A Q&A with Rochdale Riverside muralist, Doodlher

Let’s throw it way back – do you remember what the first thing you ever painted was?

Imagine a toddler with a big sheet of blank paper, three pots of colour, and a massive paintbrush. Whatever came out of that scenario is my first painting. Who knows whether it’s still around, I’d have to ask my parents!

I’ve always been into drawing and I can’t imagine life without it. Although I do paint, the majority of what I create is done in black pen. I love playing with detail and clean outlines. The outlines is an aspect of my style that manifests in all of my work – even in my murals. They always have black outlines.


What inspired you to get into mural design?

I have created murals, but I don’t tie myself exclusively to that category, or any category for that matter. I like making art, and I’m open to creating it in lots of different ways. So even though a mural might be seen as being different to a framed drawing on a wall, my approach to making those two things is exactly the same. If I create a drawing that measures 10cm square, the creativity used to imagine and then create that drawing is channelled from exactly the same place as a 40-metre mural.

So it wasn’t really inspiration that made me branch out into murals. It was more a case of circumstance. I was asked if I’d like to do one, and I said yes.

My first mural – The Duke of Wellington window at the bottom of Drake Street – was a pretty enlightening experience. Prior to that, I’d always assumed that my drawing style and ability was best suited to small scale, paper formats. Quite a silly thing to assume really since I’d never actually tried scaling something up! I guess habit had taken over. I’m glad I got over that hurdle. It’s fun drifting between small projects and big projects. Nowadays, the only thing that I have to consider differently in my design approach is whether or not I need to bring a ladder.


What other projects have you worked on – in Rochdale or further afield?

I’ve got three decades of drawing under my belt, but I’ve only been sharing my work and creating public art installations for the past two years! So as of yet I’m exclusive to Rochdale. The outside world hasn’t knocked on my door yet. Let’s see what happens. Rochdale will always have a special place in my heart though. We’re artistically bonded for life!

I currently have four art installations in Rochdale town centre. All within a stone’s throw away from each other. The Duke of Wellington window at the bottom of Drake Street; the Ship in a Bottle inside Bombay Brew; If Dinosaurs Had Hair on Greg Couzens Hair Studio shopfront; and of course Rochdale Riverside.


Do you have a favourite mural that you’ve painted – one that always stands out to you?

Haha, that’s like asking do you have a favourite child. I value them all equally. Even beyond my murals, all my art – big or small – was created as a result of experiences, feelings and sights that were around at the time. With so many different influential variables being thrown around, it would be impossible for me to compare them, never mind choose a favourite. I suppose I get more excited about what I’m creating next.


Can you talk us through your design for the Rochdale Riverside mural?

You mean it actually exists? It wasn’t a dream?! Honestly what a rollercoaster it’s been this year. The Rochdale Riverside project first came to my attention in October 2019 and I began the design work in November. Everything was planned out and ready to be scaled up on the walls by February, and by the first week in March I was on site. It was like a military operation, though, as I had four weeks to get it finished before the cinema opened on April 2nd. If only we knew what was around the corner…

I’ve written a blog about my Rochdale Riverside mural which you can read here. It’s the biggest piece I’ve ever created. I tried to measure it but since it covers multiple floors it was pretty difficult. It’s definitely more than 35-metres. The design is a mash-up of all the best bits of the Rochdale Riverside leisure zone. It starts at the bottom of the escalators on the ground floor and takes you on a journey upstairs to the entrances of Puttstars and Reel Cinema. There’s a lot to feast your eyes on, and a few ‘easter eggs’ in there too. No spoilers from me, though. You’ll have to discover those for yourself when you visit.


Where can people find out more about you and your work?

My website is the place to explore to see my existing library of art for sale, stories, and to learn more about what I do.

The future is where it’s at though, right? Give me a follow on Twitter and Instagram to be the first in line to see my latest creations and whispers about up-and-coming projects.