February 23, 2024

Mid Designer

Breakaway from the pack

LOOM, the ‘loud and proud’ Hebridean graphic design studio

Just right after his family’s six-yr “islandversary”, Pearse O’Halloran displays on his journey from a Glasgow-dependent freelancer to a “loud and proud” islander.

There’s no doubt that depopulation is just one of the most significant problems the Western Isles are facing today. But individuals leaving is not the total tale – and some variations can make the islands seem like a ghost town rather than the vibrant group it is. In this post, and other individuals, we shine a mild on some of the many unique folks who are selecting to build a existence in the Outer Hebrides.

For graphic designer Pearse O’Halloran, occupational therapist Laura O’Halloran, and their two daughters, lifetime on a Scottish island experienced generally been a “pipe dream”.

“Laura had visited the islands and cherished them,” Mr O’Halloran says. And, with their oldest daughter just about to arrive at college age, news about them becoming “the greatest places to increase kids” was sounding additional appropriate than ever.

A man, a woman, and their two children pose smiling for a family photo.
Pearse and Laura O’Halloran and their two daughters. Image equipped by: Pearse O’Halloran

Nevertheless, even though, they had been positive it was “never going to happen”. Following all, it appeared a earth absent from their active daily life in the suburbs of Glasgow.

So, when she outlined there was a job opening for a hand therapist, his reaction was: “Great – what aspect of the hospital?”

“And she explained, ‘no, it is actually in the Western Isles.’ Like the true Western Isles – not the title of a setting up in Glasgow!”

‘Love at first sight’

Her occupation interview in November was his 1st time location foot in the Outer Hebrides.

“It was like at very first sight. I requested her about two or three situations to stop the auto,” he claims.

The family before long settled in in Stornoway. “I just believed it was a really awesome dimension,” claims Mr O’Halloran.

“I imagine that a single of my reservations is that I appreciate rural everyday living, I like tranquil dwelling – but I want to be in a position to go and see a movie in the cinema.”

A window view of Stornoway harbour.
For Pearse O’Halloran, lifestyle in the Hebrides was “love at initially sight.” Picture: Pearse O’Halloran

The independent line-up at arts centre An Lanntair implies that Stornoway has a good outlet for lifestyle, he says.

They moved up in February 2017, and celebrated their six-year “islandversary” this month. But LOOM itself would occur later.

The good thing is, Mr O’Halloran had been capable to keep his consumers as a freelance graphic designer following the move.

‘Hiding that I was up on an island’

“I just thought that I would be up below and have my shoppers in Glasgow. I did not seriously believe that their would be any perform for me up right here.”

For the duration of these very first decades, he claims he was “sort of hiding the reality that I was up on an island,” apprehensive that his remote locale would be a “turn-off” for mainland clients.

Though he started off to get more compact positions from island-centered enterprises, it was not until eventually a agreement from An Lanntair that he commenced to think significantly about concentrating his function on the islands.

The manufacturer refresh for the cultural centre was “a significant issue to acquire on”.

“It was excellent, and out of the blue I was hunting at my portfolio, and realising it was filling up with Hebridean companies.”

Island site ‘should actually be an advantage’

One of his favourite early patterns is a t-shirt he designed for Hebrides swimmers.

“I’d see people wearing them about city. I even met a lady who was up from Manchester on a study placement, and she claimed ‘I’ve only been swimming when but I had to buy the t-shirt for the reason that it was the only amazing a single!’.”

“That was a large compliment.”

A notebook with a minimalistic, geometric design of the Lewis Chessmen.
LOOM’s signature layouts function “reimaginings” of familiar photographs like the Lewis Chessmen. Graphic: Pearse O’Halloran

Impressed by his success and the prospects he saw in island structure, he determined to commence LOOM, with Laura using on the role of controlling director.

The idea was to be “loud and proud about the simple fact that we’re carrying out graphic style and design in a extremely one of a kind location”.

“That should truly be an benefit.”

The company formally introduced in April 2019. “So that is an additional anniversary coming up.”

‘It kind of started out to snowball’

LOOM’s models place a clean contemporary spin on daily lifestyle in the Hebrides, showcasing anything from the iconic Lewis Chessmen to the islands’ brutalist bus stops.

The idea, he claims, was to “reinvent the cliches” of the Western Isles using a “contemporary” structure aesthetic.

These styles bought very well in LOOM’s personal shop, but before long commissions from other businesses started out finding up as phrase spread.

T-shirts with clean, minimalistic designs on a rack.
T-shirts built by LOOM. Photograph supplied by: Pearse O’Halloran.

“It variety of began to snowball,” he says. “Harris Tweed received in touch with me.”

At very first, he was only executing small work for Harris Tweed Hebrides, who provide the famed fabric to manner residences and luxurious makes all above the planet.

But final yr, he took on their summer season advertising campaign.

“That’s good,” he claims. He says usually, they would in all probability go to an advertisement agency in Glasgow.

“They trust us to get on that scale of do the job – and our creative imagination, as very well.”

LOOM’s results intended that past 12 months they were able to transfer into the enterprise into its own building in Stornoway.

Mr O’Halloran has also been in a position to hire two new group users – and it appears to be like LOOM will only proceed to develop.

“We’re using on so a lot customer work proper now that we’re scaling again the shop,” he claims.

‘A improved lifetime for the family’

It is a lengthy way to arrive from the commencing of Mr O’Halloran’s journey from the mainland, when he “wasn’t considering about it phrases of acquiring [his] profession.”

“My major target was a improved lifetime for the relatives.”

And, absolutely sure more than enough, he claims relocating to the Hebrides has been a “huge boost” for their wellbeing.

For his daughters, “this is their household now”.

A colourful print of the Gaelic alphabet.
LOOM’s design for a Gaelic alphabet. Picture equipped by: Pearse O’Halloran.

“They’re each fluent in Gaelic,” he states, and commit time discovering on their bikes by on their own – a little something he states he would have never ever felt cozy with in Glasgow.

And, as it turns out, it is been a earn on both of those fronts.

“The greatest shock for me has been how my small business has been boosted by coming up listed here,” he states.

“It’s a achievements tale.”

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