Audrey Cantillon, the artist and business owner, posted her first picture to Instagram on February 14, 2018, and so began an enterprise that would become ‘Cantillona Design’. For anyone familiar with Kinsale, you might have seen or photographed yourself against the backdrop of her Kinsale mural.
“I am a visual artist,” Audrey says. “I have two very different styles of work – one is very detailed graphic style illustrations done with a fine nibbed pen. The other style is portraiture – faces and animals done with pencil.”
Originally from Shannon in Clare, Audrey now lives and works in Kinsale with her husband, Dom, her three children Sam, Izzy and Ted. And of course, Buddy their Cockerpoo.
“Three things led me to were I am today.” Audrey says. “Art was my favourite subject in school, but I never really drew until I was in my 30s and it was my eldest, Sam, who was my inspiration. Sketching and colouring with him reawakened my love of drawing.”
Secondly, with her friends, Natalia and Sibeal, they started a drawing club. “We used to get together and chat and draw and from their suggestions my own drawing became something changed. Our club was short-lived, but it had a profound effect on me.”
“Two years ago,” Audrey says. “I was listening to an artist being interviewed and she said that if you were creating something – you should share it. So, I did, and I was shocked, surprised and delighted with the reaction when I first posted my work on Instagram.”
Her journey to Kinsale has taken Audrey to many places. She completed a BA in Applied Languages in DCU in Dublin, the final year of which was spent in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Her career took her around Europe working in the corporate world.
“When I was young, I remember listening to Mary Robinson being interviewed and thinking that I wanted to be President of Ireland! That changed my ambitions and what I thought I could achieve.”
A career in London in private banking followed and there she met her husband, Dom. “We got married and when Sam was born, we moved back to Kinsale. We’ve been here for nearly 13 years and I consider myself beyond lucky to live in such a gorgeous place filled with so many lovely and interesting people.”
In June 2018, Audrey was made redundant from the global events company she was working with.
“By then, I was getting a bit brave with my art,” she says. “Iapplied to Kinsale Art’s Weekend and was accepted for the artists trail around the town. Four of my pieces were hung in Poets Corner cafe. They sold! That was a huge moment, I felt I had laid bare my soul!”
From there, Audrey started designing cotton t-shirts with her now, very famous, Kinsale design.
“I set up at the local farmers market one Wednesday to see if they would sell. And they did!”
“Because I had been made redundant, the department of social welfare had encouraged me to upskill, so I did a Digital Marketing Course and found out about the supports there are for people like me who wanted to start their own business.”
They put Audrey on a Start Your Business Course where her teacher encouraged her to reach out to the Local Enterprise Office. Audrey booked a free advice clinic session in Kinsale and has had a mentor since then.
“My mentor in the LEO, Jackie Gowran, told me to trust my gut, and to follow my instincts – I find I do that more and more.”
Her t-shirts are now stocked in Granny’s Bottom Drawer and Chaac in Kinsale. My artwork is available from Old Quay Gallery Kinsale or on her self-built website www.cantillonadesign.com.
Since November 2019, Audrey’s Cork design has been hanging on the gable end of Earth Cafe in Cork city where Grand Parade meets South Mall but her greatest pride so far is her Kinsale mural.
“When I completed the Kinsale design,” Audrey says, “I thought it would look amazing on a wall in Kinsale. It was though the amazing support of Kinsale Arts Weekend who approved it as an art installation for arts weekend and even contributed towards the cost of printing. I approached Fishy Fishy and Kinsale Gin to see if they would sponsor it and they got right behind it. Rhino Print in Kinsale printed my design on a PVC Banner. I love seeing people posting pics beside it on Instagram.”
In looking back on how it has all come together so far, Audrey is reflective about her new business and how it came together.
“It’s ok to not know what you want to do yet. I’m coming to all of this in my 40s. There is time to figure it out. I am very lucky that I have an amazing supportive husband and teamwork at home is very important.”
Her ambition is to see her work hanging in more towns, in airports, at festivals and in clubs and bars. Her last tips for success?
“I try to walk our dog as often as I can. I walk with my girlfriends and they are like my therapy and I walk with my own thoughts and sometimes that’s my best thinking time.”