When I was six years old, my family and I moved, from Boston (US) to Barcelona (Spain). In Spain people called me Airin - the Spanish phonetically pronunciation of Irene. As I was learning to read and write, that is how I signed my own drawings. It became my nickname and today that is still how I sign my work.
For me drawing was a universal language that helped me communicate with family members spread out all over the European continent. Ever since, drawing has been the safest way for me to express myself.
Throughout my childhood and school going years we kept traveling and I completed my bachelor’s degree in Fine Art Photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Subsequently, I completed my first MFA degree in fine art at the same institution, specializing in cyanotypes, an old photographic printing process. My graduation work was nominated for The Netherlands’ prestigious illustration award, the Fiep Westendorp Stimuleringsprijs.
I interned at the national newspaper De Volkskrant, as a photographer, photo editor and art director, producing imagery of all kinds. During this internship I discovered my passion for working with people. I started giving workshops to children about cyanotypes at the museum for contemporary art in Amsterdam (Stedelijk Museum) and looking into possibilities to further develop and explore my skills as an educator.
From that moment on I chose to develop myself in both areas: as an art-educator and as an artist. I enrolled in the online MFA Illustration program at the Academy of Art University to strengthen my illustration skills and I went to Macau (China) for three months. In Macau I worked as a volunteer teacher at The School of The Nations, an international primary and high school . I taught the following subjects to children ranging from age 4 to 18 years old: History of Photography, Photography as a Visual Language, and Photography as a Medium of Expression.
When I decided to continue my MFA in Illustration in San Francisco on campus, I declined a serious job offer at The School of The Nations. Saying goodbye to Macau and The School of the Nations was not easy, but I was following my heart. I knew that where one door closes another one opens. After a great first semester as a student at The Academy of Art University, I started teaching at the Photography department of the AAU. For about two years I taught three different photography classes and worked as a part-time professor while studying illustration.
A year ago, I stopped working as a professor at the AAU. I decided to focus 100% on developing as a professional artist. With this decision, I fully committed to a career in the arts and it showed in my work. Combining photography, as a teacher, and drawing, as a student, has resulted in the continuing development of my cyanotype technique and finding my own unique illustration style.
I live in Berkeley now and I specialize in creating playful and engaging illustrations for children’s books. My work is a mix of traditional and digital media with contemporary color palettes and I am passionate about story telling.
I also specialize in playful and engaging murals for residential and commercial interior spaces. Every client that I work with is unique. Together we collaborate on custom concepts. I paint original works of art in homes and office spaces bringing the clients idea idea to life.
Please contact me if you are interested or if you have any questions. I would love to work with you.
firstname.lastname@example.org // Instagram: @airinocallaghan