Mother Pop is a cartoon land for grown-ups. It's happiness and naughtiness, with a healthy serving of sideboob
Mother Pop is the alter ego of Irish artist Cavanagh Foyle, a former aviation lawyer who creates eye-catching, large scale, provocative pop art paintings, often infused with typography and her signature “squiggs.”
What inspired you to become an aviation lawyer?
A random piece of history about my hometown is that the first-ever transatlantic flight crash landed just a stone's throw from where my family home now stands. The pilots (John Alcock and Arthur Brown) stayed with my grandparents after their crash, so seeing the pictures and hearing the stories of aviation history that was made on my doorstep was always something I loved. Add watching way too much Ally McBeal growing up, it just seemed like a fun idea to combine law and aviation and become an aviation lawyer!
What inspired the transition from aviation law to a career in art?
Art has always been my true passion and something that I kept exploring on my own all through my law jobs. I realized quite quickly that life as a lawyer wasn’t as fun as the TV shows, but in Ireland the idea of being a pop artist was just not realistic. However, I decided for myself that it was going to become a viable career and I was going to make it happen. So about two years ago, I quit my job and developed my pop artist alter ego: Mother Pop!
Where did the name Mother Pop come from?
Initially, I was just trying to find a good Instagram name that wasn’t my own name. I wanted it to represent the fact that I was a female pop artist ... and Mother Pop came to mind, and the tagline “The Queen Mother of Pop” just stuck!
How would you describe your art?
Mother Pop is pure pop art with a very cheeky provocative twist! It’s cartoon land for grown-ups. It’s primary color overload. It’s happiness and naughtiness. I am obsessed with pop culture, pop nostalgia and everything POP! And that’s what shows up in my art, with a healthy serving of sideboob and underbutt.
What’s the story behind your signature “squiggs?”
I wanted to have something that was instantly recognizable as my art, but I didn't want to pigeonhole myself into only creating a certain type of art, like just bodies or just faces. Then I remembered whenever my dad was on the landline phone when I was growing up he would draw squiggles on pieces of paper as he talked, the same ones over and over again, and I used to always copy him. So, it was an aha moment like that. I decided that was going to be my signature style and call them “squiggs.” I put them everywhere now—thanks Dad!
Is there an overarching message or feeling behind your artworks?
Not so much a message but definitely a feeling. I want people to get the same feeling I get when I see art I really love, which is that I just want to eat it up! Complete visual satisfaction. For me when I look at art, I don't want to interpret it or analyze it. I just want to adore it, so I hope when people see my art, I can feed their big hungry eyes
What tools do you use to create your work?
I create two types of art: big canvas pieces and framed digital pieces. The tools and processes for both are quite different. For canvas pieces, I use lots of spray paint. I print out images very big and cut them up and wheat-paste them onto the canvas and then go in with acrylics and markers. It is quite a methodical process. For digital pieces, I allow myself a bit more room to experiment because I can modify and change things easier. I do it all with my trusty iPad and Apple pen. A lot of people think I use Photoshop for my digital pieces, but embarrassingly, I actually don’t even know how to use Photoshop! I just use a basic drawing app and my digital pen and experiment with ideas and photos I have saved from my Notes app.
What inspires your art?
Instagram is a big source of inspiration for my work. I love all the accounts that show old pop nostalgia. I save all the images that give me a fuzzy feeling or appeal to my imagination. It could be a 1992 cover of Vogue or a Rottweiler wearing a diamond necklace. Then I just think about how I can bring them into my work in a new and mind-tickling way. Travel inspires so much, too. If I don’t travel every so often, I find I get into creative slumps. I need to experience new places to spark new ideas.
Who are your favorite artists?
Oh God, so many. KAWS, Jeff Koons, Bag & Bones, Nina Chanel Abney, Michael Craig-Martin, Ashley Longshore, Alec Monopoly, but also my mum! Ever since I can remember, she has done this little doodle of a chicken, a simple primitive type chicken, very Picasso vibes. I got it framed, and if someone offered to trade me a Banksy for it, I wouldn’t give it up!
Are there any crossovers between your work in aviation law and art?
There actually is. I adore the visual of an aircraft, especially the old vintage silver ones, private jets and abandoned planes. So one of my next series is going to be squigged-up planes! Also, one of my first art pieces I made was of an airplane, which the aviation company I used to work for now has.
What’s been your biggest learning curve since pursuing a career in art?
That you need to be persistent in getting your art in front of eyes and not just focus on galleries to show your art. You need to make that dolla yourself and talk to people about art, engage with the audience you have, get them excited! I have learned if I sell one piece to someone, there is a big chance they come back for a second and a third. So work hard to get that first-time collector and then nurture that artist-collector relationship!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue art?
Do it! But have a plan. I kept working while plotting my art move. Save your money so you can afford to give yourself the time you need to create a substantial body of work and get some momentum going. If it goes tits up, you can always just go back to work. At least you will have pursued something that means something to you. Don’t expect miracles straight away. Expect to fail a few times; it will eventually lead to growth. Life is too short not to do what you want. Be selfish with your own dreams.
What’s your favorite piece you have produced?
Quite a simple one: a black and white, spray paint and acrylic canvas piece that says “I’m having an existential crisis.” It’s glossy and delicious and has all my favorite squiggs incorporated in it.
What’s the most surreal thing that’s happened to you since pursuing Mother Pop?
Explaining to my parents that I'm leaving my career as a lawyer to draw boobs and butts!
Follow Mother Pop here and on Instagram.