Characters of Cork: Ethan is making his mark on Cork art scene

This week's Character of Cork Ethan Desmond talks about his talent and making his dreams a reality.
Characters of Cork: Ethan is making his mark on Cork art scene

Ethan Desmond, an illustrator and interior architect from Cork city and creator of From the sketch...Up! (FTSU).

Ethan Desmond, an illustrator and interior architect from Cork city, who has always been the ‘artsy’ type, shares his rise to success as a creative.

Growing up, Ethan knew he wanted to be a creator and dreamed of being an illustrator and designer.

As the typical ‘head in the clouds' type, Ethan said that while he chose to study interior architecture at CIT, now MTU, he continued to create his own personal illustrations in a refill pad as a way to express himself.

One day a friend of his saw some of his personal sketches and encouraged him to keep it up and put his creations out there.

“Anyone creative knows the dream of such a thing coming true, we push it to the back of our minds and let it go, a pipe dream if you will, but it persisted and grew from there really.

“I'm forever thankful to her because if not for the push, and eventual help in setting up From the sketch...Up! (FTSU). I would never have had the confidence to put my work out there.” After setting up an Instagram account and gaining traction by sketching Irish influencers, he was booked for live events and then commercial work and has grown ever since.

While Ethan says the whole journey so far has been an eclectic mix of achievements and joy, one of his proudest achievements to date was his involvement in what we all know as Sketch, the Imperial Hotel’s latest project.

“What started as an Instagram DM has become one of my favourite projects, and I'm proud to be a member of the Imperial family.” He said what was originally to be a few fashion illustrations for the walls of the space, now known as Sketch, turned into the creation of a mascot ‘soul’ of the hotel in Grace, the main character seen in all artworks so far.

One of Ethan Desmond's illustrations for the Imperial Hotel's latest project, Sketch.
One of Ethan Desmond's illustrations for the Imperial Hotel's latest project, Sketch.

“It's been a dream come true working on something so long-term and ever-evolving. My work is on the exterior of Sketch, featuring many of Cork's well-known buildings, and Grace herself sat over the door as a welcome.

“Now she is on all the walls, menus, coasters, takeaway cups, marketing material and so many other exciting works are yet to come. Walking in feels like a toss between coming home and also walking into my own imagination, it's surreal, to say the least, and I'm forever thankful to Jazz, Roisin, Bastien and the team for believing in me.” 

Ethan says he is “very proud” to be from Cork and more specifically, a creator from Cork.

“I think we have such a unique style and way about us and getting to play my small part in that is both fun and rewarding.” Ethan says he is “immensely proud” of how far he has come, highlighting another pinch-me moment as the time Donatella Versace saw his work, and that going forward he is focusing on expanding the works created with the Imperial Hotel and wants to work on more editorial and packaging also.

“From being someone so introverted about themselves and their passion to being what I am now, a proud, openly out artist and designer, it's not something I could have ever envisioned myself being able to do.”

Ethan says that one of the most important things he has learned on his journey so far is that hiding helps no one.

“We think that by hiding ourselves away, we're protected and while that is valid, for many of us it's impossible. I was never going to fit in, and in trying to I believe I stood out more.

“It wasn't organic and people can sense that. Now I own who I am, my defences are actually higher because nothing someone can say about me, as a person/artist/member of the LGBTQIA+ community, can phase me.” 

Sharing his advice to fellow creatives, he said that a dream needs to be defined and explored before jumping in.

He advised people to “absorb as much of the world that they can, learn from as many avenues as they can explore” and reminded people that setbacks are lessons, as are victories.

“Never stop until you can breathe and say ‘I'm there’. It's not easy, but the payoff of living your own dream is unmatched in this world, I believe.”

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