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15th Jun 2018

Lovin Dubliners: Aoife Dooley – ‘My Autism Diagnosis Helped Me Understand The World and Myself’

Éadaoin Fitzmaurice

Dublin is one of the best cities in the world, maybe we are a little biased but hey!

One thing that makes Dublin so unique and so full of character is the people that live here, work here and shape our city.

These are the change makers of Dublin and they come in all different shapes and sizes. This week our Dubliner comes in a particularly small size.

Aoife Dooley stands at 5ft and has size 3 feet. She may be tiny but boy, she’s mighty!

The Dublin illustrator, author and comedian has been making waves on social media with her Dublin Hun doodles that are feckin’ hilarious. They are super relatable, visually gorge and show off Aoife’s character, which makes them so unique.

So how did you get into illustration?

“I’ve always loved drawing so I knew that’s what I wanted to do, so I went to college in Coláiste Dhúlaigh and studied graphic design for three years and then I went on to study in DIT for three years.”

Aoife showed me some of her early work from Colaiste Dhúlaigh and I could see straight away how talented she is. The fascination with the characteristics and expressions from northside and southside Dublin is evident even from her very first projects.

Her character’s name is Nikita and she developed from this idea. Aoife explained that she found herself studying the people in her everyday life – Friends, family, her boyfriends family, locals.

Could you tell me about your first book?

Aoife’s first book is called How To Be Massive and it was released in 2016, just after she had finished in college. By that time, Aoife had grown quite a large following on her social media pages and she was spotted by a few publishers who approached her with an offer.

“It’s basically a book that will teach you how to be massive, in Nikita’s tone of voice.”

It’s the perfect coffee table book. You could open it at any time and on any pay and you’re guaranteed to have a giggle. It includes tips, tricks, games, quotes and of course, some wonderful illustrations of Nikita.

The book only took her three months to put together.

How do you stay driven?

Not only did she fly through the first book in three months, Aoife’s second book astonishingly took her only five weeks to complete.

“I rarely leave the house, I’m kind of like a hermit”

Aoife explained that work comes before everything and that she sometimes felt herself skipping meals as not to waste time while she was putting the book together.

“This is my thing, I put all my focus on it.”

You recently found out you’re autistic, could you tell me about that?

“I only found out last month and I’m 27. There’s probably a lot of others like me out there who don’t know they’re autistic because they’ve never been assessed.”

She explained that since her diagnosis she’s been able to understand herself and the world better.

“The world started to make sense and I started to make sense. People got to know me a bit more and understand me a bit better.”

Which book of yours do you prefer?

“I actually prefer the second one because I based a lot of it on myself and on things that annoy me. It’s all about public transport and things things people eat – Things that would send me in to an autistic meltdown.”

What do you use to illustrate?

Aoife uses Illustrator on the Adobe suite. She draws everything digitally and directly on to a screen.

She explained that once she imagines something, she can draw it how it should look. She doesn’t use any notebooks.

“I used to be really ashamed that I didn’t use a notebook because everyone seemed to have one. It’s actually an autistic trait that I can see it and then draw it directly on the screen.”

Aoife is such a sound girl with amazing humour and crazy talent.

I can’t wait to see what else she has planned for the future.

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