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Gem Farrell

Creative Degree Graduate

A photograph of Gem Farrell

“I’m making a difference by inspiring young artists”

What brought you to UCOL?

I chose to study at UCOL in Palmerston North because the creative courses are so well regarded, plus the lecturers are amazing. Not only was I taught how to be a better artist, but my lecturers also prepared me for the realities of the industry. I had started tattooing a couple of years before I came to UCOL, and I wanted to become a better artist so my tattooing would be better. I did a spray-painting assignment and completely fell in love with it, so that’s how I came to work in both tattooing and spray-painting. I love doing anything with spray paint, like stencil art and murals.


People can see murals that you’ve done for the City Council all around Palmerston North.  What is your motivation behind these murals?

I like making art that makes other people happy, so a lot of my subject matter is bright and colourful. I like to paint things from nature that brighten up the city. You think about people walking to work, and they see this beautiful mural and it can put a smile on their face. It’s really cool when you’re out painting, and people stop to talk to you. Most people have a really positive response.

What other work have you been doing in the community?

I’ve been doing a lot of work with kids from the Youth Space. I ran a stencil art programme last summer. We ran the programme at UCOL, so it was quite cool to be able to show the students the facilities. They really loved it. They were really surprised by what they could create after they were shown a few tools and techniques. Lately, we’ve been painting a mural on the front of the Youth Space building. There has been a couple of people in that group who have really fallen in love with art and want to get more experience.

You’ve set up In the Shade Art Studio in the city. That must keep you busy. 

Yeah. I was in there by myself, and then my friend Mikal Carter, who I paint with, moved in and we did it up and made it beautiful. Now we’re both tattooing from there and it’s where we run our creative stuff from.

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