Sunday 18 November 2018

'I smuggled my dogs into the Gresham Hotel in a €1,000 Louis Vuitton bag' - Irish artist Kevin Sharkey

Kevin Sharkey
Kevin Sharkey Business Desk Business Desk

Artist Kevin Sharkey was born in Dublin in 1961 and brought up in Killybegs, Co Donegal.

His art career began at the age of 12 when he experimented with oils on canvas and bright colours, inspired by the Donegal landscape and scenery. His works have been exhibited in Dublin and internationally, including in London, Ibiza, Amsterdam and New York.

One of his best known works is 'Moolah' - a life-sized cow covered in euro banknotes which is a symbol of Ireland's Celtic Tiger years. His current exhibition, Lazarus, is at the Basement Gallery, 28 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2 until the end of this month.

He will have a music single - entitled The Holy Show - coming out on iTunes on December 1. To see his paintings, visit

What's the most important lesson about money your career as an artist has taught you?

That your earnings may be more linked to the economic cycle than you would like. An artist always needs to paint, but people can't always buy. Art is a luxury to most people and is the first thing that goes on the back-burner in a crash or downturn.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

Years ago, I bought a Louis Vuitton bag for €1,000 in Brown Thomas. It came in very handy when I lived at the Gresham Hotel for six months while creating large modern paintings for the hotel lobby, bar and suites. Every night, I smuggled my wee dogs into my room in that bag - trying to look casual as I passed the lovely receptionist.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

Japan - I remember it cost $400 for two whiskies and cokes in a very popular private after-hours drinking club.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Not realising the true value of my art at the beginning. I grew up in Donegal, where there were no art galleries and very few artists, so when one of my paintings sold for almost €30,000, I was shocked and delighted. Serious people who buy art are not looking for a bargain - they want to be able to impress their friends with the shocking price they paid.

What was your best financial killing?

Buying my four dogs was the best investment I ever made. I wouldn't sell them for millions.

Do you play the Lotto?

No, being an artist is a big-enough gamble.

If you won the Euromillions, what would you do with the money?

I'd find every person who has ever been kind to me and sort them out financially.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

No, never. Three Hail Marys and an Our Father - that's all the insurance I need.

iTunes or Spotify?


What was the last thing you bought online?

I tried to buy a lovely shirt online a year ago, which looked like it had paint dripping over the shoulders. It was stunning and only cost $10.99 - though the postage and packaging came to $40, but it never arrived in the end.

Would you buy property now.

No, I can't afford to.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

I wanted to open a flower shop in Dublin. A friend of mine pointed out the number of plants and flowers I would have to sell, and the hours it would take, to earn the same money I'd make by just selling one painting.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

Having been homeless and totally skint some time back, I learned that you can do without anything - apart from love.

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