in a positive and inspired headspace. This has now exercised me even more to keep working.
“The imagery I’m creating in turn creates a sense of wellbeing as I’m doing what I love. In game design it is referred to as a sense of flow” said Ken, who teaches game art and design and animation for Limerick School of Art & Design.
Currently he is a stay at home parent with his two-year-old son, Luke. He also teaches from home and creates his artwork.
Ken minds Luke and Luke inspires Ken. That’s Luke as Spiderman. Ken took a photo of him in the costume and then began to work his magic.
“I have always been inspired by superheroes. Those on the frontline right now deserve so much respect for keeping us all safe. My favourite cartoons and 80s pop culture have led me down this path. I love watching the patterns in nature and society and how themes and archetypes have evolved from stories of Greek mythology to modern cinema and games. Kids and adults alike can now relate to Star Wars and marvel together.
“I think home entertainment right now is helping people to deviate from reality. If you look at the news and social media all day, reading scary stories and negative comments, you won’t do yourself any favours. Yes it is good to stay updated with the current situation but I feel it is important to stay mentally strong too.
“Being at home with my family and playing with our son also inspires my imagination to create as I watch him play.”
The superhero images he creates are something he does at Dublin Comic Con every year.
“One of my oldest friends Derek Cosgrave, from Lisnagry, is heavily involved since its inception in 2013. I meet and photograph them every summer and turn their images into movie poster style artwork. It’s sort of like superhero themed family portraits.”
Looking at his work you may think there is a darkness to it but not is all is as it seems,
“I create dark imagery and listen to death metal. Others think that is a dark thing. These practices are positive and meditative for me. I guess my work releases the inner demons. They become something else, something productive.
“Joseph Campbell, an American professor of literature who directly influenced George Lucas to create Star Wars, said that in myths of people fighting dragons are metaphors for people who are fighting their own demons. The underlying theme of most of my work whether it’s on purpose or not, is being positive, fighting our demons and not letting the dark thoughts get the better of you.”
On that theme, Ken submitted one of his pieces to the Green Ribbon mental health online art exhibition. See www. artofkencoleman.com