Dublin Game Changers – Aoife Dooley

October 19, 2016 – Book launches, Interesting people interviews, Literature

Words by Gretel Downey

Photo by Sinead Kelly


The best part of doing this series is getting to meet some deadly people that you usually just hear rumours of. I’ve known of Aoife Dooley for a few years now from her work at exhibitions, and even her final year project at DIT, but I’ve not had the chance to meet her, until now that is!


Recently she’s blown up with her illustrations inspired by her north side Dublin heritage going viral as well as her beloved character, Your One Nikita. All this has lead to her creating her own book, How To Be Massive, which has had me in stitches since it came out on October 14th. So where did this all come from?

It would be based heavily around the northside and like my boyfriends family and people I know and some stuff that I would of done.

Can you teach me the sneaking the naggin in in your hun bun trick then? The bouncers keep finding mine taped to my thigh!

On a more serious note though Aoife has spent 6 years of her life in college, 3 years at Colaiste Dhulaigh studying graphic design before being granted advanced entry to DIT for visual communications. While in college she moved from water colours and drawings to digital illustrations with her trademark northside inspiration showing early.

I had that tone of voice from really early on, it made it more interesting to me that way. I wasn’t just drawing a picture of a flower, I was drawing a picture of a flower saying ‘Ya Bollox’.


And while Aoife used to do the typical Gen Y thing of wearing her headphones everywhere, because heaven forbid we run the risk of having to interact with others, she’s now taken to a little bit of earwigging on the bus just to keep up with all the characters.

I’ve earwigged on the bus, like if someone says something funny, I think ‘oh I could use that’ so I actually got into a bit of writing for that too which is funny because I wouldn’t consider myself a writer but that’s lead to this book and it’s opened a few other doors too.

The book she’s referring to is the soon to be released How To Be Massive, an illustrative look at her alter-ego Nikita’s experiences growing up in Coolock. Inspired by her own friends and family, it’s sure to have us all in stitches with even the great Roddy Doyle praising it. But that’s not the only door that has been opened for Aoife as she now also dabbles in a spot of acting.

I had the idea for Gogglepox and I thought it would go well so I went to Enya Martin, who runs the page Giz Us A Laugh, and asked if she’d be up to doing it. We have a good working relationship now so it’s cool to be on the same level as someone who’s as into an idea as you are.

And we the public are totally into it too! However, Aoife still does get given grief by some who find her drawings of northsiders offensive even though, ironically enough, they tend to be middle class southsiders.

Then you get people who aren’t from that background at all who think you’re putting people down when actually I wouldn’t be. I’m from this area, I’ve grown up here, this is how I was. It’s actually funny cause it’s usually middle class people and they assume, ironically enough, that I’m not working class cause of how I dress. Which is unfortunate but I haven’t let it stop me cause if you let people like that get into your head, when they don’t know what they’re talking about, I don’t think you’re doing what you really want to do. You shouldn’t let people like that stop you.

Now that’s just an overview of Aoife and her achievements but like I said, I love meeting deadly people and Aoife definitely fits that bill. She’s open and honest and really stands by her principles making sure that what she posts truly represents her and her views on life.

I try to steal away from certain points on my page, like I definitely wouldn’t be putting women down. There are certain pages where you would see that and there are some that have popped up from what I’ve done. But the funny thing about it is that they’ll get so many likes but they’re kinda disgusting and outspoken. To me they’re putting a certain class down and women in general. Like they’re  saying that they’re going out and riding people every weekend but giving out that perception, especially to young girls, isn’t what I want to be doing. I know if I did my page would get double the likes but that’s not what I’m about.

Not only does she not like posting about certain topics, she hates seeing people spreading hate on her pages, especially hating the term junkies.

If I see anyone saying anything [negative] about ‘junkies’ or homeless people I block them straight away, that’s kind of a golden rule for me. Then I’d have people of the page saying ‘does this remind you of …’ and I don’t like that kind of element of bullying. I’m totally against that. I’d see girls having a go on the page and I’d just write back in character being funny and them comments will stop cause they know themselves that it’s out of order.

Although everything is going wonderfully for Aoife she’s had a tough few years with the passing of her mother, to whom she was very close. In order to cope she threw herself into her work which has resulted in a number of fantastic projects although it possibly wasn’t the best decision.

That’s why I got into illustration, because I had to focus at a time in my life where I didn’t have anything else. My work was all I had at the time and it gave me the push to get to where I am. It was good and it was bad I suppose; good because I had something to focus on and I pushed myself but bad cause I was kind of suppressing how I felt.

Spurred by this she went searching for her biological father, whom she had never met, and got in contact with him last year. After seeing a picture of the two of them the physical resemblance is uncanny but the similarities don’t stop there.

Last year I met my biological dad as well which gave me a bit of an insight cause I never knew him which was surreal. It gave me an insight to where he’s from. He lives up in the north of England, it’s a bit of a dreary working-class area which would be really similar to where I’m from so I could relate to it. I got along with the people over there even though I’m Irish and over there it’s very much if you’re Irish you’d bump into people who wouldn’t entertain you, but everyone was real friendly.

Something that’s really deadly about Aoife is how she manages to look at the world around her, take it all in and then express it with such enthusiasm and delight, without even having to draw it. We were talking about a bar she went to while visiting her father and it ended up sounding like the setting for some new Noel Fielding penned psych-comedy.

There were so many characters around, like there was a guy just standing at the bar, really overweight with a cocked eye and he was bald drinking a pint of stellla. Then there was a guy there just going around collecting the glasses, who didn’t even work there, and he only had half and arm and like 3 fingers on his one hand. I thought it was kind of funny cause he could hold more glasses than I think I could! There was a random washing machine upstairs and then in the smoking area  outside there were all these dogs.

With her observations in mind I think her choice of animal really suits her, even though her looks are deceiving.

I’m not really a cat person but I have really feline eyes, so I may have been a cat in a previous life but I don’t think I’d like to be a cat, I’m more a dog person. Being an eagle would be cool cause no one would be able to get you and being able to fly everywhere. But they’re not really cute… they’re kinda angry looking

Eagle-eyed Aoife taking in all her surroundings, getting an overall view of everything. Maybe she could illustrate herself a cute one?