Profile on Scottish artist Julian McLaughlan

Ayrshire artist Julian McLaughlan is a great young art talent making a name for himself in the Scottish art world for his depictions of his experiences and emotions in a modernist painting style.

His first few showcases have been sell out events and his works are now selling throughout Europe and making their way to the US. As a bright new talent our reporter Jamie McGeechan caught up with Julian McLaughlan to find out what inspires Julian’s work.

Can you tell me a wee bit about yourself and how you got into painting?

Hello my name is Julian McLaughlan, I’m primarily an abstract artist and I come from Kilwinning, Ayrshire in Scotland. I’ve had a passion for art and expression all my life. I found I had a talent and flair for art while I was at school in Ayrshire and always felt it was my strongest subject. It was during high school that my talent was getting known due to my portraiture work and it all really started from there. After school my first job was as an industrial spray painter, but I never gave up on my art and would focus on my creativity at every opportunity. I started to get a lot of requests for canvas portraits and found that people were really keen on portraits of their favorite musicians and family members but I found myself needing a new challenge artistically. The answer to that was abstract art! Picasso and Jackson Pollock play a certain influence in some of my works although I’d never studied them at school.

With pieces like ‘Frustration’ and ‘Anxiety’ you explore the human condition and health issues in your work. Do you see art as a therapeutic process / and are you inspired by your own experiences? 

I see abstract as the ultimate freedom within the artistic world ! For me yes it’s therapeutic as like many people I suffer with anxiety. When I started experiencing anxiety I wasn’t even sure what was going on with me I just knew something wasn’t right and I didn’t feel well but art has really helped me to process and understand myself better. When I started to explore my anxiety through art I was struck by just how much it seemed to resonate with other people. To have feedback from people that one of my pieces has moved them it really means the world to me. Due to my own experiences with mental health I never really run out of material. I made a deal with myself one day to never preplan my work, just to let it flow on the canvas and I have been doing that ever since, it’s pure freedom.

An incredible short film by the wonderful Ayrshire based film maker Brendan Behan from All In Film exploring Julian and his work.

Do you think art can help other people to recognise and understand that they are not alone and that art can actually help people to understand themselves a wee bit better?

From my experience abstract art has helped me profoundly – it channels my bad thoughts , anger, sadness and my happiness into something potentially beautiful. That other people can relate to it is just incredible and I really do think art can help people profoundly.

Can you describe what it was like showcasing your work publicly for the first time and what that meant to you, what it means to you going forward?

One day I received an email from a company in Glasgow called ‘Spaces’, telling me how much they loved my anxiety painting and asking if I would be interested in showing my art. I was stunned that someone out there wanted to give me an opportunity to exhibit my work. I think that’s generally the case for all artists initially, the world recognizing what you do, it’s an incredulous feeling. That very first showcase in Glasgow was a real exhibition of my work exploring mental health and wellbeing and when 100 people turned up to see my work it was as you can imagine almost overwhelming but such a great experience for me. I feel like I put my life on canvas so to have people come to share and celebrate that, it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. My first ever show was a sell out ! I am so thankful to Spaces in Glasgow and the amazing opportunity they gave me, I am forever in there debt. 

How do you feel society deals with people who are going through mental health issues and in Scotland in particular do you feel society is supportive or can we do more?

It seems in the last year or so society has became more aware of mental health and more willing to embrace and engage with it and understanding the effects it has on people. I think it’s a conversation we need to develop and I think we can all do our bit by showing that we are there for each other, not only with our friends and family but as a society as a whole. Knowing the someone cares, it’s powerful. I hope in some small way my artwork can help to keep the conversation going and to help people understand that they are not alone in their emotions and struggles. We’re all just trying to make our way through life and certainly art continues to be such a rewarding medium for me. I’m grateful to everyone who shows an interest in what I do.

Finally what are your future plans and what are your aspirations for the future? What are your dreams for your art?

I don’t know what the future holds for me but I’m certainly going to continue to express myself and tell my story through painting. My dream is for my paintings to be seen all over the world and for my next showcase to be in New York City.

Follow Julian’s art and journey at