29 May 2022

Órlaith McInerney

Artist who promotes 'mindfulness' as a means of practising meditation in a stressful world

Órlaith McInerney

Born and raised in the small village of Cree in West Clare, I grew-up in a very supportive family.

Indeed, from a very young age my parents encouraged us to do whatever we wanted, or whatever would make us happy. In fact, when I attended St. Michael’s Community College in Kilmihil, Art was the only subject that I looked forward to, as I enjoyed the practical nature of it. I loved making things and working on my drawing skills but I never thought that it would be the industry where I would find myself years down the line.

Living in Limerick for the past four years, I moved here to study at Limerick School of Art and Design, from which I graduated recently in Visual Communications.

This appealed to me as a creative discipline with many elements to explore. For example, we studied photography, web design, packaging, typography, and advertising, just to name a few. Visual Communications is by no means a walk in the park but anyone that decides to study it, really loves it. It’s a wonderful course, and by the end of it, you come out with many different skills that provide so many options when it comes to choosing a career. Indeed, as part of my final year we had to develop a project of our own choice. It could have been anything we liked and it could be developed through any line of design. I decided to create ‘Take 5’, which is a campaign aimed at helping young people to de-stress, in the fast pace world around us.

This campaign asks people to take just five minutes out of each day to practice mindfulness via five simple steps.

For example; ‘Breathe in, breathe out’, ‘Take time out for a walk’, and ‘Let your mind wander’. These steps were driven using illustrations and imagery because I wanted the project to be interactive allowing people to colour in, and add to, as a mindfulness technique. If the campaign is properly rolled out, the aim is that these steps will be seen in busy public spaces, or work places, where people are most likely to be affected by stress. There was also a package that included different elements to help people on their way to mindfulness. ‘Take 5’ was aimed at the 18-30 year old demographic, as this is the most stressed group in our society, according to several studies. However, that does not mean that it is just limited to this age group alone. In fact, while I was researching the topic, I practiced the different ways that you can be mindful, and as a result, these exercises certainly helped me through the stress of my final year.

Anyone can become involved in mindfulness and crucially they don’t have to be into meditation to practise it.

It is all really about taking a few minutes out of each day for yourself to forget the problems and thoughts that plague your mind. It is also about living for the present, not the past, or the future. One simple technique that helps us be in the present is mindful breathing. Focus your mind on your breathing pattern. This is a way to enhance your capacity to clear the mind. Mindfulness is not limited to any particular type of person either. However, you have to be patient and you have to work with it in order to achieve the results you crave. It doesn’t happen overnight, either, but when everything comes together, it is wonderful, with many positive effects. I would encourage anyone who is interested in mindfulness to just practise a few times a week, (even if it’s just for five minutes). It doesn’t cost anything to do it, and it can be done at any time or any place. Everyone is different and everyone works with it differently.

My aim after college was to get a job, possibly in the world of advertising, as that was something that I had a keen interest in.

It wasn’t until September, however, that I was fortunate enough to get that job in web design, rather than advertising. Luckily, web design was the one element of Visual Communications that I had enjoyed the most in college, but somehow never thought of going into. However, it wasn’t until an opportunity came-up that I decided to take a shot at it and fortunately I was successful. It is something that I really enjoy now, and definitely want to learn more about, in future. That said, it is hard sometimes to decide what projects you want to get involved in. If you have an interest in a topic of any sort, or if you can see how you might develop a new project that usually makes things a lot easier.

I can’t say that any one person has influenced me over the years (happily there have been many influences during the course of my life).

From my parents and grandparents to the different art teachers I have had over the years, they all contributed to the decisions that have got me to where I am today. One person that I will mention as leading me into the world of Visual Communications, however, is my cousin Claire. She is a graphic designer and I was lucky enough to go on work experience with her to the printing studio she was working. It was from here that I was influenced to study design and Claire even passed me on some of her college notes, books, and advice, to help me. So, I certainly have her to thank for mentoring me and for getting me to the good place that I am in right now!

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